The former UFC heavyweight champion and newly minted free agent said he is in negotiations with Bellator and Chechnya’s Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB). But he cannot fight again until April 2018, per an agreement he signed in order to get his UFC release. Mir’s USADA suspension is up April 7, 2018 and the UFC does not want him to compete until that is finished, even though he is no longer under contract with that promotion, Mir said.
Helwani asked Mir whether he could go overseas and fight between now and April. It seems like Mir would prefer not to raise any legal red flags and just wait.
“I probably could,” Mir said. “But i don’t know what that would do as far as me coming back to fight in the states. It’s kind of a gray area. I don’t know what the UFC would do about me breaking the agreement.”
Mir was suspended for failing a drug test for the banned substance dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT) in April 2016, in relation to a fight with Mark Hunt.
While his promoter is still up in the air, Mir does have a few ideas as to who he wants to face in his comeback. Fedor Emelianenko is at the top of that list. Emelianenko, the best heavyweight fighter of all time, is under contract with Bellator and coming off a first-round knockout loss to Matt Mitrione last month.
Mir, 38, said he has come to the understanding that titles don’t really mean as much as people think they do and historically when people look back on the careers of combat sports legends they judge them by who they fought, not what belts they held.
“I think that would be a phenomenal fight to have on my name as far as somebody that I faced throughout my career,” Mir said.
The other person Mir has on his wishlist is, of course, Brock Lesnar. The two men have a long history. Mir beat Lesnar by submission in Lesnar’s UFC debut back in 2008. Lesnar got revenge at UFC 100 in 2009, which up until last year was the highest pay-per-view buyrate in UFC history. Mir and Lesnar have exchanged some very heated words over the years.
That fight might be a little more difficult from a promotional standpoint. Lesnar is still under contract to the UFC. With that fight and Emelianenko in mind, Mir said he doesn’t want to get tied into any long-term contracts. He’d prefer flexibility to go where the big fights are, regardless of promotion.
“Fedor is kind of hard to nail down to one company. So I don’t want to get in a situation where I’ve been the last 16 years where I’m like, ‘Hey, I’d like to make this fight work, but I fight for the UFC and he won’t fight for the UFC,’ so that sucks. It was never gonna happen. So I kind of want to avoid that pitfall in the future.
“Not only am I selling myself as a fighter, but I’m also selling potential opponents in the future. Like, ‘Hey if you sign me, this is a potential fight you could make.’”
Mir is currently doing commentary on a regular basis for ACB. The promoter of that organization made a hateful overture toward the LGBT community in an Instagram post last month, writing (translated from Russian), “Sometimes the devil is afraid of the thoughts within a f*ggot’s head.”
Mir said he’s uninterested in delving into any of that stuff.
“I just try to avoid it,” Mir said. “First and foremost, these are feelings from religious point of views and political point of views. And to be honest, I try to steer clear of it. Because as a fighter, I go out there and fight for different companies, as a commentator I work for different companies. If I get too political or if I say things … the whole religious thing, which if you know my background, kind of baffles me anyway. I leave that to the people that are religious and that’s their thing. I just try to steer clear of it.”
Mir (18-11) said he’s under contract as a commentator for ACB until next year and has not spoken with Bellator about those types of duties. He’d be interested, however. It’s something Mir has done since going back to his days as a WEC broadcaster.
The analysis, Mir said, has actually made him want to compete more. He has not fought since March 2016, when he lost to Hunt. But with the time off and still being involved in the sport with commentary and his Phone Booth Fighting podcast, Mir said those competitive juices are still flowing.
“Absolutely,” Mir said. “I feel better now, physically and stuff. Competing is something that once I retire from, it’s not something I can go back and do. … I can’t wait to go back out there to compete.”