On the eve of November 2nd, 2001, Frank Mir made his UFC debut against Roberto Traven at UFC 34: High Voltage. He was strictly a BJJ fighter then, and he was the first fight of the night. He won by armbar 1:05 into the first round. The very next fight featured Matt Lindland vs. Phil Baroni. Two fighters who now, in 2010, fight just like they did back in 2001. It's too often we see fighters come into the sport, and over the years, never evolve. Too often we see young talent join the ranks of professional fighters and due to life issues, lack of interest, or injury, they fizzle out. There is a laundry list of very understandable excuses for a fighter not realizing their potential, take a look at Mark Kerr. Anyone who's ever watched "The Smashing Machine" knows what he went through, although much damage was self inflicted, it was a shame he never progressed into what could have been. Yet, this isn't about the multitude of fighters that don't "make it", this is about a fighter who did.
On September 17th, 2004, Frank Mir was in a severe motorcycle accident. His femur was broken in two places, all the ligaments in his knee torn. This was a life changing accident, and for the current Heavyweight champion, it was devastating. He was eventually stripped of his title and had to start back where he started. For this, I must give Mir his credit. Many men would have stopped, would have found another career, and moved on. Frank Mir would not be denied, but his road back wouldn't be a pleasant one.
He went 1-2 in his next three fights, losing to Marcio Cruz and Brandon Vera. Frank had looked out of shape, and lack luster, this is, until he fought Antoni Hardonk at UFC 74. He looked crisp, and won by kimura in the first round. That was his legendary "I'm back!!!" fight, where he yelled and put his face up to the camera after his victory. He went on to defeat Brock Lesnar, and after coaching season 8 of "The Ultimate Fighter", became the first man to ever knock out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. At this point, his kick boxing was beginning to look excellent compared to the man he was back when he had returned to the octagon.
Mir went on to fight Brock Lesnar again, and this time, Brock had the answer to controlling Mir on the ground. It was a devastating loss for Mir, but he was seemingly able to hurt Lesnar while standing. He came back to fight Cheick Kongo at UFC 107, in one of the most impressive performances of his career. Kongo, one of the best kick boxers in the division, was beaten to the punch, and choked unconscious in the first round. Now, Frank Mir is facing Shane Carwin, who is similar to Brock in stature and background. Will Frank show us continued evolution? I believe he will win, and I believe he can do so impressively.
This may sound to many like I'm posting a history lesson, but Frank Mir's story is truly great. Not only has he recovered from serious injury and repeated defeats, he has shown the will to evolve his game, which is something that many of his original peers failed to do over the years. It's well known that I dislike Frank Mir, but I applaud him for his comeback, and his continued evolution. Not to mention, the man has really learned how to sell a fight.