Frank Mir is honest enough to acknowledge the accolades of Fedor Emelianenko, while also pointing out his shortcomings.
While Emelianenko is often hailed as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time, Mir knows that the former PRIDE Fighting champion earned some of his biggest wins despite a mountain of mistakes that were made.
That’s why Mir is so confident that he’ll add Emelianenko’s name to his win column when they clash in the Bellator 198 main event on Saturday night in Chicago.
“Fedor got away with a lot of things because he’s a good athlete, not because of being technically sound,” Mir explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “He made a lot of mistakes, let’s be honest. He got away with a lot of things because he’s such a great athlete. When I say that, people look at me like really? But just because the guy isn’t built like an Adonis and doesn’t have a six-pack, doesn’t mean he’s not a good athlete.
“The thing is, the sport has evolved, so it’s hard to get away with things based on pure athleticism. He’s never really adapted over to the cage. The cage is its own game. That cage wall adds a layer of fighting that the boxing ring doesn’t have and Fedor hasn’t made adjustments for it. He has a losing record in the cage. He’s 2-4.”
Mir’s criticism of Emelianenko isn’t the reason why he believes he’s going to win their fight and move on to the second round of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
While Emelianenko may have some glaring weaknesses in his game according to Mir, the former UFC heavyweight champion says it’s his own skill set that he feels will give the Russian a lot of problems inside the cage.
Frank Mir Compares Himself Skill for Skill with Fedor
At the top of the list is Mir’s world-class grappling game that earned him nine submission wins, including a stunning finish over fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
On paper, Emelianenko actually has double the submission wins on his record as Mir, but the Las Vegas native cautions anyone actually comparing their ground skills to remember who those victories came against.
“I’m the better submission artist. He had like 18 submissions but when you look at them, most are guys who are kickboxers or professional wrestlers. He’s not out there submitting [Fabricio] Werdum or [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira or those types of guys. In fact if anything, Werdum submitted him,” Mir said.
“Me on the flipside, I can go out there and submit a Nogueira. I can submit a Roberto Traven. Guys that are very submission savvy.”
On the feet, Mir wasn’t known as a knockout striker for much of his career, but over the past few years he’s started to focus on his boxing as much as his ground game.
Mir has been working with noted striking coach Angelo Reyes to educate his hands and feet the same way he’s spent tireless hours on the mat to hone his grappling skills. The end result has been Mir earning several knockout victories while gaining the confidence that he can stand and trade with an opponent just as easily as he can drag them to the ground and submit them.
“Having coached Frank Mir since our win versus [Antonio] Silva in 2015, Frank’s IQ and evolution of using boxing and kenpo karate for MMA continues to grow,” Reyes said about Mir. “We hid nothing on the Bellator countdown series, so everything you see Frank doing is exactly what he plans to use on Saturday versus Fedor. I’m happy with Frank’s transitions from using kenpo karate to boxing range and I believe Fedor will feel that on Saturday night.
“Frank has worked constantly and really put his mind and heart into getting himself in the proper shape, doing three-a-days, getting his weight down from 300 pounds to now 257 pounds. Frank’s work ethic is unquestionable and his desire to win this fight is at an all time high. If Fedor decides to strike Saturday night, he will find out what Silva and [Todd] Duffee know all too well and why [Andrei] Arlovski spent so much time running and stalling with Mir. If Fedor thinks Mitrione hits hard then wait till Fedor feels Frank’s jabs and counters.”
Frank Mir Not Underestimating Fedor’s Power
Whether the fight stays standing or goes to the ground, Mir feels like he has Emelianenko’s number everywhere, while still acknowledging that one defensive error could still cost him the win.
That’s why Mir has spent so much time eliminating the possibility that Emelianenko catches him with that one big haymaker so he can prove who is really the better fighter on Saturday night.
“I really feel leading up to this fight, outside of getting caught with something, I don’t see where Fedor can beat me,” Mir said. “There’s no way I can lose a decision to him. If it goes the distance, I win the fight. Fedor’s only chance of winning the fight is to catch me with that right hand. He’s a heavyweight and anybody can catch anybody. I’ve seen Stipe Miocic get knocked out by Stefan Struve. Let’s see that happen again. It probably wouldn’t in a million years, but it happened one time, so it can happen. If you eliminate the ‘you got caught’ and just look at who is the better martial artist — well, I’m the better martial artist.
“My boxing, my striking is cleaner. My submissions are way more vicious.”