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From The Mouth of Mir

If you talk or listen to former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir for any length of time, odds are that you will walk away with something new to think about when it comes to the fight game. As his UFC 119 main event bout against Mirko Cro Cop approaches, here are a few tidbits from the Mouth of Mir.

On his motorcycle accident

“Because it was a clean break, I was told that I could come back and still play ‘full contact sports’ – as the doctor said it.  I don’t think he realized the extent of it. (Laughs)  But he got the point that I needed to be able to take a really hard shot from really crazy and stupid angles.  That was what I asked him.  ‘It’s not really normal angles that I’m gonna be getting hit at – it’s really crazy, tweaky angles, something really weird.’  He said, ‘well, as long as it wouldn’t have broken under normal conditions, it should be fine now.’  Basically, what the muscle side saved me from is that my leg would have shattered, broke in several pieces, and then they would have to piece it back together.  There would be no chance in hell that I’d ever be able to take a shot there again.  The fact that it was a clean break and they were able to put a rod right in between the bone saved it.”

On his motorcycle accident II

“It made me an old man. It gave me a taste of what it’s like to be older. You go back and forth, and some days are better than others. I think anybody who’s had a major accident or major injury realizes that one day you’re full of hope and the next day you’re like ‘this sucks, this is too long of a road, I’m depressed.’ But you have to sit there and go, ‘people have got it a lot worse than you do and they don’t snivel half as bad.  Chill out.’ Everybody does that - they feel sorry for themselves at one moment or another and then you just have to catch yourself.  I was watching the Science Channel and they were talking about a guy who got his arm blown off.  He’s got a mechanical arm now and he’s just happy that he can lift up his baby and hold her.  I’m sitting there looking at this guy and going ‘wow, and I’m depressed that I’ve got a metal rod in my leg? What the hell is my problem?  I’d be embarrassed if this guy ever heard me talking.’”

Skill is everything

“When I got hit by the car and I realized how frail my body really is – and I’m a strong human being – it just reaffirmed the fact that skill is everything. I’m not always going to be able to jump this high or run this fast – how am I going to be able to beat people if I don’t have this?  If I’m weaker, if I’m tinier?  Let’s say I go into a fight and I only have one hand – now what am I gonna do?  So all it did was show me a glimpse of the future – you’re 25 now, but you’re not always gonna be, so what are you gonna do when we take this away from you?  And it was taken away from me. ”

The power of the mind

“I see guys push their strength and push the physical side of their bodies and I look at them and say, ‘that’s not why we’re on top of the food chain.’ They’re like ‘what do you mean?’ An orangutan can rip your head off.  You can get (noted strongman) Bill Kazmaier, and a 150-pound orangutan is gonna throw him around the gym.  So all that strength and all that training, what good did it do?  So why not accentuate what makes humans so dangerous? Your mind. I actually just pushed my mind a step further where it kinda shot my skill level through the ceiling.  I was like, ‘you know what?  It’s all about skill.’  I don’t care what anybody wants to tell me about being bigger, stronger, faster.  You could have cardio that can last three days – if I choke you out in 30 seconds it doesn’t matter how long your cardio lasts.”

The Return

“Everybody asks, ‘can you make it back?’” After a while, I realized that as long as I can pass what the doctors consider physically enough to compete, that’s all I need my body to be to perform and to beat people, because the thing that they’re all missing is that they’re just trying to be bigger, stronger, faster.  And that’s not a good thing to have in your confidence because when you walk in the ring and you’re about to fight a human being - I’ve done it, so I know what they’re thinking and what I’m thinking -  you have to have something you have pure confidence in.  I don’t think size, strength, and power can do that.  What if you’re fighting a guy who’s bigger than you, stronger than you?  What if you don’t feel that strong that day?  What’s your confidence gonna derive from now?  I know that my mind gives me the ability to go ‘well, I’ll figure it out.’  So when I walk into the ring, I don’t care what you put in front of me because I know that I’m gonna figure it out.”

