The chances of Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir fighting for a third time appear to be extremely slim at this juncture, but according to the latter, tonight’s scrap with Fedor Emelianenko is more compelling anyways, for hardcore fans.

Mir will face Fedor in the headliner of tonight’s Bellator 198 card, in a fight that will serve as a quarter final bout for the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix. The match-up also marks the first time Mir will fight for an organization, other than the UFC, since 2001.

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Well, since Mir and Lesnar threw down in 2008 and 2009, and each man scored a win over the other, there’s always been talk about a rubber match materializing. But, during the pre-fight presser for Bellator 1989, Mir had this to say, while discussing the differences between facing Fedor and Lesnar (quotes via MMA Junkie):

“I get asked questions about (Brock Lesnar) as much as I get asked questions about Fedor,” Mir said. “And me and Brock probably aren’t fighting any time soon.”

“As far as contributions to the sport, being a well rounded fighter, martial arts ability, Brock is not there, obviously,” Mir added. “(He’s) nowhere near the psychological toughness and strategist that Fedor is. As far as to hardcore fans, I think this is a more important fight with Fedor.”

“…But we know, I think as martial artists and fans, that no one there holds a candle to Fedor’s accomplishments.”

It’s pretty hard to take issue with any of this really. Although some might argue that Lesnar could beat Emelianenko at this stage of the game, via his wrestling, there’s no question that “The Last Emperor” is a much more complete fighter. During his reign in PRIDE, Fedor was a monster standing and on the ground. He’s also the greatest heavyweight of all time in most people’s minds.

It will be interesting to see how tonight’s event does ratings wise. In order for it to be a success, Bellator will need to pull in mainstream viewers, and it’s not really clear whether casual fans in 2018 really know who Fedor is, or care. You might say the same about Mir, who hardcore observers understand is one of the all-time greats, but he hasn’t fought now since 2016.

Bellator 198 will take place in Rosemont, Illinois.