Against the odds: the history of Frank Mir’s UFC career

by: Sohail Arif / Jack Bratcher

Frank Mir started his UFC career in 2001 at UFC 34 against a very high level BJJ black belt practitioner in Roberto Traven (Mundial winner and an ADCC champion). Frank Mir was a purple belt at the time and submitted Travern in just over one minute into round one.  It was a very impressive debut and everyone took notice.

In his next bout at UFC 36 Frank was pitted against UFC veteran Pete Williams. Williams had faced the likes of Kevin Randleman, Semmy Schilt and former UFC HW Champion, Ricco Rodriguez.  He had never been submitted in his career, yet Frank Mir in his second UFC bout submitted Williams in just 46 seconds with a very impressive shoulder lock.

Frank Mir in his third UFC Bout was then thrown to Ian Freeman, a crafty veteran who held (at that time) a 13-5 record. Ian dedicated the fight to his father who had just passed away and the fight was held in Ian’s hometown of London, England.  Mir got caught with a right early in the fight and then took the fight to the ground and began looking for submissions.  Freeman fought through most of the submission attempts but then got caught in a heel hook. Freeman then hit Mir with an illegal strike and escaped.

For some reason Big John didn’t stop the fight or warn Freeman and everything went downhill from there for Mir; he gassed out and took some vicious ground and pound. The fight was stopped near the end of the first round and it was Mir’s first loss.

David ‘’Tank’’ Abbott was making his return at UFC 41 and the UFC hyped him up to the max.  They wanted to give him a ‘’gimmie’’ fight before they put him in the title picture so they pitted him up against Frank Mir, thinking Tank would do to Mir what Freeman did.  However, Mir had other plans and again in just 46 seconds, he took Tank down and submitted him with a vicious toe hold.  It was a very big upset at the time and a big win for Mir in only his sixth MMA bout.

Next up for Frank Mir was Wes Sims at UFC 43.  Mir took him down right away, mounted him and went for an armbar.  Wes Sims escaped and got to his feet where he began to stomp Mir’s head.  The highly illegal foot stomps got Sims an immediate disqualification.

Mir got a chance for redemption at UFC 46 where he completely dominated Sims in the rematch.  In round one Mir took Sims down, mounted him and attempted submissions, yet Sims survived.  Finally, near the end of round two Mir got his ultimate revenge with a brutal knockout of Wes “The Project” Sims.

Next up for Frank Mir was UFC 48 where he was the put up against the undefeated UFC Heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Big Tim seemed unstoppable at the time with a 16-0 record and big wins over Ricco Rodriguez, Cabbage, Whitehead, Lambert, Gan McGee and Ben Rothwell.  Although Frank Mir was a huge underdog coming into this fight, he did what he does best.  He put Sylvia in a armbar in just 40 seconds and snapped his forearm in half.  The referee stopped the fight and Frank Mir was crowned UFC Heavyweight champion.

Following the 2004 title victory, Frank Mir was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident that broke his femur and tore all the ligaments in his knee. The bone broke in two places and doctors told Mir he may not be able to walk again, let alone go back to fighting.

Mir was then stripped of the title and a interim UFC Heavyweight Champion was crowned in Andrei Arlovski.

Mir, being the athlete and champion he is, proved the doctors wrong and returned to professional competition in 2006. Nowhere near a hundred percent, Mir walked into the Octagon at UFC 57 against BJJ Black belt Marcio ‘’Pe de Pano’’ Cruz.

The fight started and went straight to the mat where Cruz landed a few strikes that opened a cut on Mir’s face. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight to check the cut and Mir told him he couldn’t see out of one eye. Mir showed great heart in continuing but the fight was stopped near the end of round one when Mir could no longer intelligently defend himself.

Mir returned at UFC 61 against Dan Christison and even though Mir won he didn’t look impressive.  Due to the leg injury he couldn’t train as much as he needed and came into the fight noticeably bloated  and out of shape.

Mir was then put in against young up and comer in Brandon Vera at UFC 65. Vera was undefeated at the time and caught Mir with a right hook followed by a knee and Mir was TKO’d in the first round.

Mir then rededicated himself and finally started to feel a bit like the champion he had been before the accident.  He was said to be in much better shape when he returned at UFC 74 in August of 2007 to face Antoni Hardonk.  He scored a first round Kimura win over Hardonk.

In February of 2008 Frank Mir was put in against UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar at UFC 81. Lesnar, who was not only an NCAA wrestling champion but one of the most intimidating figures ever to enter the Octagon, in only his second MMA fight ever, was being shown as the odds favorite over Mir.  Although Lesnar came out like a possessed gorilla and delivered some initial strikes, Mir submitted Lesnar via Kneebar in 1:30 of round one.

Now is the time and Frank Mir is where he needs to be.  He has all the hype and publicity of The Ultimate Fighter behind him and he is in the best shape of his life.

On December 27 at Ultimate 2008, if Frank Mir can defeat one of his idols in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira then he will be in prime position to face a man he has already defeated in Brock Lesnar to regain the UFC Heavyweight Title that he never lost in the first place.  Will Frank Mir be able to defy the odds one more time?

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