On Winning Fights

“I don’t care how I win the fight. I think sometimes a lot of young fighters get stuck in that thing where they say ‘I want to be considered a stand-up guy, so I’ll knock you out,’ or ‘I want to be considered a submission artist so I have to get the armbar or the choke,’ or ‘I have to get the ground and pound and show that I’m a superior takedown artist.’  I don’t care.  I’ve heard fighters go, ‘well, I got knocked out, but I stood here and I took it.’  I would look over at my wife, look at the ring and I’m like ‘did that guy just say that he lost, but he lost like a man?’  What the hell does that mean?  I don’t understand that because it’s all warfare, and I just want to win.  I’m not gonna go outside the rules; I’m still gonna be an honorable human being and say ‘these are the ground rules we settled upon.  Anything within those ground rules, I’m gonna use.’  I’m not gonna go ahead and prove a point in the face of defeat, because all people remember a week later is, ‘man, did you get knocked out heroically.’  I remember when I knocked out Wes Sims, everybody was like ‘well, you couldn’t submit him.’  I really didn’t care.  I was more like, ‘damn, I can’t submit this guy.’  I went after him with whatever I thought was best; I was in the middle of the ring, I looked up at the clock and said, ‘I’d better adapt. I can’t beat this guy this way.’”

Getting Subs like Tyson got Knockouts

“Guys line up, they want to feel each other out.  They get their range, they get their distance.  I don’t really understand that.  It’s still fighting.  How are we gonna feel each other out?  You’d better be doing that when you’re looking me in the eyes and we’re walking towards each other.  As the battle engages you have to think and move on your feet.  As an example, in boxing, guys go out there and they start throwing the jab and move around, and in the first two minutes, nothing’s really happening.  I think that’s ridiculous.  And the minute I engage and we’re within hand distance, I’m thinking about finishing you because the only way I can secure my own safety is if you’re unconscious on the ground.  That’s just my mentality about it.  The reason I think that I end up thrashing a lot of guys so soon is that most guys, when they start a fight off, they’re still getting over their fear.  They want to almost feel you to feel that it’s okay that they’re in the fight. Once they get past that, now they can fight and they get rid of their jitters.  I don’t have those jitters when I first start out.  I go in there and boom, I’m trying to rip your head off.  It’s not an anger thing, I’m just more of a surgeon.  I’m not going to sit here and tap at the cancer, look around at it and feel it, talk to the nurse and get a cup of coffee.  I’m here to do something, so let’s get it done. They haven’t conquered their fear. They’re physical fighters and not mental fighters, so they have to get in there and you have to put them in a fight before they react.  You have to almost fight them to get them into a fight zone.  But if you let me get the first move off on you, action beats reaction.  If you let me start on you, and you’re waiting to get into that zone, that killer freak mode, the fight’s over with and they’ve raised my hand before you’ve realized it.”

Comparing his fight against Tank Abbott to the first bout against Brock Lesnar

“Yeah, I see a lot of parallels. It’s a new guy coming in who’s hyped up and who is expected to do well for the UFC, and I’m put in front of him as a test. But it doesn’t seem to work out that well for the newcomer.”

Getting back to championship level

“I guess like anything else, there are highs and lows. But your family and friends get you through the low points, and you just ride it out. You keep pushing forward no matter how discouraging it can be.”

On being the underdog

“I think it’s easier to be an underdog because whenever you’re already expected to win even before you go in there, that puts undue pressure on yourself, whereas when no one is expecting anything of you, you can kinda just relax and perform.”

Changing his game

“I think the difference is now that I’ve accomplished enough to know that I have other tools. If you survive that first submission attempt that’s not all there is. I think in the past, once that was stopped, it was like ‘well, that was my Sunday punch; I’m still here, you’re still here – now what do we do?’ (Laughs) Now I work on having a lot more tools, so I can say ‘Plan A didn’t work, Plan B is working, Plan C may work, let’s go back to Plan A if he’s loosened up enough to try that maneuver again,’ and I’m looking for the finish the whole time.”

