It’s been nearly a year since we’ve seen Frank Mir in the Octagon. He’s gone through a myriad of change in his life since losing to Junior dos Santos for the UFC Heavyweight Championship back at UFC 146 last May. Following the fight, Mir was slated to fight Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce last November, but Mir injured himself in training and subsequently had surgery. Now that Mir’s fully recovered, the Cormier fight is happening on April 20 in San Jose, CA at the HP Pavilion on UFC on FOX 7’s fight card.
Mir has also decided to train among some of the most elite fighters in the business at Jackson-Winklejohn’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico ahead of fighting Cormier. For Mir, it’s the first time he’s officially traveled outside of his native Las Vegas and out of his “comfort zone” to train. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion made the realization that change had to be made in order for him to achieve future success.
“I just kind of knew, the wife and I had been talking about it, I’ve been in the UFC for twelve years, what I needed to do to step up my game and not training at home in my own backyard where I’m always a father and a husband first,” Mir told MMA Fight Corner in a recent interview. “I show up to practice late because I have baseball practice, I might leave early because I have a banquet or a teacher’s meeting to go to. Whereas now I travel, I know that Monday through Thursday, Friday morning, I’m just a fighter. I get to train and in between the practices I go home to the hotel room, take a nap and relax, and focus on practice.”
Mir went on to explain the rigorous nature of working with head trainer Greg Jackson and how it’s allowing him to solely focus on his preparation for the April bout against Cormier. With a motivated mindset to be the best Frank Mir we’ve ever seen, he went on to detail how much he’s pushing himself above and beyond in advance of the fight.
“I’m there a little bit early, I can stay a little bit late work out things. Whereas when I’m home, we all have wives, if I stay at practice, I’d better be in the car a 8:15. I can’t explain that I’ve been working on a choke or something for 45 minutes. Whereas if I’m in Albuquerque, I’ll be up there Andre Arlovski might be showing me something, [Travis] Browne, Jon Jones is showing me a different way to do something, I can sit there for an hour afterwards and pick people’s brains and be at the mercy of mixed martial arts.”
“Before I think I’d try go to practice and if I did a hard work out, I wasn’t going home and taking a nap, relaxing and recuperating. And now for 24 hours a day I’m a martial artist fighter. I go there and they put me through some hellacious workouts, it’s no secret I’m a little bit of a poor swimmer. Two days out of the week I’m in the pool treading water for my life.”
“They’ve got things building up,” Mir continued. “And that’s one thing that Greg is good about, it’s not just to prove that I was out of shape and smash me the first day which anybody with a whistle can make anybody puke. He’s really building them up to be better martial artists, he really has a great curriculum where everything is for a purpose.”
His TKO loss to Junior dos Santos served as the catalyst that made Frank realize it was time to switch up things. It was a title fight that Mir had been plugged into after Alistair Overeem had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. With only five weeks to devise a gameplan for dos Santos, Mir admitted he didn’t work as hard as he should have to go after the gold strap.
“Coming off a loss against JDS, halfway through the first round I’m thinking ‘Man, I’ve got to get in better shape, I’ve got to get lighter.’ I don’t want to have to think that anymore during a fight.”
“Different things factored into it. One, my own inadequacies toward driving myself hard enough.” Frank added. “Two, up until five weeks before that I was preparing for Cain Velasquez…he comes straight at you. The urgency should always be to come in lighter and be in shape, but it wasn’t as a factor. And then all of sudden five weeks out, it was like ‘Now okay, we’re not worrying about a guy running you over, you’re going to have to go chase a guy down’ and I really wasn’t prepared for it as much as I should have been. The blame really goes on me, because people around me were saying ‘Hey you got to do this, you’ve got to do that’, but I didn’t really put myself in the best situation to be successful.”
After discussing his next move with his wife and his father, they agreed it’d be best Frank devote himself to training 100% of the time. So onto Jackson’s he went.
Cormier is an opponent that Mir has had plenty of time to dissect being that they were already on tap to collide last November. After watching Cormier’s battles with Josh Barnett and Dion Staring inside the Strikeforce cage, Mir immediately assessed one glaring attribute lacking from Cormier’s game.
“I pretty much know the guy. He has extremely strong, efficient wrestling. I think he throws his hands pretty fast and without abandon. I don’t think he’s the most technical boxer in the world, I don’t think he even thinks he’s the most technical boxer in the world. He’s definitely not JDS, but who is? On the ground though, it really showed me, let’s face it, if I had the same guy on the ground fight would have ended pretty quickly. He wasn’t able to put the guy away through a lack of finishing abilities, through a lack of finishing moves. So that’s one thing that actually surprised me,” said Mir.
“I thought he couldn’t finish Josh because of Josh’s abilities, but then I realized ‘No, he doesn’t really have much finishing ability’. He can catch you with a punch, let’s face it, every heavyweight over 200 pounds has that ability to finish a fight if he catches you. But you got to have the ability to finish with the submission, you know definitive ground and pound where you actually finish somebody off against the cage and it’s menacing. Not just finally the referee’s like ‘Well, you know, I guess the guy’s had enough. You really can’t put him away let me help end this fight for you.'”
Frank Mir is renowned for his finishing moves, restructuring his opponents limbs, and for the relentless force in which he’s able to submit those that dare to test him on the ground. Cormier is a former NCAA division I wrestler who also competed in the Olympic Games. The heavyweights will go to war on April 20th in the co-main event at UFC on FOX 7. UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson will defend his title for the third time against Strikeforce’s last lightweight title holder, Gilbert Melendez in the main event.