Mir, who submitted to Ayala strikes at this past weekend’s Bellator 212 event in Hawaii after suffering a fracture to the alveolar ridge of his jaw, says he’s not comfortable making a career decision of that magnitude just yet for one very simple reason: His mouthpiece wasn’t in place during the series of strikes that caused the injury, and he simply can’t be certain how much of a role that may have played.
“You start drawing questions whether you should still fight again, but then I have to start counting in how much did the mouthpiece create a factor into the outcome of the fight,” Mir said on the latest edition of his “Phone Booth Fighting” podcast. “Obviously, it was a huge factor in the outcome.”
The heavyweight matchup was certainly going Mir’s way in the opening frame, with the submission expert getting top position and threatening Ayala’s limbs. But things took a turn for the worse in the second, with Ayala using some dirty boxing to draw blood from Mir and also knock out his mouthpiece. Unfortunately for Mir, referee Mike Beltran never saw an opportunity to replace the protective equipment.
What happened next was both shocking and somewhat disgusting.
“The second round, there was a combination that I threw, and then afterwards he threw a punch back, and it knocked out my mouthpiece,” Mir recalled. “I clinched him up against the fence, trying to slow the pace of the fight down, and then when he reversed me, I kind of used it as an opportunity to look at the referee like, ‘Hey, can I get my mouthpiece back? You know, I’m fighting somebody that’s 265 pounds, and they punch hard, and I’d like to have it back.’ Then as I was trying to talk to him, Javy did a good job with his head positioning. It was good on my chin, then one of the punches came through, and I felt like my teeth got knocked in, so that’s when I reached up and tried to essentially pull my teeth back out.
“When I reached up and grabbed them, they straightened out – which I found out the reason why is because my upper jaw was actually broken, so when I went to pull my teeth, all I did was straighten the jaw back out. I thought that was weird that they weren’t coming out for as loose as they felt. I felt them in the roof of my mouth just a second prior. Then, when I looked up at the referee, I’m like, ‘Well maybe if I get my mouthpiece back, I can frame it somehow.’ Then when I took another shot there, the pain was just pretty intense, and I’m like, ‘All right, there’s something not right up here.’
“I think it’s visceral. It’s animalistic when you know, ‘OK, there’s something majorly wrong with my body right now.’ … It didn’t feel like something I’m just going to walk off, so that’s when I just waved off the fight to figure out what’s going on with my mouth.”
Mir has remained fairly silent on the matter in the days that followed, but with a little time to reflect and consider, the former UFC heavyweight champion admits he’s rather frustrated at Beltran’s officiating.
“The referee kicked my ass worse than anybody here,” Mir said. “He didn’t protect me at all.”
For that reason, Mir said he hopes Ayala is willing to run it back. It was that matchup, Mir said, that was to determine his fighting future. But with the questions surrounding the result, he simply doesn’t feel there are enough answers to make a proper decision.
“I would actually like to have a rematch with Javy, reason being is because really he was a testing moment for me to feel if I should continue fighting or not,” Mir said. “He’s somebody that doesn’t have – obviously, he hits hard, but so does every other heavyweight. But he was picked as an opponent that was a very winnable fight – should be if I’m worthy of still fighting, and so then it’s really a crossroads for me.
“Immediately after, I’m like, ‘Well, I lost. I guess it’s time to hang it up.’ But then going back and looking at it, knowing what I was going through and knowing that, ‘OK, well, I won the first round. Is it really time for me to hang it up?’ I think the only way to really answer that is to rematch with Javy Ayala again. If I come through short again and it doesn’t work out, then it is time to hang it up. If I can’t beat the Javy Ayalas, then I probably shouldn’t be fighting anymore.”
At 39, Mir has been competing as a professional for more than 17 years. He admitted before the fight that his time as a competitor was coming to an end and that he would soon shift his focus to helping his daughter, Isabella Mir, as she chases dreams of becoming a pro fighter, as well.
But Mir isn’t ready to make that call just yet, even suggesting he’ll take a decidedly different approach to training this time around if Ayala is willing to grant him his wish
“A week before the fight I was celebrating my anniversary,” Mir recalled. “I think if I really am going to continue fighting and get the opportunity to rematch Javy, I think that me going to a camp an disappearing and just taking it a little bit more mentally serious – I’ve kind of been able to be a part-time dad and then part-time fighter and had some success at it. But if I look at my record the last couple years, it’s not working. I’m not young enough and talented enough to get away with it anymore.”
But Mir doesn’t seem willing to turn his focus on any other opponents just yet. Questions remain unanswered, and Mir is hoping Ayala will be willing to help him find those answers.
“That’s the most painful thing I’m dealing with right now,” Mir said. “Like, ‘Is it the end of my career? Is it over with? Should I see the writing on the wall?’”