Frank Mir has been in the fight game over 15 years, and the former UFC heavyweight champion has had several career highs – like headlining the historic UFC 100 against Brock Lesnar – and lows, like when he vacated his belt after a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his career.
Listening to Mir speak, one comes away with the impression that he has nothing left to prove to anyone, and it is this attitude that will serve him well in his main event bout against Mark Hunt on March 19 in Brisbane, Australia (March 20 in Australia).
“I really don’t know when I will fight for another title,” he said. “I am very interested in fighting people that are someone in the sport. When I say who I’m fighting and if people ask ‘Who is that?’ that will be a time I might have to find something else to do. If you’re a hunter, you don’t want to go out and hunt squirrel. You’re not going to come home with a squirrel and say ‘look honey, look what I got.’ You want to be on a safari hunting lions and tigers and bears. That is what Mark Hunt represents.
"He’s extremely respected by martial artists, and if I’m successful in this fight, then the next guy I fight will also be a respected man, and if you put enough of those together than you’re in the mix. The heavyweight division is not like the 155-pound division. There you can be 9-0 and still not have a title. But in this division, three or four wins over respected people and you can be fighting for a belt.”
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In a career that has spanned nearly 30 fights, most of them in the UFC, Mir knows very well what he is up against in Hunt. The heavy-handed New Zealand native is always just one punch away from knocking you out, and that fact isn’t lost on Mir. But he says he’s prepared well for the bout.
“I’ve added a lot more kickboxing with takedowns, basically MMA from our feet in this camp,” he said. “That was one thing in my last fight against Andrei Arlovski that threw me off, because every time he threw a kick, that felt alien to me. I could see his hands fine, but when he kicked I was out of my element. In this camp, I had people throwing kicks at me with takedowns and punches, so my reactions will be better. It won’t be anything I see for the first time on the 19th.”
Indeed, the “Super Samoan” is an accomplished kickboxer with thirty wins in the discipline, and while both men have many miles accumulated in their fight careers (Mir is 36 and Hunt 41), both are still racking up impressive victories and, by all accounts, are still in their prime.
Age has forced Mir to train smarter, and he’s found success in the gym.
“I’m very calculated and very efficient as far as the amount of time spent in the gym where I don’t drain myself out,” Mir said. “As I’m getting older, I realize that three-hour practices are a waste of time. You realize that you’ve been doing something for forty-five minutes and you really haven’t accomplished anything. I warm up now, I cool down, and I can socialize, but when I’m sitting on the mat not really doing anything, it’s not something I’m interested in anymore.”
Another aspect of the fight game that Mir has mastered is his private life. Being a professional athlete comes with many responsibilities, and balancing being a husband, father and fighter can a tricky proposition if one isn’t equipped with the proper mindset.
“You have to have people in your life who are willing to compromise, because being a professional athlete is a selfish endeavor,” he said. “For example, my daughter is on a traveling softball team and she had to go to California a few weekends ago and I couldn’t go because of training. The last thing I need two weeks before a fight in Australia is to be in a car for six hours, and my wife understood even before I said I couldn’t go. It wasn’t even a question.
"It’s not best for me as an athlete. My daughter understands this too. At most, I will go to my kids’ football game on the weekend but that’s about it. In January, I will help out, but the last few weekends I’m trying to recover. I’m watching but I can’t be involved at all.”