A couple of months ago, Mir was still on the long road to his redemption, training for a fight against Cain Velasquez, when rumors of a shake-up in the UFC 146 fight card began to surface. The word was, Alistair Overeem was out, and the UFC was looking at Mir as his replacement in the UFC 146 Heavyweight Championship fight against Junior dos Santos. Within days, the suspense was over. Mir was in. He would have another shot at the belt.
It was a stunning turn of events, but one Mir had earned by virtue of three straight dominating victories against the likes of top contenders Mirko Filipovic, Roy Nelson, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. In that last fight, the relentless Nogueira refused to submit to a kimura, and Mir responded by snapping Nogueira's upper arm. It was the Submission of the Night. Later, UFC President Dana White would call it the "submission of the century" at the post fight press conference.
Today, that brutal submission of Nogueira, dos Santos' mentor and coach, must be weighing heavily on the current champion. If there is a niche in dos Santos' armor, it's in his wrestling, and in his composure on the ground, a place the skilled striker has rarely been in his UFC career. It is this niche Mir hopes to take advantage of in the UFC 146 featured event on Saturday night, May 26th in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
So the stage is set. With only a few days to go before the big fight, ProSource checked in briefly with the former and perhaps future UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir to ask him a few questions about his training, his expectations for the title bout, and his future:
Frank Mir: I think the biggest difference is pressure. Velasquez is a come forward, grinding, pressuring type of fighter, whereas Dos Santos is very much of an elusive striker who likes to make you miss and punish you with speed. I would be doing more defending shots with Velasquez, just because I know he would be comfortable on top, even if I was going for submissions on the bottom. Being a wrestler, that's his comfort zone, whereas Dos Santos … I really don't think he's going to shoot in on me too much, I'll probably be trying to take him down, but I was still looking to get takedowns on Velasquez also.
ProSource: What do you feel is dos Santos' greatest strength as a fighter?
Frank Mir: His confidence. He's never been really rocked on his feet or stunned right now, so he has a lot of confidence going in. I think that we have yet to see what is going to happen when he gets under duress, when he has a hard fight in front of him where he's not in the lead. The only fight that I've seen him get into trouble was in Brazil and it was his one loss. He got caught in a so-so arm-bar and he was pretty quick to tap.
ProSource: Where do you feel that you might have a tactical advantage over him?
Frank Mir: On the ground. Dos Santos puts a lot of time and effort on his feet. So I think we both have good tricks there, but on the ground I think I'm a little trickier.
ProSource: Your conditioning has looked superb in your last three fights. What were your top training goals going into this fight? Are you doing more cardio to prepare for a five-round fight?
Frank Mir: I've always worked on anaerobic cardio. Everybody always tells fighters that they have to sprint and do all of these things. I've never worked on aerobic cardio, and that's one thing that I've actually done a lot of for this fight. Building up a base where I can keep up a consistent pace. You know, a decent heart rate of 130, 135 for 35 to 45 minutes. It doesn't seem that's what helps people in fights, but that's one area of cardio that I've increased drastically. I think that's a platform that I didn't have before and think that's why sometimes, if you only focus on the anaerobic cardio, if you don't peak at the right time, it kind of throws you off. But if you have a strong aerobic base already, you can kind of be a little bit off your peak, and it still gives you a good foundation to build off.
ProSource: Are supplements a big part of your training regimen and diet?
Frank Mir: Huge! XY-PRO protein shakes are important to me. If I have time to sit down and eat a meal and have plenty of time for it to digest before I have to go to the gym, I do. I think it's hard to replace mother nature, you know. But when you don't have that time, when you have time restraints, the next best thing is XY-PRO protein powder and supplements. And I feel that you can get a lot of the nutrients and get a good composition of fat to carbohydrates to protein ratio and not be so sunken down where you don't want to train. In the past, you know, I've been fat in fights and that's just because when you have 2 hours to make it to the next appointment in the gym, if you don't have food with you, the easiest thing to do is stop by and get a Happy Meal and grab a burger, whereas now with XY-PRO Protein shakes, I can keep them in my gym bag and rip one open and drink it. They supplement my muscles and keep my nitrogen balance in a positive state, so I can go and continue to train, without that feeling of being weighed down. That's the one bad thing about food; it has to be broken down that much more. Of course with protein powder, the advantage is it breaks down easier because it's already in a simple form.
Besides whey protein, probably most of the things I do are energy drinks, but I just started the new Xyience Pre-workout (NOX-CG3 XTREME) and my muscle stamina and power has increased drastically. I drink a lot of coffee and the Xyience (Xenergy) drinks. Sometimes when it's real hot outside, I don't mind coffee first thing in the morning, that's my go-to drink, with brown sugar and I grind it up. But then throughout the day, I'm always grabbing Xenergy drinks because they're cold and refreshing and still give me enough zip to keep me going.
ProSource: A ringing endorsement! But tell us this. Now that ProSource sells all the top Xyience products, will you be shopping here or are they giving you all yours at a special deal?
Frank Mir: Well, I will still get my Xyience supplements from them, but, I will suggest to everyone to shop at ProSource because their pricing is the lowest out there, the service is great, and they have a HUGE selection.
ProSource: Okay, one last question. You've had a long and storied career in the UFC Heavyweight Division. Your 14 wins and 8 wins by submission are both records for a UFC Heavyweight. Is there a temptation to go out on top if you win back the Heavyweight belt? Or do you feel that you still have a certain number of fights left in you?
Frank Mir: You know what, honestly, I've repeated it to myself a thousand times; it's really becoming more about my children. You know, I miss baseball practices, I miss soccer practice, I miss plays, because of my career on the mat. There are times when I am just so fatigued and I'm sitting there on the couch and the wife says "Hey, Kage has a baseball game at 5." I've got to be at the gym at 6. The idea of going an hour early and sitting out by the field, I'm just sometimes so exhausted, and it really makes me mad as a father to think that I'm missing those things. And there are times that I man-up and just do it, but then sometimes my training suffers. If the training suffers and I don't win the fight, financially my children suffer, so then I'm really in that conundrum of what's more important; taking care of my kids financially or being there as a parental figure. Spreading yourself thin is sometimes difficult, so right now, you know, as long as it doesn't keep getting in the way of my children and I'm able to do an alright job of balancing, I'm okay. But when that stops, I'll flip out and retire that hour.
ProSource: Good luck, Frank, and thanks for sharing with our readers.
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