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Exclusive Interview: Frank Mir

Former UFC champ Frank Mir was once sitting atop the heavyweight division before a motorcycle accident nearly ended his career. His road back has been a rocky one. A couple tough losses had him questioning his decision to keep fighting, but he has since rededicated himself to the sport and has found new life after a high-profile victory over Brock Lesnar.

Now he’s coaching opposite Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in season eight of “The Ultimate Fighter,” premiering Wednesday night on Spike TV. In this exclusive interview with, Mir talks about his impending fight with Nogueira, Randy Couture‘s return, and just how much he hates cardio training. Frank, we’ve heard past coaches say they don’t like how long the show keeps them out of action, how they’re fighters and not coaches. What was your experience like coaching “The Ultimate Fighter?”

I found it quite enjoyable. I really didn’t think it was all that difficult to be honest with you. Obviously nothing’s easy in the fight game, but it wasn’t like I resented the position at all. It opened my eyes up to a lot of new things as a fighter, seeing other people and how they react to different situations, how they deal with things, and helped me understand how to help them out by thinking about what I would need in that situation. It was kind of nice to jump back that way because it gave me a better understanding of myself.

What does it do to your climactic fight with Nogueira now that Randy Couture is back in the UFC and they’re hyping his match with Brock Lesnar, a man you beat, for the heavyweight title?

I definitely think it takes some of the wind out of the sails. That’s for sure. But I love the fact that Randy’s back. I think he’s a great representative of the sport and I thought it was a travesty that he might have ended his career in a courtroom.

The fact that he’s back, I think that’s great. I’m not upset with that at all, but I think that Nogueira obviously should have been his first fight back, since he’s holding the interim belt. But since Nogueira and I are already slated to fight each other I thought that with him coming back he would wait to fight the winner of Nogueira and myself. I think that would have worked out perfectly. But with contract negotiations and all that I don’t know what the deal was.

The only thing I’m at odds with is that he’s fighting a month before Nogueira and I fight, and that brings up the question of what we’re fighting for. Now he’s fighting Lesnar and he’s getting a shot at the heavyweight title while I’m getting a shot at the interim title. Since I just beat Lesnar, that’s kind of interesting.

Interesting is one word for it. Obviously you’re focused on fighting Nogueira now, so how do you think you stack up against him? What do you do better than him?

I think basically we’re the same. It’s really difficult to say if there’s anything I do really better than Nogueira. I think it’s in the details. I’m a much more explosive athlete. When I submit people, I kind of explode for the submission and take people out more. Nogueira will kind of grapevine you up and all of a sudden you’re trapped and the submission comes slowly as the doors close in on you.

His endurance has been shown to look better than mine has in the past, so that’s one area I think he’ll try and capitalize on. I think he’ll try and wear me out and stay out of trouble and then once I’m tired try to submit me. If I was Nogueira, that’s what I’d be looking for. But knowing that’s what he’s looking for, that’s what I’m preparing for. There’s not going to be a moment in the fourth or fifth round where I’m defenseless due to a lack of conditioning.

I read the Real Fighter cover story on you where you said you’d rather get beaten with baseball bats than run a mile. Do you really hate conditioning that much?

Yeah, I think straight conditioning I hate, but I’ve figured out a way to overcome that. I don’t like to get on a treadmill and just run, but I love fighting. I would much rather jump in and spar six different, fresh guys until I can’t go anymore and really push myself to the limit. It’s hard cardio, but it’s doing something I enjoy doing.

I’m also the last person to volunteer to get up early on a Saturday morning and go down to a track and run laps, but I know I need to run so instead me and the other fighters get together and play flag football. So I’m running sprints up and down the field, everybody’s gassed out, and for about an hour and a half we’re doing cardio but at the same time I’m entertaining myself. I think every fighter has to do that as he gets older, learning, these are my strengths and these are my weaknesses.

I also read that you went through some tough moments after some of those losses where you thought about retiring and your wife talked you out of it. How did you get through those dark moments to get to where you are now?

