Frank Mir seems to always be just one win away from a title shot. The constant contender has fought in four UFC championship bouts, and if he gets past Cain Velasquez at UFC 146, he’ll be fighting for a UFC championship belt for a fifth time.
He’s seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during his career to this point. He rose to the top of the heavyweight division at a young age. He debuted in the organization at just 22 years old. By the time he was 25, he was UFC heavyweight champion.
Before he could defend that title, Mir was involved in a motorcycle accident suffering a broken femur. Many questioned if he’d ever get back to where he once was in the sport. And his comeback performances following the injury fueled the doubters’ belief that Mir would never be the same.
It didn’t happen overnight, but Mir scratched and clawed his way back up the heavyweight ladder to win the UFC interim heavyweight title, but hasn’t been able to recapture the official title of UFC heavyweight champion.
On May 26, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Mir, again, finds himself on the cusp of fighting for the title and an opportunity to reclaim what was once his. The only thing standing in his way is another former champion, Cain Velasquez.
Stylistically, hard hitting wrestlers have given Mir problems in recent bouts. The last two men able to defeat Mir, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, fit that description. Mir recognizes this hole in his game and works hard to close it in training, but Velasquez’ wrestling is still a concern heading into the match-up.
“That concerns me greatly. I mean, wrestling is one of the things I have the hardest time with. So it’s always going to be an issue and it’s something for me to constantly work on and improve on in the gym,” Mir said at a press conference promoting the UFC 146 event.
“I think wrestling is a huge factor in all fights. Typically, the guy who is the better wrestler can decide where the fight goes, whether it’s standing, whether it’s on the ground. I just hope to make it to where both those are not viable choices,” he said about wrestling in the fight.
We might see a slightly slimmer Frank Mir when he steps into the Octagon to face Velasquez. Mir bulked up before his rematch with Brock Lesnar, but believes it was an error in judgment and lighter is his optimal fighting weight.
“I find for myself in the gym, I can live with my performances, my conditioning, my speed is best when I’m a little bit lighter. I thought gaining size would’ve helped me make up for the size difference in Brock, but that was really more of a technical difference. I looked at the wrong area on what to improve. So right now I’m happy where I’m at right now,” he said.
If he emerges victorious against Velasquez, Mir anticipates fighting for the title against the winner of Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem in a six to eight month timeframe.
“May 26, I have a very tough opponent ahead of me, and then after that over the winner between Alistair and dos Santos, six to eight months after that. So hopefully by the end of the year, beginning of next year, I could be in a title fight.”