On Tuesday evening, Frank Mir, who was twice crowned UFC heavyweight champion in the noughties, announced that he has signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA.
Mir made the announcement during an episode of Phone Booth Fighting, a podcast that he regularly co-hosts with Richard Hunter.
MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani, as is his wont, was the first to report that Mir had agreed to a deal with the Scott Coker led outfit.
Mir’s stint in the UFC began in 2001. Then just a two-fight novice, Mir tapped Roberto Tavern at UFC 34. He went go on to win six of his next seven fights, a run that culminated in a gruesome heavyweight title win over Tim Sylvia in 2004. Mir snapped Sylvia’s forearm with an armbar to claim the title.
Unfortunately, Mir suffered his own serious injuries a few months later, when he was involved in a motorcycle accident. He didn’t return until February of 2006 and by then he had been stripped of the title.
Mir lost two of his first three bouts following his return, but subsequent back-to-back wins over Antoni Hardonk and debuting behemoth Brock Lesnar earned him a shot at Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. On December 27th of 2008, Mir became the first man to stop Nogueira and reclaimed the UFC heavyweight title.
His reign came to an end in July of the following year, however, as Brock Lesnar exacted revenge for the earlier defeat.
In recent years, Mir has struggled and he lost six of his final eight bouts in the UFC.
During an in-competition testing phase after his defeat to Mark Hunt in March of last year, Mir tested positive for a banned substance and was subsequently handed a two-year suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Mir, who has maintained his innocence, began campaigning for his UFC release shortly thereafter. In July, the 38-year-old announced that the promotion had granted his request.
Bellator’s heavyweight division isn’t exactly teeming with talent at the minute, but there are some big fights there for Mir. Though Fedor Emelianenko was brutally KO’d in his most recent outing and has long looked a faded force, a bout between he and Mir would be a major attraction. While Emelianenko’s recent conqueror, Matt Mitrione, is another option for the Las Vegas native.
To pastures new.