Frank Mir: Gifts and Curses

The gifts and curses of Frank Mir

Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photo by Chris Cozzone

When the history books are written, career defining moments determine whether or not an athlete goes down in fame or down in flames. If 2004 had been the end of Frank Mir’s (13-4) career, history would’ve without a doubt relegated the Las Vegan to the latter category.

Mir suffered a broken femur just months after defeating Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship. Two years and a lengthy recovery process brought Mir back to the Octagon, however, the shine present for Mir’s rise to stardom faded. The once shining prospect went 1-2 in his first three bouts back. For what it’s worth, the lone victory in that string of three was an unimpressive decision victory over Dan Christenson at UFC at UFC 61.

Questions about the accident dogged Mir for years. It was the proverbial elephant in the room. Despite victories over Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar, Mir couldn’t escape the questions about the accident that nearly ended his career and even questions about the accident drew the ire of the former champion.

Mir was certainly over the accident, but the media and many fans weren’t.

Slowly but surely, Mir began writing another chapter in his storied MMA career. He made history in 2008, becoming the first fighter to stop living legend Antonio Minotauro Nogueira at UFC 92. Despite a loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100, Mir kept improving. Motivated by the loss, Mir packed on some 20-pounds of muscle to his frame and destroyed Cheick Kongo at UFC 107.

These days, Frank Mir is on Cloud 9. Questions about the accident no longer irk him, and the crash is a mere footnote in conversation.

”I think [the accident is] really behind me now,” Mir tells Fight News. “When people question whether I can win a fight or not, I don’t think that’s one of the factors that go in. If anything, I benefitted from it and it’s something that helps me and not holds me back. It increased my mental toughness drastically.”

Mental toughness has become the new defining moment of Mir’s career and after taking his abilities for granted, lives and breathes MMA. While some competitors call themselves “fighters,” Mir labels himself a “martial artist.”

“This is not just my business, this is my lifestyle, this is my way of life,” he says.

The declaration is more than a statement, as Mir recently invested in a private gym that rests quietly in North Las Vegas. Mir’s gym comes equipped with a cage, boxing ring, exercise equipment and couches where family and friends can kick back and relax.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mir’s new sanctuary is family friendly—and he’ll have it no other way.

“This will be more of my private training facility,” Mir says of his home away from home. “I just wanted a place where I know I can have my dogs running around and my kids can come in and train. If I go to other gyms and my kids are climbing on the ropes, I’m getting funny looks—and I understand that.”

Mir will get a chance to give the new strategy another test run this Saturday at UFC 111 when he meets the undefeated Shane Carwin in an interim heavyweight championship bout. In addition to the interim strap, the winner of the bout will likely have a July date with current champion Brock Lesnar in a unification bout. Though Mir speaks about a rubber match with the champ, don’t expect him to look past the dynamite in Carwin’s hands. With 11 victories—all coming by (T)KO—Mir considers Carwin more dangerous than Lesnar.

“Brock and Carwin are both better wrestlers than I am,” Mir says. “That being said, with Lesnar on the feet, I had no anxiety about trading with him; he knocks people over because he clubs you with his hands. He’s not a knockout artist. Carwin knocks people out. I can go to sleep if I get caught. To me, he’s a real threat.”

For all intents and purposes, Carwin is still an MMA enigma. With an average fight time of just over one minute, the only thing Mir knows is that Carwin can knock people out. The unknown, Mir says, is both the gift and the curse.

“There’s a lot of mystery. Is it an advantage? I feel that on March 27, once we get to the Octagon that he hasn’t been to the third minute of a single fight [will be an advantage] for me. As far as preparation, it’s a disadvantage that I haven’t seen a lot of footage on him.

“I wish I could [see more], but I’ll just have to work with what I have.”

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