UFC Heavyweight Frank Mir has seen the ups and downs of his career, the UFC and mixed martial arts as a whole.
After everything that's been said and done, Mir is getting ready to enter his 10th season with the UFC, thus making him the heavyweight with the most seniority.
Beginning at UFC 34 in November of 2001 where he defeated Roberto Traven with an armbar submission just 1:05 in to their fight, Mir has accrued a record of 12-5 with wins over Mirko “Cro-Cop,” Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Tim Sylvia and Tank Abbott to name a few.
During that time he has been the UFC Heavyweight Champion and an Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Mir is set to turn just 32-years-old four days before his bout with former training partner and fellow Las Vegas resident Roy Nelson. So, as he embarks on the journey back to the UFC mountaintop, Mir knows he needs to be impressive over Nelson if he expects to make any progress and movement up the heavyweight ladder.
As usual, Mir is taking his opponent extremely seriously and putting in a hard day’s work each and every day he trains. Maybe that’s why he was unaware that the UFC had implemented a new policy and will be offering fighters insurance in-between fights.
He also wasn’t sure if he was getting bumped up to the co-main event now that the Edgar-Maynard bout is off due to injuries.
“I am feeling really good right now, ready to go. I’m still not sure if we are being moved to the co-main event spot, I believe we are, but I am not 100% sure,” said Mir.
“Thanks for telling me about the insurance, I had no idea, that’s pretty cool. I am one of the very few fighters who doesn’t read any type of media. I would be the last person to know something.”
“I feel confident in every area with Nelson, as far as the stand-up goes the big difference is I am faster than he is and I have a bit more length than he does,” Mir told Bleacher Report.
“I am also a bit more versatile than Roy is. He is pretty much a boxer where as I like to use my knees and kicks. I know he is going to throw those big, looping over hand rights while I may come at him with different angles.”
With a win over Nelson, Mir would be riding a two fight win streak including a third round knockout over Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic at UFC 119. The winner of the Junior Dos Santos-Shane Carwin bout at UFC 131 will face Velasquez when he heals from his shoulder injury; does Mir see himself falling somewhere in line after those guys in terms of a title shot?
“I think I need to have a really good showing against Roy, I need to go out there and do really well,” offered Mir.
“It may put me right under them, but doesn’t move me up very far in fact if I don’t do well it could move me back despite a victory. Nelson is coming off the loss to JDS and still struggles for recognition in our sport.”
“Listen, I know Roy is a tough dude, he hits pretty hard and doesn’t seem to ever go away. He’s very resilient, very talented and knows how to preserve his energy, but the average fan is all that familiar with him. So a win over a guy like Nelson wouldn’t earn me the attention that a win over a bigger name fighter would. It doesn’t help that he isn’t flashy and tends to not take too many chances, but the fact of the matter is, he is a dangerous fighter.”
The UFC’s heavyweight division packs a bunch of hard-hitting, versatile fighters who can beat one another on any given night. Mir was very vocal about the direction of the division and its current champion, Cain Velasquez.
“Right now in the UFC I believe I would give him the best fight right now and that’s not taking anything away from him as I feel he is the best fighter in the world right now,” said Mir.
“I would really be hard-pressed to defeat him, the only reason I pose a bigger threat than some of the other guys is because we really don’t know how well he defends submissions.”
“I think it would take someone who could keep him down for awhile and test how he fights off of his back. Obviously his wrestling is extraordinary as evidenced in his fight against Brock, but who knows how well he would do if he were put in a dangerous spot with a good submission artist. His striking is good, but he does throw short punches which got him in trouble with Cheick Kongo, but unfortunately for Kongo he could not stay on his feet.”
“I think Carwin would be a good match-up for him as well. He punches hard enough to keep his opponents honest and is difficult to put down. Carwin would probably have a good chance at stuffing Cain’s shot, but we really don’t know how well Carwin fights off his back either.”
Mir has certainly grown during his time in the UFC, not just mentally, but physically as well. For his bout with Shane Carwin that took place at UFC 111 last March, Mir weighed in at the 265lb limit.
The added size just wasn’t enough as Carwin was able to land some devastating punches and win the belt. Since that time, Mir has stayed around the same size, but has mentioned a possible drop to the light heavyweight division.
“I should be about 260-265 for this fight against Roy,” explained Mir.
“I’ve been able to stay at this weight because of the heavy lifting program I have been using. I noticed during the Mirko fight that I was kind of pushing the limits of my endurance, my doctor checked my blood and wanted me to eat a more balanced, sensible diet.”
“I thought about 205 for awhile, particular when I was doing the Vegan diet and walking around at about 250lbs.,” Mir told Bleacher Report. “I was counting calories and was serious about whether it was a possibility, but it’s just not for me. It’s a little too late to try and do that.”
“Also, my first fight is going to be against a top-level guy, there aren’t going to be any warm-up bouts and for me to fight a top light heavyweight after handling the weight cut for the first time would be rough. This isn’t a B-Level show and there isn’t going to be an opportunity for me to get used to the cut.”
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Mir finds it’s best for him to stay home and train. When he needs to work on something in particular, he can always bring someone in to lend him a hand, but for Mir, it’s more important that he has his family close when he’s preparing for a fight—that’s why Mir opened up his own gym and does his own thing.
“Having my own gym is easier because I have my family here, my kids enjoy watching my practices and I like having them around,” proudly said Mir.
“It’s hard to go to other people’s gyms because not everyone if as kid-friendly as I am.”
A few months back, I interviewed BJJ world Champion Robert Drysdale and the conversation turned to Forrest Griffin and Frank Mir. Drysdale told me that those were two of the strongest grapplers he faces and was very complimentary of Mir.
“Forrest is definitely hard to roll with and I am very flattered by Drysdale’s comments, but truth be told, he smashes us real hard,” said Mir matter-of-factly.
“He has become obsessed with improving his stand-up and I think in the next year or so he is going to be someone that everyone is familiar with in the MMA world.”
Look For Part II of My Interview With Frank Mir Next Week.