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How long does it take to be a world class fighter?

Frank Mir seems to have learned his lesson about doubting himself. During the leadup to his fight with Big Nog, he spent the whole time talking himself down, saying shit like “I don’t think I can submit him” and “I don’t think I can knock him out”. But now that he whupped Nogueira, he’s taken a different tack and is now downtalking Brock Lesnar:

Mir acknowledged that Lesnar has improved since their first fight, but doesn’t believe he’s had the time to transform his abilities to the level of a world-class fighter.

“I think he’s improved a little bit, but I still think it takes a long time. No one picks this up in four or five fights,” said the UFC interim heavyweight titleholder. “What fighter have you seen yet that in four fights is unbelievably technical? We can go through any weight class you want.

“Lets look at Urijah Faber at his fourth or fifth fight. What was he compared to what he is now? If we go to Miguel Torres, if we go to St. Pierre, you can pick the best fighters in the world. How good are they on their fifth fight compared to how good they are now,” asked Mir. “We’re talking about world-class guys. We’re talking BJ Penn’s and stuff. Let’s be realistic – Matt Hughes. Come on. If Brock Lesnar is able to be a world-class mixed martial artist on his fifth fight, that means he’s the best mixed martial artist pound-for-pound that ever came into MMA. That’s a pretty steep statement there. We’re talking you’re up there with Anderson Silva and St. Pierre and Miguel Torres. That’s a pretty long, tall list to be on top of.”

Mir has a point, but on the other hand, look at it like this: Brock had his first MMA fight in June of 2007, which will mean his fight with Mir comes on his second anniversary in the fight game. I don’t think he’s going to become a heavyweight Shinya Aoki or anything, but if he’s a class athlete (and he is) and works hard (which he does), two years of full time training should be long enough for him to become a pretty fearsome monster. Not as fearsome as he might be in another three to four years, but pretty fearsome none the less.