Frank Mir not only defeated one of the icons of MMA last night, he also dramatically changed the perception most fans have of him. He went from being a jiu-jitsu specialist with potential to a cerebral fighter with THE UFC Heavyweight Championship Belt. First, lets get this out of the way. Mir is the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Brock Lesnar is not. The UFC will no doubt market the fight as "Champion vs Champion", but that does not make it true. Mir is the only Heavyweight Champion in town and will stay that way until he faces Lesnar for a second time. In a lot of ways, this will work to the UFC's advantage. More than a few fans were not pleased with how quickly Lesnar received a title shot. Fighting Mir again, and essentially for the title, will help Lesnar's credibility grow.
The more important point, though, is how Mir transformed himself. Going into last night's fight, it was assumed Mir's only chance was to pull out a submission, which would have been no small feat considering Nogueira sports some sick jiu-jitsu himself. Instead, Mir went in the opposite direction and abandoned his ground game in favor of standing and striking. He even let Nogueira get up twice when he knocked him down. This was a brilliant piece of fighting. Mir was smart enough to avoid Nogueira's ground game, while so many others have not (Tim Sylvia comes to mind). He did not get too excited when he saw Nogueira go down. Instead, he stayed cautious and took the fight back to standing, where he was having success.
This might not seem like a big deal, because it seems obvious for a fighter to go with what is working. In reality, it rarely happens. Fighters usually use what they know the best. A black belt in jiu-jitsu is going to fight on the ground and a world-class striker is going to keep it standing. Time and time again we see fighters revert back to their strengths, even when they are clearly winning a fight with another style. Mir's ability to alter his style and stick with striking shows me he has turned the corner. He is no longer a "jiu-jitsu guy". He is now a cerebral fighter.