Frank Mir suffered a setback last night as he crashed out to an early KO defeat against Shane Carwin. It’s a major blow for the heavyweight star, but if anyone should be prepared for the highs and lows that come with being an MMA fighter it’s Mir as his career has undoubtedly been a roller-coaster ride up until this point.
The 30 year old first won the UFC heavyweight championship in 2004, but months later a serious motorcycle crash threatened his career and forced him to relinquish the belt while he battled back to full fitness.
After some lackluster performances on his return in 2006 he slowly began to find his form again, defeating Brock Lesnar and going on to win the interim heavyweight championship against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2008.
Again the belt would only be around his waist for a brief time though as he lost a rematch with Lesnar to unify the titles.
Despite this setback Mir turned the bitter disappointment of defeat into a positive as he threw himself into a new strength and conditioning program and packed on over 20lbs of muscle mass to his frame in order to compete with the natural giants in the division like Lesnar.
With new-found belief and focus Mir impressed in his comeback fight against Cheick Kongo as he knocked him down within the opening minute and quickly submitted him. With his stock on the rise again only last night’s opponent Shane Carwin stood in his way between another shot at the title and his nemesis Brock Lesnar.
The Carwin Fight
Unfortunately for Mir, despite his efforts to increase his size, on the night it quickly became apparent that Carwin was still too strong for him to handle.
Pressed up against the cage in the opening minutes of the first round Mir seemed unsure what to do and unable to escape his opponents clutches. Things went from bad to worse as he wilted under a serious of vicious uppercuts, followed by a barrage of strikes as he failed to regain his senses on the floor, causing the referee to call an end to the fight.
There was almost a feeling of deja vu about the way the fight played out, bringing back memories of similar unanswered punishment delivered by Lesnar in their two encounters, and other defeats in the more distant past.
Where Does He Go From Here?
So what’s next for Frank Mir after the latest set-back in his career?
Much depends on Mir himself. Does he have the fight left in him to bounce back yet again as he has done so often in his career?
Much of his most recent resurgence was fueled by both his belief that gaining mass would put him on a level footing with the biggest fighters in the division, and his obsession with fighting Lesnar for a third time.
Now the first part of that theory has been disproved by Carwin, and the second part seems unlikely in the near future, with Carwin and then Cain Velasquez now likely to fill Lesnar’s dance-card in 2010.
If Mir does still have a desire to get his career back on track then there is still other avenues for him to explore beyond just the size element.
Mir himself has admitted that wrestling is a weakness in his game as he prefers to perfect his ‘fight finishing’ skills such as striking and submissions. With a large number of the fighters in the upper reaches of the heavyweight division now relying heavily on their wrestling skills it’s clear that Mir has to improve his own skills in this area if he is to have a hope of avoiding being manhandled as we was by Carwin at UFC 111.
At the same time Mir would do well to re-connect with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. In recent times he has favored his strikes over his submissions, and though he has found some success it is his submission acumen that separates him from much of the rest of the competition in the division.
With Dana White confirming that Cain Velasquez will fight the winner of Carwin Vs Lesnar in the summer, Junior Dos Santos is now expected to get another fight under his belt while he waits for a title shot making him a possibility.
That’s a risky fight for the UFC at this stage though. If Mir loses then his days as a credible challenger in the upper echelons of the division may be over, while if Dos Dantos loses it derails the hype surrounding one of their brightest young heavyweight stars.
Therefore the man who lost to Dos Santos recently, Gabriel Gonzaga may be a more realistic alternative.
Another option may well be the winner of the Roy Nelson Vs Stefan Struve fight which takes place on Wednesday night at UFC Fight Night 21.
Lesnar is not the only fighter Mir has unfinished business with though. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been calling for a rematch between the two since his loss in their first encounter, and with both now out of the title picture this would seem like a good time to do this fight, and put one of them back on the winning path.
So can Mir make it back to the top once again? I certainly think he can be a presence in the upper-half of the division for some time to come, and with his record against Lesnar being 1-1 there is always still the potential for him to get the rubber match he craves depending on how results go.
Overall though I suspect his natural propensity to fold under duress will, more than anything else, continue to be a thorn in his flesh, and hold him back from making a sustained assault at the top of the division.
Article By RossC