Frank Mir Has Fixed HimselfPosted on May 30, 2011, 03:19 PM by Evan Holober
As a long time fan of Frank Mir, I can tell you his career is the definition of a roller coaster ride. He went from submitting one of the best grapplers in the world as a purple belt, to losing and putting on lethargic and listless performances against sub-par competition, to having a horrific motorcycle accident that almost didn't let him train again (let alone fight at the highest levels of Mixed Martial Arts). Along the way, two things were always common place for Frank Mir; he has some of the best technique and athleticism for a HW in MMA, and his lungs would fail him if the fight went too long. It now appears that the latter is just a memory.
Early on in Frank's career his performances were nothing short of phenomenal. In just his third professional fight, Frank Mir submitted Roberto Traven in the first round (breaking his arm in the process) just under two years after Roberto won the prestigious open weight division of Abu Dhabi Combat Club's submission wrestling championships. Mir followed that up with a submission win over Pete Williams who had challenged for the UFC HW title, and held a KO victory over Mark Coleman. Frank was only 4 fights into his career, but his next fight would set the tone for his career over the next couple of years.
July 13th, 2002 Frank Mir fought Ian Freeman, a capable veteran, but a man brought in to lost to Mir. The first couple of minutes went as planned with Frank taking "The Machine" down, and going for multiple submissions. Watching at the time you were sure it was a matter of time before Frank caught something, and made the England native tap. After that opening barrage something became very apparent though, Frank Mir was breathing heavy and looked very tired. Ian started to land multiple shots on Mir as he went for leglocks, and continued to rain down punishment when Frank released the leg. Towards the end of the first round the ref had seen enough, and the fight was called giving Ian the upset TKO victory.
Fast forward to January 31st 2004, to a Frank Mir rematch with Wes Sims. The first fight was a pretty good back and forth scrap ending with Wes seemingly forgetting he was in a sanctioned Unified Rules MMA bout, and stomping Mir's face into a bloody mess. Their second fight went as everybody thought it would with Mir controlling most of the fight, doing damage with punches and elbows from top position, and going for multiple submissions. Wes however, weathered most of these storms and fought back until both men were swinging for the fences at the end of round one. Frank Mir got the TKO victory, and subsequently collapsed into his trainers arms against the fence, seemingly depleted of all energy after one round of work. Mir got the TKO victory and title shot afterwards, but it was clear his cardio problems had not been fixed.
Moving further along we get to August 25th 2007, Frank Mir's fight with Antoni Hardonk. Before this Frank had spent three years trying to recover from a horrific accident that had him shelved for almost two years. During the time spent back in the cage he was 1-2; the one win was a forgettable performance against Dan Christison, and the two losses were dreadful performances against Brandon Vera and Marcio Cruz. The Mir that fought against Vera and Cruz did not show up in the cage that night, however. This was Mir had something to prove. He came in, took Antoni down, and wrenched his shoulder just enough to get Hardonk to tap 77 seconds into round one. The old Frank Mir showed up that night, but the main issue that plagued his career still had not been showcased.
Frank followed that performance up with some of his best fights to date. He came from behind to kneebar Brock Lesnar, he became the first person to TKO Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, he beat Cheick Kongo faster than anybody had or still has in MMA, and he became highlight reel stoppages of both Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. Frank had fixed some problems in he was in better shape, and his striking had grown exponentially. He also encountered a new problem in the giant wrestlers of the 265 lb division. Except the main problem he had throughout the years still hadn't been addressed yet, and his next fight with Mirko didn't change that fact.
On September 25th 2010, Frank and "CroCop" participated in one of the most dull main events of a UFC in the past 3 years. Although both had moments in striking exchanges clinches, Mir tried takedown after takedown only to be rebuffed. While doing this he seemed to set into a pattern of fighting that instead of forcing the issue with wrestling, or pressuring the smaller Filipovic, it was set on building a small lead on the scorecards and conserving energy. Frank lasted until he caught Mirko with a knee in the third round and put him to sleep. Still, it was not a performance that proved Frank can be in a back and forth fight with someone and not fade.
Enter The Nelson-Mir fight. Frank Mir and Roy Nelson fought back and forth for the better part of 15 minutes. While Frank got the better of Roy, and Roy faded in the third, Mir did not miss a beat. When it was clear Roy was gassed and fighting on nothing but heart, Mir turned up the pressure with takedowns, big knees in the clinch, body kicks, excellent grappling from top position, and huge elbows that were bouncing Roy's head off the mat. After the fight was over, Mir walked away with some marks on his face, and some injuries including a possible broken jaw and ribs. Add all this together and you have a fighter built to fight hard for the duration of a fight who doesn't have to worry about putting his opponent away early just to not see the later rounds.
Frank Mir is not a perfect fighter. He has trouble with the bigger wrestlers in the division, and he appears to fight to his opponent's skill level sometimes. However, he is a strong, well rounded fighter, and because of the changes he's made to his training regiment, can give ANYBODY problems in the HW division. Frank Mir has some work to do get back the UFC HW belt, but he has fixed his main problem.
Photo: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, right, fights Frank Mir during UFC 92 at the MGM Grand Arena on December 27, 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. Francis Specker