Mir and the art of war
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
In the weeks leading up to UFC 100’s main event between current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (3-1) and interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir (12-3), the smaller, but more technically savvy fighter played the unlikely role of corner man to his much larger opponent.
"I would just come after me - take a chance,” Mir said, offering some unsolicited advice to Lesnar. “'Cause to sit there and play the cat and mouse game with me, and jab and slip and move around, I think that's a slow death for him that he can't possibly win.
"If Brock really comes out and tries to abandon the running at me, heads over heels and just trying to knock, bull rush me over, I honestly think that's his best approach," Mir added.
At this point, it is anyone’s guess on whether the advice is sincere, offered up during a moment of fatigue during one of Mir’s workouts at Striking Unlimited in Las Vegas, or a ploy to get in Lesnar’s head.
In a world in which every mixed martial artist claims to be different, Frank Mir is certainly a different kind of mixed martial artist. When answering questions, Mir refuses to speak in sound bites, opting instead for paragraphs. You’ll rarely hear him utter the now standard pre-fight clichés—“I had a great training camp,” “I’m going to go out there and put on a good performance,” and “I’m 100% for this fight.” After all, Mir has admitted to starting rumors of his own injuries prior to fights to throw off his opponents, something he picked up from Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War.
As pretentious as this may sound, Mir has already won his UFC 100 bout against the proverbial Goliath—in his mind. For Mir, he recognizes that Lesnar’s advantages are his disadvantages coming into the fight.
“There’s no advantage to being smaller, or we’d have no weight classes. Size can be the advantage when you have fighters of comparable skill. When people say ‘size doesn’t matter,’ everything matters when you have two fighters who are world class,” he said before pointing out Georges St-Pierre’s dismantling of the smaller BJ Penn in January as evidence.
It would be ignorant, and quite possibly insane for Mir to underestimate Lesnar coming into this fight. And though the interim champion holds much more Octagon experience than Lesnar, he is quick to praise Lesnar’s strengths, including his speed and 265-pound frame.
“As far as Brock being too big, he’s not that kind of size,” Mir said in his analysis of Lesnar.
“Being too big can be a disadvantage. If you look at boxing, you don’t see guys weighing 300 pounds that are too successful. In Brock’s case, he’s naturally that big of a guy. He moves quick and he’s agile. That’s one thing I took from our first fight that I made sure I trained for—there were times when I was on the ground and I lost him. I had to watch the tape to see what happened, to watch him rotate from one side of my hips to the other. If he was flat-footed and couldn’t move, I’d recommend that he’d lose some weight. But even his harshest critics aren’t going to say he’s not an explosive athlete.”
To hear Frank Mir tell it, he’s preparing for a Super Man like version of Brock Lesnar. In Mir’s mind, the Brock Lesnar he’ll be facing Saturday night will be bigger, faster, and stronger, than we’ve ever seen before and will possess more MMA knowledge than a veteran Frank Mir. Training for impossible odds and worst-case scenarios is something that the Bonanza High School graduate makes a habit going into fights. According to Mir, if one prepares for the worst, there are no surprises when the bell sounds.
“A fight is still a fight,” he declared. “You’ve still gotta go out there. You can’t fight perfectly on every night of every competition. People make mistakes throughout the battle. The best boxers don’t always win, the best wrestlers don’t always end up NCAA champions because the other person showed up ready to go to war and didn’t accept that fact that [people said] the other person was better.”
Frank Mir displayed a renewed dedication to the sport of MMA last December when he became the first man to stop Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira in a fight, besting the Team Black House fighter via TKO. The victory unveiled a new and improved Frank Mir, including some much improved striking. Mir credits his trainer Ken Hahn for his improvement and a renewed love of the sport.
“Honestly, the biggest thing [Hahn] helped me with was falling back in love with martial arts,” Mir says of his trainer who motivated him to begin training year-round. “Going inside of a cage and having somebody try to beat your face in on a daily basis—if you’re not doing it because you love it, I don’t care how much you make. The first couple of days, you’re going to be excited about it, after that, you’re going to say ‘this is not my thing.’”
At this point, it’s safe to say that MMA is Frank Mir’s “thing.” The cerebral approach he takes to training have gotten him over the mental hump of facing a 6’3, 265-pound heavyweight that moves with the speed of a light weight. If Mir is to emerge the victor on Saturday night, he’ll likely surprise many casual fans and maybe even himself in the process.
“I’m willing to say that if Brock throws me, there won’t be any surprises. If I end up tossing Brock in the air with a throw, I’ll even giggle.”
For up to the minute analysis and commentary of UFC 100, follow Fight News writers Anthony Springer Jr (@SimplyAnthony) and Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) on Twitter.