Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira out, Mirko Cro Cop in at UFC 119

Mirko Cro CopThe road back to Brock Lesnar has changed paths for Frank Mir. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has pulled out of the Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira UFC 119 main-event. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Frank Mir will now headline UFC 119.

The news broke Sunday afternoon that the UFC 92 rematch was off and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira pulled out of the UFC 119 main-event due to an undisclosed injury. Timing is everything in the UFC and sometimes it works in the UFC’s favor in these situations and sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately the timing was all off for this one and the only suitable replacement is former Pride FC standout Mirko Cro Cop.

While Mirko Cro Cop never broke out in the UFC like Dana White had hoped, he is on a two fight winning streak and looked great against Pat Barry at UFC 115. If anyone thinks that Cro Cop is a pushover they are sadly mistaken. Cro Cop is a lot more capable than some of his previous UFC fights indicate and has as good of a chance of beating Frank Mir as Nogueira or anyone else does.

Frank Mir desperately needs this win. Even though Frank Mir is 1-2 in his last three fights, he is still one of the biggest stars of the UFC. Mir is a rare breed of UFC fighters who understand the idea of selling a fight. There is a lot of money on the table for Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar III. A loss here to Cro Cop would push Mir even further back in line and theoretically out of the UFC title picture for a long, long time.

This is an extremely dangerous fight for the UFC to make. Mirko Cro Cop is on the verge of retirement. Cro Cop told some reporters after his win at UFC 115 that he was done fighting. The fact that he was available leads me to believe that retirement was his intention. So what if Mirko Cro Cop wins? Cro Cop does not seem motivated to make a run at Brock Lesnar. I am inclined to think that a strong win over Frank Mir would be even more incentive for Cro Cop to retire since he would be finishing on a high note. So now the UFC is left with one of its biggest stars and top contenders losing to a guy who is very unlikely to hang around for a title shot. This is risky business for the UFC.

Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop sinks UFC 119 even further in the hole as far as fight depth. Not many fans were excited about the original UFC 119 main event, so I don’t think there are a whole lot of fans high-fiving each other over Cro Cop vs. Mir. As a whole, UFC 119 is arguably the weakest lineup of fights in the Zuffa era of UFC. Dana White was very angry when people criticized the lineup for UFC 108. Well, the UFC 119 lineup makes 108 look like 100.

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