Calm. That is the word I would use to describe Frank Mir inside the Octagon: calm. Perhaps that seems like a strange word choice for a 260 pound man who has, on more than one occasion, snapped another man's harm like a matchstick, but it is the truth. As a fighter, Frank Mir is calm.
At UFC 140, Mir showed that calmness in his victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dazed after a barrage of punches, Mir found himself on the mat trading submissions with his highly acclaimed submission master opponent. Mir stayed relaxed, fighting through the submission, reversing to his own kimura, and then sinking it in for the win and breaking Minotauro's arm in the process. Ben Thapa broke down the techniques Mir used to gain the submission:
Once that bump into side control is achieved, Mir has the correct angles to get Big Nog's arm into the right positions. He has his left hand pinning Nogueira's right wrist to the ground and his right hand snaking underneath Big Nog's upper arm and locked onto his own left wrist. This is the classic figure four double wristlock that judokas call the reverse ude garami and BJJ players the "kimura". The submission is essentially set now. Mir steps over the head - or at least tries to - and smashes his chest downwards as Nog looks like he knows exactly what is coming and wants no part of it.
From a technical standpoint, it was indeed impressive. But it wouldn't have worked if Mir had not kept his head focused, stayed ready for Nogueira, and fought through his tough spots.
In short, if he had not remained calm.
But for Frank Mir that calmness is a double-edged sword. When used properly, that attitude has propelled Mir to success. We saw it last night against Nogueira, and also against Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop - two other fights where Mir stayed focused and executed his gameplan to win with apparent ease.
Against Brock Lesnar (in the UFC 100 rematch) and Shane Carwin, that calm attitude yielded considerably different results. In both of those fights, Mir faced stronger, more aggressive fighters. Both men were able to get Mir in difficult positions, then bring down a series of blows to stop the fight. And in both instances, Mir remained calm... until it was too late. Trapped against the cage by Carwin, trapped beneath Lesnar's massive frame, Mir stayed relaxed. But as he did so, the blows quickly accumulated, and without even putting up a significant fight to escape the position, Frank Mir was done. In these fights, that calmness became almost complacency, and the fast, heavy hands of Lesnar and Carwin made Mir pay for his lapse.
Now, as Mir prepares to once again make a run at regaining the UFC Heavyweight title that he held years ago, this issue is likely to come up once again. Because the men above him in the UFC are all the same kind of explosive knock-out fighters that have used Mir's calm against him. Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem - these are powerful strikers who finish fights, and if they catch Mir, they will pour it on until he is done. As those heavy punches come at him, Mir will surely remain calm, maybe up until the point that he finds himself looking up at a referee waving the fight off.
Can Frank Mir fix this issue? It's likely he can. But will doing so also cost him the ability to focus his attack, grab an opponent's arm and do what he does best? That's a more difficult question. But if he wants that UFC Heavyweight title belt back around his waist, it's a question Frank Mir will need to answer.