by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
It seems like a lifetime ago when Frank Mir was the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, but after defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 81, the former title holder seems to be back to his old form and ready to climb back up the ladder to the top.
Stepping into such a blockbuster fight against Lesnar, who was making his UFC debut, Mir knew that challenge that his opponent presented to him as a former NCAA wrestling champion, but even he was surprised at the way the fight started with an immediate shoot to take the fight to the ground.
“I really thought that he would have more fear of the jiu-jitsu game that I possess, and would choose to opt to stand on the feet and try to use his wrestling,” said Mir in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “I mean let’s face it, I couldn’t take that guy down if I wanted to.”
“That’s why I came out with stand-up, I didn’t really have any intention of sprawling, I was throwing some leg kicks and stuff like that, I had to open him up in that aspect, that’s why when he shot on me in the first two seconds, it caught me by surprise.”
After the action hit the mat, Lesnar unleashed a vicious ground and pound attack, but with a few shots landing to the back of Mir’s head, an illegal blow, referee Steve Mazzagatti stopped the bout and deducted a point from Lesnar’s score card.
Mir admits to Lesnar’s power, but understands the newcomer wasn’t playing dirty.
“It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that he hits pretty hard,” Mir stated. “He didn’t do it intentionally.”
Following the restart, the action hit the ground again and Mir locked on a fight ending knee bar forcing Lesnar to tap out at 1:30 of the first round. The former champ said he went into the fight knowing that looking for transitions from arm locks to leg holds would be his best chance for victory.
One of the biggest questions going into the fight was how Mir’s cardio would stand up through an entire fight, and while a first round submission may not answer that question, the Las Vegas native talked about his new commitment to training and the mental aspect of not panicking when a fight isn’t going his way.
“I think because of all the training I do now and because I’ve seen tapes in the past where I have a really good constitution to take abuse, but I never explained that before because of the fact that I was so scared to get tired,” Mir said. “So the fact that now because of my training I have good cardio to keep up with fights, getting hit doesn’t really bother me that much.”
Lesnar’s size and strength were an obvious attribute to the former WWE superstar, but Mir found another skill he didn’t believe the new UFC heavyweight possessed.
“The only thing that surprised me was his quickness,” commented Mir. “It’s hard to really think that when you see a guy who’s, when he’s getting on a scale, cutting down to 265 (lbs), there’s just now way this guy’s going to be that quick. You know what? He’s quick!”
With the big win over Brock Lesnar now behind him, Mir is looking towards the future and he promises that he is back to his old self and ready to get back to title contention.
“I don’t care if I lose again, but I will never, ever bow down to somebody. You’re going to have to kill me to win,” said a confident Frank Mir. “There’s so many tough guys out there and now with Brock Lesnar behind me, showing that I’ve heeled, I can start fighting guys who are ranked and start improving my own standing, putting myself in title contingency.”
Two fights in particular are on everyone’s mind as potential opponents for Frank Mir – new UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Tim Sylvia – and he has ideas for both of those match-ups.
“I look up to the guy,” said Mir about Antonio Nogueira. “He’s a phenomenal fighter and I would not want to disrespect him by showing up at anything less than 100%. I want people to know if he wins he earned a victory over a world class fighter.”
As for Tim Sylvia – who Mir holds a win over coming by way of breaking the Miletich fighter’s arm in two places – the plans for this bout may be even bigger.
“Obviously, the Tim (Sylvia) fight is always going to sell,” Mir said. “I’m trying, I wish that would work out where it’s for a title, me and Tim, so maybe we can do a show and coach, maybe do a lot of hype behind that one.”
The coaching aspect of course leads to thoughts of Frank Mir and Tim Sylvia as coaches on the Ultimate Fighter and to date the show has yet to feature two heavyweights as the lead men for the hit series, but time, Dana White, and Spike TV will tell the tale on that possibility down the road.
Frank Mir will now head back to his other job, serving as color commentator for World Extreme Cagefighting, and their next show set for Feb 13 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.