One of my pet peeves is seeing an article that has a headline suggesting it’s time for a fighter to retire. Sure, it’s something most of us who watch MMA can probably sense, but who are we to suggest that somebody should stop doing what many of them spend every waking moment thinking about and training for?

Personally, I was heartbroken as I watched Chuck Liddell’s career come to a crashing halt. I still can’t shake the sound of Rashad Evans’ punch to the face of Liddell five years ago at UFC 88, one of the four knockouts Liddell suffered in the final three years of his career. It was apparent that Liddell was trying to evolve his game a bit, and that showed in his last fight against Rich Franklin at UFC 115. “The Iceman” was going back to his roots a bit by throwing a couple of kicks and going for takedowns. Unfortunately, the one thing you can’t adjust is the strength of a chin. Liddell’s chin failed him, and thus he was forced to exit the Octagon in a devastating fashion.

When I see Frank Mir, I see the same type of scenario. Mir is phenomenal on the ground, but he can no longer stand toe-to-toe with his opponent because one shot to his chin nearly drops him every time. Seven of Mir’s eight losses have come by knockout. That’s an alarming number of times to lose in that manner for a fighter. The heavyweight division is a division in which one needs to be able to absorb a few blows to the face. Mir’s weak chin and decreasing stamina are two reasons why I can’t pick him to win a fight going forward. It’s a shame, because much like my admiration for Liddell, I also have the same nostalgic feeling for Mir. He’s been in the UFC since 2001, and it’s just a bit sad to see our favorites fade away, just as it is in any other sport.

Mir once again got rocked against Josh Barnett as part of the UFC 164 fight card. Mir thought it would be a good idea to try to slug out a win against Barnett and failed miserably, losing by knockout in the very first round. Once I saw Mir’s knees buckle yet again, I thought that was going to be the end of the road for him. He’s had a wonderful career, but the former UFC heavyweight champion has now lost three straight, and at the age of 34, there doesn’t seem like much hope that he’d be able to climb back into the title picture. Then again, the division is rather thin compared to how stacked the other weight classes are, so perhaps there still is time for Mir.

Should Mir start the climb, it’s going to have to start with beating Alistair Overeem. Not long after the dust settled following Mir’s loss to Barnett, the UFC announced Mir and Overeem would face off at UFC 167 in November.

Overeem’s career is going in the same direction as Mir’s. Like Mir, Overeem has been knocked out quite a few times (8), including in each of his last two fights. Overeem was beating both Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Travis Browne handily until his cardio and chin failed him. What was once one of the most intimidating visuals in the UFC, Overeem is now known more for his buckling knees than his violent way of fighting.

Matching up Mir and Overeem lays out a unique situation for the UFC. It’s hard to imagine most fans and members of the media not labeling this an elimination match. Should Mir lose, it’d be his fourth straight loss. If Overeem goes down, he would then be 1-3 in the UFC and would most likely lose any star power he has left within the organization. Predicting this fight is the easy party. I can tell you right now that this is going to be the battle of who gets hit on the chin first. Mir will unsuccessfully attempt to get Overeem on the ground, and Overeem will rock Mir with an uppercut and follow it up by getting him in a Thai clinch and drop him with knees. Overeem will beat Mir.

The interesting aspect of the match-up comes after Overeem’s hand is raised. What happens to Mir?

Mir is a very prideful person, and although he doesn’t want his career to end on a four-fight losing streak, he would no doubt take into consideration his health and understand that he can reflect upon a wonderful UFC career. The UFC won’t cut Mir, but there may be the same sort of nudging towards retirement from UFC President Dana White that we saw in Liddell’s case. I firmly believe White would offer Mir the opportunity to retire before cutting him. While Mir wouldn’t be cut, he most certainly is not going to have as long of a leash as somebody like Tito Ortiz had with the UFC. Mir, while popular to the UFC fans who jumped on board a decade ago, does not bring in the same number of fans that Ortiz did. That was a big factor with White and the UFC in whether or not to keep Ortiz around for as long as they did.

If, by some small chance, Mir submits Overeem and has his hand raised, I believe Overeem would be cut and then fight in another organization. Overeem isn’t cheap and is raking in over $280,000 per fight for just showing up. He’s not the fighter that we all thought he was going to be in the UFC. And yes, when I say we all I truly mean we all. You’d have to look long and hard for somebody who didn’t think Overeem was going to succeed in the UFC when he was originally signed to the organization back in 2011.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with these two heavyweights. The UFC doesn’t have a clear-cut guideline as to which fighters get cut. What we do know is that fighters don’t tend to get cut after a win (unless they fail a drug test), and they can continue losing and stay on the UFC roster as long as they are involved in exciting fights, much like Leonard Garcia was until he was mercifully released following his fifth straight loss.

A lot can be said for a fighter who understands their time is up and leaves their gloves inside the cage. We, as a whole, can’t tell a fighter when enough is enough. If Mir and his camp believe he can still fight the best, then who are we to tell them any different? The same goes for Overeem. They know their bodies and their level of motivation for the sport.

All we know is what we can see, and right now we see two guys barely hanging on to their UFC careers.

Photo: Frank Mir (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.