Frank Mir recalls winning the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship 10 years ago

Photo by Barry Hartman

Photo by Barry Hartman

Winning 14 fights and a UFC championship, having a total of 23 Octagon battles, and owning the most submission wins of any UFC heavyweight are the tremendous accomplishments that set Frank Mir (16-9) apart from the pack. Currently, he is the winningest heavyweight in the promotion’s history with the most bouts ever fought in his division.

Today, June 19, 2014, marks the ten year anniversary of Mir fighting Tim Sylvia for the vacant title at UFC 48. Though Mir wrapped up the win in just 50 seconds that night, chaos ran rampant following his technical submission.

At the time UFC President Dana White, commentator Joe Rogan and even announcer Bruce Buffer were all stunned by what transpired once the fight was waved off by referee Herb Dean. Buffer even made a rare mistake, announcing Mir as the winner and not “the new heavyweight champion”.

A brilliantly executed armbar from Mir had snapped and broke Sylvia’s arm, but that wouldn’t be revealed until the post-fight press conference. Reflecting on that night in an interview with MMA Fight Corner, Mir recollected what unfolded night.

“The single thing that stuck out in my mind the most was how bittersweet the victory in the Octagon was. I had to walk back and everybody was explaining to me that a mistake might have been made, and the tendons could have seemed popped, and they don’t know what was going on, the fight shouldn’t have been stopped. I even had Tim’s cornermen coming into my locker room explaining to me ‘What if a mistake was made and the referee botched the call? Tim’s arm is completely fine. Mistakes happen’ And you know, so basically off a fluke, I had won the championship.

“It wasn’t until Dana announced in the post-fight conference that the fight was indeed stopped correctly. Tim Sylvia had has his arm broken in several places actually. At that moment he was on his way to Valley Hospital, or was there waiting for surgery to remedy the situation. Even though I wouldn’t want Tim to have his arm broken and have the surgery, but at the same time the redemption to know that the fight was stopped correctly and it wasn’t a fluke was an emotive release. But the weird thing was winning the title and not actually being happy about it ’til probably an hour later.”

UFC Fight Pass launched a series today called “Fightography”. Not only does it put all of Mir’s highs and lows captured inside the Octagon in one place for fans to watch, but it also includes a video of Mir recounting his own memories of his fights.

After emerging victorious at UFC 48, a treacherous motorcycle accident threatened to end Mir’s UFC career. It took him nearly two years to make his way back to competing again. During his time spent rehabilitating, he was stripped of the title.

“I actually use it as a learning lesson sometimes; when I go to explain to anybody about overcoming adversity because it wasn’t just a simple, quick fix,” Mir said of the accident.

“It was a very messy year,” Mir continued. “I thought I had that taken care of, I thought we were past this and we have to start over again and climb this obstacle once more. And then you think you move on to the next obstacle only to face the same obstacle you just faced…and that can be very discouraging to have to attack the same issues over and over again from different angles and try to figure out how to put them away and move forward.”

Though he would return an eventually nab the interim heavyweight title at UFC 92, he lost the unification bout against Brock Lesnar. At UFC 111, he faced Shane Carwin for an interim strap, only to be knocked out in the first round. He would again fight Junior dos Santos for the belt at UFC 146, but was technically knocked out in the second round.

Presently, Mir has struggled to bring home a triumphant win. Despite sacrificing time away from his family to reinvigorate his game by training at Jackson-Winklejohn’s MMA in Albuquerque, Mir has lost four in a row.

Now four months removed from his most recent loss to Alistair Overeem, Mir doesn’t know what’s next for him yet. However, spending time with his wife and children has been comforting. Regardless, Mir doesn’t seem ready to hang up his gloves.

“We all have ambitions to compete more. I always wanted to win the title back and go on to push a couple of the records – instead of tied for the most submissions right now in the UFC – there’s always things to push forward and aspire for,” Mir said.

Ahead of UFC 174, Dana White told media that there will be someone inducted to the Hall of Fame during the July 1-6 International Fight Week, but he didn’t reveal who it would be. It’s possible Mir could contemplate stepping away from the sport, perhaps he’s done enough to accomplish that feat. But Mir didn’t seem as though he’s ready to walk away just yet.

Looking over his achievements and past with the UFC, Mir debated if he’s indeed compiled a Hall of Fame worthy career.

“I think time will tell, but I definitely think at least the statistics will last a while as far as I think it takes more than numbers sometimes to be a Hall of Famer. Just because you see people without numbers they still have a huge impact on the sport and can be recognized and put in as a UFC Hall of Fame. So when the time will come, I guess we’ll find out.”

Until Mir decides what’s next, the 35-year old will appear at the UFC Fan Expo on July 4th and 5th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Check the schedule at UFC.com/FightWeek to find out where and when Mir will appear.

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