As UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes once said, “If you’re not losing, you’re not fighting the right people.”
Frank Mir has had his share of losses, maybe none bigger than the nearly two years of his career that he lost following a devastating motorcycle accident in 2004.
Still, Mir has haunted the UFC heavyweight division longer than any current fighter on the roster, and remains a top five competitor consistently on the hunt for another title shot.
Those credentials also open him up for criticism because Mir has lost a few fights over the last several years, including bouts with Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.
When UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos looks at Mir’s track record, he thinks he sees a common theme: when Mir gets in trouble, he folds.
As honest as a fighter as you’ll ever talk to about his own career, Mir can be truthful when reacting to the criticism received from his UFC 146 opponent. But does dos Santos have a point?
“I guess I can see where he’s looking at it. He was saying in the fights where I was in trouble, it’s hard to come back from, but I would point out in the Brock (Lesnar) fight I was under pressure the whole time in the first round, and I didn’t throw the towel in. In fact, in the second round, I came swinging and trying even more aggressively to take Lesnar out,” Mir said during a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“So I don’t know if I 100-percent agree with it.”
The anomaly, as dos Santos pointed out recently, was Mir’s fight against his good friend and coach Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 141 last December in Toronto.
Mir was rocked by a series of strikes from the Brazilian and dropped to the mat. Just when it looked like the fight might be over, Mir scrambled and managed to catch Nogueira in a submission, something a lot of people felt might never happen to the revered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert.
Not only did Mir catch him in a submission, but he finished it rather emphatically, breaking the Brazilian’s arm to win the fight. He became the first person ever to submit Big Nog.
So what Mir sees from dos Santos’ criticism of him is really an air of false bravado from the champion, and maybe a little psychological confidence building because what’s really happening on the inside is a little bit of fear.
Like a duck on the water, dos Santos looks calm and composed, but underneath his legs are churning a million miles an hour just trying to stay on the surface.
“I think maybe that’s just an assessment, and maybe it also draws confidence on his part. You’ve got to realize, the guy just watched me break his coach’s arm after he thought he had me out,” Mir stated.
“That’s kind of a scary proposition for him because in his mind it’s ‘okay, so if I hit him and knock him down, can I jump and grab this guy?’ Nogueira, who has been doing (jiu-jitsu) longer than him and more proficient at it had him out and went to slap on a choke, and he still reversed my coach and swept him and got on top, and put him into a surgical room shortly after. Sometimes, I think you say things to also garner confidence.”
Did Mir figure out exactly what dos Santos was truly thinking or is the champion correct about the man he’s about to face at UFC 146?
May 26 in Las Vegas will tell the tale in this heavyweight title showdown.
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