I contribute it to my wife. I told her that she was going to be the offensive lineman in my career. I’m not going to gain a single yard without her, but at the end of the day I’m the one doing the press conference like it was all me. Just like in the NFL, the linemen do all the work and the running back gets the glory. My wife definitely came to my rescue, and she didn’t do it for financial gain, she didn’t do it because she wanted me to be a fighter, but she did it because she saw how miserable I was when I was injured and couldn’t compete. She didn’t want me to go out from a choice and not circumstances. If it was circumstances and I had given it my all, she knew I could live with it. But she didn’t want to see me at forty years old wondering what would have happened if I had done all I could.

By her being on my ass the way she is, she really helped me. She said things that, let’s face it, I’m 6’3” 255 or 270 pounds at times, so there are a lot of people who aren’t going to tell me the things I need to hear. My wife, even though she’s 5’4”, she told me what I needed to hear, and sometimes it hurts to hear the truth, but I needed it.

Looking at your career when you started and you were just running through people, then looking at coming back and losing a couple of fights, does it seem like two separate careers?

Yeah, definitely. My first career, it came very easily. I’m very confident as an athlete, and throughout high school I excelled at every sport I ever did from track to football to wrestling, and fighting was the same way. I’ve been fighting my whole life, and it came easily at first. The mental aspect didn’t come around because I didn’t need it as much.

But the second part of my career, I had to develop my mind because my body was slow to come around. Those matches I fought I wasn’t able to dominate people with just physical prowess, so I had to rally myself up. I’m glad it happened, though I wish I could have learned the mental aspect in some other way, but fate had it that I got a crash course. I had to learn it in a much harder way, and it was just a rough stretch there.

Does working your other job as a WEC commentator ever seem like a distraction from your training and your fighting career?

Not at all. Martial arts, most of it’s mental. If it was all physical, more people could do it. Right now I could go down to the local gym and find eighty guys who are killing themselves on the machines and on the weights, but that’s not going to help them in a fight against someone of my caliber because of the mental aspect of it. So when I’m sitting there analyzing fights, I’m getting better at understanding fighting. I might not be doing reps, but your body has to rest anyway. Your mind doesn’t. You can study it all day.

It seems like you and Nogueira are the opposite of what they usually look for in TUF coaches. Neither of you are hotheads, you don’t hate each other, there’s just no animosity between you. Is that accurate?

Yeah, I have a ton of respect for Nogueira. He’s a legend in our sport. He’s the heavyweight I’ve most tried to emulate in my career. So being around him was a pleasure. At the same time, we’re both very competitive. I don’t have to hate you to want to beat you. And I think it’s the same for him.

The only time people have to build up hatred for an opponent is because they need to build up courage, and I don’t have to build courage to fight. I’ve done it enough times that it’s not about being scared for me. It’s a competition for me. I don’t need to get you to say something to make me pumped up. For me it gets in the way and clouds your mind.

I’m sure you expect to come out on top against him, so who do you think you’ll be facing in the finals of what we’re now calling the heavyweight tournament?

I think Brock Lensar has a lot of potential and eventually he’s going to be a tough person to beat, but I think it’s early in his career and he’s facing a guy with a phenomenal wrestling background as well whose been in this sport a long time now. Randy has a lot of experience and I just don’t see in a five-round fight Lesnar being able to take him out.

Cagepotato Comments

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Phenom116- September 19, 2008 at 8:31 pm
I love listening to people talk about how "indestructable" Brock is and then in the same breath they trash Frank Mir! Let's not forget that this is the SAME Frank Mir that had your boy, C*ck.... I mean.... Brock tapping in 91 seconds. I know... I know.... It was "luck" or "a bad ref job" that the match was stopped when Frank was getting hit in the back of the head yada yada yada... Rules are rules and they're there for a reason. Had Brock not broken them then there would have been no reason to stop the fight, so who's fault is that??

Now that we've seen Brock put a beating of sorts on Heath Herring he MUST be the next heavyweight champion of the world, right? Let me tell you something.... Randy is going to make Brock look like an absolute IDIOT in November, Frank Mir would finish that fight the SAME EXACT WAY 99 out of 100 times and Big Nog would eat Brock alive too!!!

