UFC 164: Frank Mir Still Sees Heavyweight Title Within “Grasp”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Frank Mir is coming off back-to-back losses heading into his UFC 164 bout with Josh Barnett, the 34 year-old veteran hasn’t lost sight of the UFC Heavyweight Championship. After all, it wasn’t long ago when Mir had worked his way back into title contention, before coming up short against Junior dos Santos last May.
While some critics have pointed to the heavyweight’s recent losses as reasons to write Mir’s title aspirations off, the former champ is well accustomed to proving his detractors wrong. Case in point, following his 2006 loss to Brandon Vera, few pundits at the time foresaw Mir securing the interim title as he did in 2008.
“I don’t just concede to wanting to put on big fights, an outcome of my drive is to work back to the title,” Mir said in a recent media call to promote his August 31st bout with Barnett, while discussing his motivation for fighting at this stage of his decorated career. “I don’t see it as a situation where it’s no longer in my grasp.”
“The training I’m doing now, where I’m at in life, being only 34 years of age, I don’t see it as an issue to concede to the fact ‘oh, I’m only going to fight to be an entertaining fight added to the card,” added Mir, who prior to facing dos Santos, had scored wins over Roy Nelson, Dave Herman and Mirko “Cro Cop”. “That’s just not where I’m at in my life.”
While the upcoming Mir-Barnett tilt is a compelling one, due to the fact both are top ten ranked heavyweights hoping to get into the title shot mix, they are two of the sport’s most experienced. Mir (16-7) made his pro debut in 2001 and moved to the UFC later that year, while Barnett (32-6) turned pro in 1997 and made his Octagon debut in 2000.
“Obviously we’re all fighting to eventually become champion again, but because Josh was the champ when I first got in the UFC, there’s a different dynamic on how we look at each other,” said Mir, when asked if there are bragging rights attached to his upcoming bout with Barnett. “I look at it as bragging rights to have a victory over someone like Josh, reason being where he was when I first came in, and what he’s done with his career this whole time.”
And how does Mir think he would have done against Barnett, if they had fought over ten years ago in the UFC?
“I think if we had fought back then I would definitely give the fight to Josh,” Mir conceded. “Mentally I wasn’t prepared and strong; Josh from the beginning of his career had a very strong mindset, mine not so much. I think it’s developed over the years…I think if I had had an opportunity early on in the fight to get a submission, to catch somebody, but if the first couple of submission attempts had failed I would have been in a lot trouble.”
Of course, another intriguing angle to the bout is that it features the renowned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills of Mir, versus the vaunted catch-wrestling game of Barnett. The latter has never tapped out to a submission during his 15 plus year career.
“I’ve fought people before who have never tapped,” noted Mir, who is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Daniel Cormier in April. “You have to have a respect and knowledge of what your opponent is capable of, but at the same time you can’t let it nullify your offence. You can’t sit there and go ‘oh, I’m not going to go for this because he’ll obviously block it’. I think that’s when respect goes to much into apprehension and it causes you to hesitate.”
UFC 164 will be hosted by Milwaukee’s Bradley Center and will feature lightweight champion Benson Henderson taking on Anthony Pettis.