Judging by some of the online reaction to Frank Mir beating Cheick Kongo at UFC 107 in Memphis this past weekend, you would have thought that he won the UFC Heavyweight Title. Between Mir boosters online claiming that a third match between him and Brock Lesnar would do blockbuster business and other boosters claiming that he's the dominant force in the Heavyweight division, you have to wonder if a lot of the enthusiasm that his fans have for the guy is because the company right now is lacking a lot of compelling characters and story lines.
Make no mistake about it - Frank Mir is one of the best trash talkers ever in the UFC. He always manages to turn a question that someone asks him into an essay where he paints a portrait. The formula for painting that portrait always involves the following: a) how good and naturally talented he is and b) how his opponents are making mistakes and doing things wrong. If you ever listen to Frank Mir talk, he naturally applies this formula to every comment he makes about himself and fights he's involved in. Mir is a very entertaining color commentator on WEC broadcasts on Versus, where he's allowed to appear semi-neutral. When he's hyping up his own fight, he manages to piss off a large section of fight fans and energize people to rally behind his cause.
Case in point - Mir did an interview with Sherdog.com after his UFC 107 bout against Cheick Kongo, a really tall, big kick boxer who had beat legendary fight Mirko Cro Cop in the past. However, Kongo has no ground game and was expected to get whipped by Mir in this fight. That's exactly what happened -- Mir choked him out after knocking him down with a punch. He won the fight in a little over a minute. It was supposed to turn out that way. And yet, the reaction from the fans and media after this squash fight was to celebrate Mir, to portray this as his "he's back to dominance!" comeback. Mir, of course, not only plays into this storyline but manages to weave new feuds and story lines every time he talks. He did this masterfully when discussing his win over Kongo.
"Well you know I feel very confident with my boxing, I train a lot in all aspects of MMA and now with my physical conditioning I know I can go out there and perform up to my technical aptitude through the full duration of the fight, so I went out there and he started throwing punches and I slipped a couple and I am seeing the mistakes he was making that I seen in previous fights that he hadn't corrected, you know, he was too stand-up tall, you see how I slip and move and I'm loose, you know in our sport with heavyweights that throw punches you have to be able to move your head and if you just stand there it's a bad mistake so I caught him with a overhand left and then when he fell down I actually made the mistake of jumping in too fast. I was going in, I should have dug the underhook and pinned him down but instead I missed the underhook and went for the, I was going to go for the D'Arce (choke) and he rotated up to my leg so as soon as he was on his knees he should have bailed out and not given me his neck, I'm too you know I'm proficient in my submission abilities and so I snatched up the neck and I knew I had him, so that's why I pulled guard, I usually don't pull guard when I grab someone's neck unless I know it's in and especially with the cage being right there from training in a cage I know that if your head is on this side, you got to get your legs over here to defend the choke because the cage there, you can't do it. Worse case scenario, he's just going to give the mount, roll over the top, that's why I don't even lock the hip, I kind of bait you to rollover and then I'll mount you against the cage with the guillotine, like we've seen Urijah Faber do and some other fighters when they choke you out that from position."
During WEC fights that he does color commentary for, Mir will often talk about fighters who apply submission holds and discuss whether or not they will be able to hold on and if holding on is exerting too much injury. He often does this when talking about front neck cranks. Frank Mir, when he talks about himself applying these holds, is of course above mere mortals who tire out when applying submission holds. Mir has been bragging about his recent training with American strongman Mark Philippe.
"In the past I would have and I probably would have let it go but due to my physical training I do at Philippe's I know I can hold a choke for more than an extraordinary amount of time and I train that way for the reason being that when I lock on a submission, if it's in tight and I'm already knowing I'm winning the round I'll never let go because I know they won't start the fight over. So I know that I can hold this for 5 minutes and I've already won the round so guess what? You only have two more rounds to win this fight and I'm going to wear you out, it doesn't blow out your biceps if you train properly and I don't squeeze if you look at my facial expressions I'm just doing enough squeeze to hold your head in until I find it in and then you know there's two different types of choke, a blood choke and a windpipe, you know a wind choke, that was more of a wind choke and so it takes a little bit longer, sometimes it takes up to 35, 45 seconds for someone to lose consciousness so I was just patient, especially since he wasn't doing of the proper escapes. I was just like you know he's trying to muscle out of it right now which isn't going to help you, if anything if you muscle out you just strain yourself that much more and it just raises your blood pressure and helps my job that much easier."
Mir has been pushing for a third match with Brock Lesnar, as he should. Their second fight at UFC 100 last July was the biggest PPV in the history of the company. Frank Mir made a lot of money off that fight. Brock Lesnar is UFC's biggest superstar. Put two and two together and Mir is making sure to angle for a third fight, with a little humor on the side.
"It's all up in the air, it all just depends on Brock, you know, Dana had mentioned earlier he needs a major surgery and there's a interim belt, well then basically it will be between the three of us you know and Nogueira's in there, too still, you know, not taking away from him. So I think we'll just have to fight it out, another tournament-style type fight and become the interim champion if that's what it takes for me to get back to Brock. If Brock comes back and he doesn't go for the title and he fights in a prelim then I guess I'll be a prelim fight, that's the way I look at it."
Throughout his career, Mir has been criticized for not training hard enough and being fat. In the last couple of years, he's changed his focus and has become much more serious in terms of getting in shape for fights. It may have not helped him for the Brock Lesnar fight, but it has helped him for other fights against top heavyweight divisional foes.
"Yeah, in the past the weight gain was from nice nutritional supplementation from my wife's cooking. This time it was through just pure hard work from Mark Philippe, just lifting up things I didn't think should be ever lifted by a human being and pushing at a pace I didn't think was humanly capable. So my body, I have good genetics that you know someone else could have did the same amount of weigh training and not got the same results out of it you know so I just happened to be blessed that I have good genetics and I can train hard and get great results from it. In the past that was a curse because I barely had to train and get decent results but that's not the case anymore."
For the time being, Mir is selling himself as hard as he can to the masses and people are buying into the act. Are they buy into Frank Mir: the man, the myth, and the legend, or are they buying into Frank Mir: Brock Lesnar's foil?
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