So now all you WWE nuthuggers can take your sisters by the hands and go back to the basements of your parents trailers in the hopes that maybe one day your OTHER hero, Stone Cold Steve Austin decides to trade in his wrestling tights for some MMA gloves. But until that happens please leave the MMA talk for the people with little things... You know things like an education, jobs and even TEETH who actually know enough about the sport to respect the champions of both past and present. Something your boy Brock "can you see me now" Lesnar will never be able to claim.

From now on he can continue to cut promos where he bodyslams sharks and various other big fish, look impressive with his water laden/enhanced muscles and whatever the hell else you trailer dwellers like to see him do. HOWEVER, until he learns (some BASIC) BJJ 101, he's not going to amount to JACK SQUAT in the world of MMA!! You say Frank Mir isn't top 20, so where THE HELL does that leave Brock?? Ooooooooh, I remember.... That match was a fluke, right? Frank got lucky, eh? Brock took Heath Herring to school and his trainers are now looking for Dana White to set up a match with Fedor because afterall, he IS ready for it!!! Give me a FREAKIN break!!!

Bottom line.... Brock has talent and Brock has potential, BUT BROCK IS NOT A CHAMPION!!! Frank Mir beat Brock because he IS A BETTER, MORE WELL ROUNDED and MUCH MORE EXPERIENCED FIGHTER! PERIOD!!! And after Randy is done embarassing Brock I can't wait to see the looks on all the faces of your mini-van driving, Newport smoking and trailer park inhabitant, WWE retards! Good day to you all!
mlotz779- September 17, 2008 at 5:05 am
Ok, tuf guy if your such a bad ass why aren't you competing and letting people know your name. My guess is your like a lot of people who use the computer to talk shit. I have met Frank Mir in real life and watched him fight for years. He has heart and has probly the best ground game of all heavyweights nog. is obviously an equal opponent and arguably the only heavyweight who could come close to being as good on the ground as mir. I don't know if you've seen or heard mma fighters comment on those who trash fighters. When a match is set of course the fighters hype it up and some actually hate each other. But there is always something called class and sportsmanship. You don't sound like you have either. If you were in any kind of known mma classing, such as ufc, wec, kotc etc... you'd be a discrace to the other fighters. It is just uncalled for. Anyway nog and mir should be an explosive and exciting fight. Also I believe lesner has the potential to make his move to the top. he started his career with mir, then hearing, now randy. All are undoubtably the best of the best. With some more experience and a lot of jiu jitsu training he'll compete toe to toe with the best. Personally I don't like him but he looked good in his last fight and I believe he'll just progress more and more with time.
eugene is a fag- September 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm
i love everyone that gets on here and acts like they are fight critics

shut up
walrus- September 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm
Frank Mir's a great guy; the giant killer.

anyone ever think he'd be really successful as a light-heavyweight? It always puzzled me he was a heavy-weight.
Eugene- September 16, 2008 at 4:28 am
A super heavyweight division is the only way you nuthuggers will see Butterbean in the UFC and nobody needs to see that. 265 isn't THAT big. If you can't handle that size of an opponent you shouldn't be in that division anyways. As Couture is probably going to do, he will use Brock's size "advantage" against Brock. Mr. Miagi could tell you that strategy...

