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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The news that Frank Mir will head to Strikeforce this fall for a bout against Daniel Cormier took a lot of people by surprise on Wednesday night. That includes Cormier, who was under the impression he was facing a different former UFC Heavyweight Champion in Tim Sylvia on Sept. 29.
"I was excited, man. I couldn't have imagined getting such a huge-name guy and fighting a guy that just fought for the UFC championship only a few months ago," Cormier said in an interview with BleacherReport.com. "I didn't know what to do with myself. I was dropping my cell phone."
"Not to disrespect Tim Sylvia, but he hasn't really been fighting at the top of the sport for the last few years. He's been fighting wherever he can. I think the last top-level guy he fought was Fedor, and he got beat really quick. So it's exciting to fight a guy that's been fighting at the top of the sport for his whole career, a guy who just fought for the title and was coming off three or four straight wins in the UFC before that. It's a great fight."
Mir was stopped in his last fight, losing his title bid against Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 to snap a three fight winning streak. It marked his third straight loss in title fights, as he was knocked out by Shane Carwin in an Interim Title bout and before that by Brock Lesnar in a unification bout at UFC 100.
With little in the way of intrigue for Mir in the UFC's heavyweight division, this marks a decidedly more interesting fight than what he could have taken there. Still, regardless of his reasoning for coming over, Cormier's just excited for the chance to end his Strikeforce run on a high note, as well as to introduce himself in a big way to the UFC's audience.
"Frank is a guy who has been a champion twice. His name rings a bell," Cormier said. "It's synonymous with the UFC. So UFC fans will actually come over to watch Frank fight, and he'll get a lot of eyes on me. And regardless of the outcome, more people will see me and know me as I move into the UFC than before I fought Frank, or if I'd faced someone else in my last Strikeforce fight."
Penick's Analysis: I don't expect this to start a trend of guys heading over to Strikeforce for fights from the UFC, but kudos to the UFC - and Mir himself - for making this matchup. A Cormier-Sylvia bout made sense from the perspective that Cormier had no other opponents to face from outside of the UFC; but getting someone to come over - especially someone on Mir's level of recognition and status in the division - is fantastic. If Cormier defeats Mir, he could legitimately enter the UFC with a title shot. He may have to win once in the Octagon to firm that up, but as the Heavyweight World Grand Prix winner, adding a win over the last challenger to the title would be huge.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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