Frank Mir weighs-in for UFC 48: Payback. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Winning the UFC heavyweight title is one thing. Working your way back from a near career-ending motorcycle accident is certainly another. After an over three-year nightmare where he almost lost everything he had worked for in his career, the feeling has returned to Mir. The physical and mental feeling of being back to his old self that is.
The former champion now approaches what just might be his biggest and most crucial fight yet when he takes on one-time WWE superstar and former standout collegiate wrestler Brock Lesnar at UFC 81: Breaking Point, which will take place tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
“I remember sitting at the intersection and thinking that this car wasn’t going to go during a yellow light,” Mir said when asked to recall the accident during a recent interview session with MMA on Tap. “It had stopped all of the sudden. So I went ahead and unfortunately the car did too. I remember hitting my head on the pavement and then rolling onto a patch of grass. All I knew was that my head hurt and that I couldn’t feel my leg. I told the EMT’s that I thought I could get up and walk but then they told me the extent of the damage.”
After strenuous rehab and years of waiting, Mir finally returned to action against fellow jiu-jitsu expert Marcio Cruz. Unfortunately for Mir, the outcome wasn’t what he expected. Fights against Dan Christison and Brandon Vera followed. Mir split the pair of fights but still wasn’t the same. The feeling of old finally came back when Mir submitted heavyweight striker Antoni Hardonk at UFC 74 this past August.
“For a while, the desire wasn’t there anymore,” said Mir. “For some reason, I just wasn’t into fighting. Then I found my love for the sport again. I realized why I got into mixed martial arts in the first place and my drive and determination returned. The Hardonk fight was the first time where I finally felt 100%. I’m healthy and I’m able to perform without restrictions and it feels great.”
When thinking about a professional wrestler entering the realm of mixed martial arts, one usually naturally laughs or discredits the notion. That’s not the case for Lesnar. His brute strength and explosive wrestling skills were on display this past summer where he pounded his way to a win over Min Soo Kim at K-1’s debut in the United States. Despite Mir possibly being an underdog going into this fight, his confidence remains unshaken.
“He’s a sound, strong wrestler,” Mir said. “Just because he’s worked as a pro wrestler doesn’t mean that I can’t take him seriously. Lesnar was a phenomenal college wrestler, he won the NCAA Championships. However if resorts back to his wrestling instincts, he’s probably going to find himself in a bad way. He doesn’t want to leave an opening against me because I’ll take advantage and take his arm off. I want to punish him for even thinking that he’s the next big thing in the UFC.”
Can the one-time “Next Big Thing” live up to his moniker or will the former heavyweight champion continue his quest to regain the belt that was once his? It’s going to be interesting to find out, that’s for sure.