Mir might be a nice guy and all but he isn't a top 20 heavyweight anymore. Since his accident he has sucked monkey balls and you all know it, and that sucks since he is a nice guy and all. He got a LOT of help from horrible reffing and a LOT of luck to beat Brock. Nog is going to destroy him.
MIRacle- September 16, 2008 at 3:02 am
tuf guy is some fucking loser that knows nothing about the sport and his first amendment rights should be taken away. frank is a great guy and deserves to win.
E- September 15, 2008 at 9:56 pm
While I don't think Mir will be able to beat Big Nog, I do think that he has a VERY bright future as a color commentator. He keeps improving with every WEC event, and with his existing knowledge base, he will soon consistently be the best color commentator in the business.
Agonistes- September 15, 2008 at 6:36 pm
to everyone talking about Lesnar as a huge, freak of a man figthing at super heavyweight with no one anywhere near his size, i leave you with this...
Shane Carwin
and that's all i've got to say about that.
TUF Guy says it all, huh?- September 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm
TUF Guy- September 15, 2008 at 6:20 pm
I've met him in real life. He's not as tough as he sounds. I submited him with a rear knee choke in like 20 seconds. He was tapping so fast I thought there were some rabbits getting it on in the ring somewhere. They finally tazed me and got me off him. I yelled "YOU WANT SOME MORE ?!?!" He was all like "No man I am cool, chill bro" , I yelled back "DO YOU WANT SOME MORE FRANK?!?!" He was all like "No dude, I am good bro". Then he went to lift his 15lb dumbells in the corner somewhere trying to hide his tears. So like later on I walked by him and bumped him with my shoulder and he just kinda looked down and was like "heh , hey whats u...ahhh" before he even finished I just submited him with a wrist lock around his left ankle and he was all like "yo yo yoo, c'mon please please plase ahh stop stop" like the lil bitch he is. I let go of him cause I felt sorry for the people that had to wipe all those tears of the floor later on. I swear all this happened for real.
Jeff- September 15, 2008 at 5:45 pm
Thank you Frank for coming and showing love to Cage Potato! You are the man.

Keep up the good work!
mmmiles- September 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm
Doh, I was just being sarcastic!`

Frank Mir is a real credit to MMA, I hope he is around for awhile. Can't wait to watch Mir and Nog on TUF.
Kim Couture is a cunt- September 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm
Mir is a good dude.
Shawn- September 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm
They need to keep the huge weight gap to keep it competitive. Simply put, there's not enough fighters out there in that weight range to have a competitive division were they cut it down. Just as speculation, roughyl 80% of the male population weighs 140-220 lbs. Then weigh in the large percent of those over 220 who are simply fat and out of shape and finding guys that are that big and in shape is much, much harder then finding guys who are at, say, 170. On top of that, Lesnar is a freak of nature. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone around Lesnar's size with his speed, agility, and conditioning. The vast majority of guys at that weight are slow and sloppy. There's no reason to create a Super Heavyweight Division because one beast of a man shows up.
Derly- September 15, 2008 at 3:57 pm
Well they could modify the HW division to be like 206-250. Then more people would be able to fight in SHW. And then they could go get Hong Man Choi and throw up some real freak show matches! WHOO!

Actually I think it'd be a bad idea anyways because lowering that division too much would hurt the HW division too much. There aren't too many giant guys out there that can show technical skill and athleticism. Plus Dana White can do anything unless he sees money signs all over it.
tpark- September 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Yea that would be smart except they'd probably only have ONLY lesnar in that group. And beside no one wants to watch a super hw division, it be the same thing over and over. No excitement
tpark- September 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Yea that would be smart except they'd probably only have ONLY lesnar in that grop. And beside no one wants to watch a super hw division, it be the same thing over and over. No excitement
mmmiles- September 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm
To avoid this confusion, I say UFC form a Super HW belt. Let Couture put on a good 150lbs of muscle and he can Zanghief-piledrive Lesnar through the mat. It's what the WWE guys want to see anyway (well, maybe not precisely).

Oh yeah, and go Frank! Nog and Mir are both fantastic fighters, no matter who wins it should be a treat for the fans.
mmmiles- September 15, 2008 at 3:35 pm
To avoid this confusion, I say UFC form a Super HW belt. Let Couture put on a good 150lbs of muscle and he can Zanghief-piledrive Lesnar through the mat. It's what the WWE guys want to see anyway (well, maybe not precisely).
Old, Bald and Irish- September 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm
Mir rules. I love this guy (*sound of me nuthugging*).

He's an awesome commentator on WEC and seems like a really cool guy...
...not to mention, a true expert in jiu jitsu.

I can't honestly guess the winner of the Mir v Nogueira fight. It's a toss up. I'd give Nogueira the edge, but you can't count Mir out.