On the first Lesnar bout

 “Constant motion was key to not having the fight stopped. I was not winning that fight in the first minute and 20 seconds. I thought he was gonna stand up with me,” said Mir. “I figured as big and strong as he was, he wasn’t gonna take me down and that he gonna try to land bombs. When he took me down, his shots were strong from inside the guard, but after he hit me with a couple of shots, I didn’t want to tie him up and wear myself out too much because he was so strong.  So something just clicked in my head – let him swing and I’m gonna move my head around and let him miss shots.  A couple of shots landed – he has some strong ground and pound.”

On finishing Lesnar

“The kneebar wasn’t the greatest and he started to slip out of it, but if you’re a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a good athlete, you could make up for things. It wasn’t a textbook finish, I wish it was, but I ended up doing things 80 percent right, and it was me just saying ‘I don’t want to get elbowed again.’”

His return to the title picture

“I feel like I’ve earned it more. In the fights in the past I didn’t train well for them, so even in victory, sometimes you’d see me and I wasn’t elated. I didn’t deserve to win. I caught somebody like Tim Sylvia, and you could see in my face after the fight that I knew I hadn’t earned it. And it’s not because of what I did in the ring, but it’s what I did outside the ring. Now after this fight, whether I win or lose, you’ll see me smile because I know that I earned the right to be there because of all the time and effort I put into it. That’s what I’m proud about. Anybody can go and win a fight. One lucky punch and it’s your night - that doesn’t mean you deserved it. That doesn’t mean you put in the hard work and earned it. Win or lose, you earn it outside the ring.”

Coaching on The Ultimate Fighter

“I learned more from them than they probably learned from me. They have so many different approaches to the game that I learned about the human mind. I can only dissect myself so many different times. I have eight different points of view now, so how could it not multiply immensely?”

On bulking up post-Lesnar II

“We all have our opinions and pre-conceived notions of how something should work based on past success or through learning from other individuals. And then when you walk into it, if you fail, you have to be intelligent enough to sit there and say ‘why did I fail?’ I think that any time you sit there and stick to your guns, going ‘well, on that night, this is what happened and it had nothing to do with something else,” that’s silly. I had to acknowledge that Brock’s size gave him an advantage that really nullified a lot of my technique. He didn’t have to have my level of technique, just a moderate amount, and then having good basics, along with his size, led him to be successful. So I have to learn from that and improve. There’s nothing shameful about it, it’s just one of those things where that’s part of being a scientist – you have a hypothesis, a theory, and you go out there and try it out. You stop being a scientist when you just start doing the same things over and over again and just try to find different ways of justifying why it’s not working. You can’t just keep being in denial.”

On his fighting philosophy

“I’m more of a ‘get you out fast’ fighter. I like a quick sprint and I don’t like to stretch things out stylistically. I’ve always been bored with the take you down, ground and pound and wrestle you to death and win a decision on points type of matchup. And secondly, I think if I was to go in there, hesitate, and try to purposely see if the fight went longer, I think that only leaves him opportunities to catch me making a mistake. I have the mindset to go out there and the first mistake he makes I will try to take him out of there. But in the back of my mind, I’m not gonna be as worried with the fight going the distance as I would be with other fighters who have been there quite a few more times.”

On his career

“I think my career’s been a pretty interesting one as far as some really good highs and some really good lows, and it really hasn’t been a consistent increase in any one direction. I’ve been at it long enough that on a long enough time curve, anything in life will have its ups and downs. But as long as you keep bouncing back and going forward, you’ll have those high moments in contrast to the low ones. The reason why my life is different than someone’s in the same situation is that I never stopped trying to move forward. It’s not that I’ve got anything different going for me than anybody else. I think we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I’m not inhuman. I obviously have my shortcomings like anybody else; I just don’t give up. I just keep looking for a way to succeed, regardless of whether I do or not. That’s not a guarantee for success, but the only way you guarantee failure is by giving up.”