Bellator 198 Frank Mir Fightlete Report Interview
Sean Lennon: We got a special guest Frank Mir former UFC two time heavyweight champion talk to me about his upcoming fight against Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 198. Now you’re in Bellator, have they welcomed you with open arms, it seems like at this point?
Frank Mir: “Oh yes. You know what it is very reminiscent of who I was when I first started with the UFC. as far as a small group of people that are passionate about the sport, you know. You could learn who everybody is within a couple of days, whereas, you know towards the end UFC obviously got very big you know and that’s for some people, it’s not really my cup of tea and so I’m actually extremely happy with where I am at.”
Sean Lennon: So it wasn’t financial per say, this was based on, you know, you didn’t like the direction the company was going, you had to leave with the change.
Frank Mir: “Yes, you know what, it was just…there was a corporate takeover you know once it was sold, so it was definitely an influence. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have left if you know, Lorenzo still was the owner, but once that was through then it became just, you know different you know, in the fight world you know it’s kind of hard to work with people that aren’t fighters and Scott being a former martial artist last long time himself. He really was known as somebody even before I met him, his reputation is somebody that was very much about the fighter perceiving him and that made him to where I wanted to work for somebody on that level because you know, I mean look we…do we get paid very well? Yes my life is good, I make good living but at the same time you still given up a piece of yourself when you walk in there and to work with somebody that you….to go with somebody that looks at you as a pure commodity, you know that’s a hard pill to swallow at the end of the day, and so to work with people that appreciate you and look at you as a martial artist is somebody who is you know showcasing and giving a glimpse into the life of something that they take very special and allowing other people to partake in part of it, you know, just makes it more secret.”
Sean Lennon: Excellent and talk about the opportunity, The Heavyweight Grand Prix, you’ve never been on a tournament like this before and what are you anticipating this time.
Frank Mir: “Yes, you know it’s definitely well you know, I’m not going to lie I think coming off a little bit of break you know two years. I was thinking of taking a bit of an easier fight, you know, knock some of the ring rust off, but you know I got the call that they’re going to do the heavyweight tournament and Fedor was in it. It made utmost sense for me to try to face him first. I keep making jokes, you know that it would be nice if this is a Hollywood script and he was on the other end of the bracket and we can work our way through to each other and this was for the title and the finals, but they got six other guys in there that just, they weren’t cooperating, you know six other guys that are very dangerous and very capable fighters and you know everybody knows in MMA. you know you can have guys fight one hundred times and have one hundred different outcomes, right.”
Sean Lennon: When you hear Fedor Emelianenko, that’s your opponent, what comes to mind?
Frank Mir: “Well, I think Fedor is a very talented athlete and very mentally strong you know, obviously as he has gotten older, maybe his athleticism is not kept up with him as much which I think you know is normal. The guy will be, you know he’s almost forty-two years of age, but he’s still you know a very good athlete, very explosive and you can see him you know, hitting pads, spawn, he’s still you know, still has that athletic ability but his mental toughness is where it’s always been you know. He had a fight you know overseas and people very critical about…you know he fought a very good Brazilian who is a good boxer in Moldonado and people were like, oh you know in fact, you know he first won the decision and then he went back and they reversed it, made it, I think a no contest or a draw you know because he really took a beating in that first round and then you know barely survived in a lot of people’s opinion, seeing he’s a shell of his former self. And I’m watching the video and I’m like man you guys aren’t seeing what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a guy that already made I think two million dollars from that fight. He was already paid he got knocked down, he got back up and he decided to go and fight back against a guy who was hurting him for twelve more minutes. That says something about your character that he still has that grip, that yes we get paid to fight, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t about paycheck that was about his pride and he still possesses that.”
Sean Lennon: Sure and Fedor…he was someone that you were critical of his success about ten years ago, does that change your perspective since then, you kind of said you know the guy got lucky in certain positions and what not.
Frank Mir: “Well no, I never think that he got lucky. I think that there are certain things that worked out in his favor. I think that if you don’t have a super strong wrestling background…I think fighting in a boxing ring is to your advantage because a cage really brings out whoever the best wrestlers are and if you can look at it in Bellator you know Michael Channels, the guys’ wrestling foundations is phenomenal. Roy McDonald his wrestling foundation is phenomenal. You go over to the UFC Daniel Cormier, John Jones pretty much up and down the list everybody besides Conor who holds a strap in any division anywhere in the world has extremely strong wrestling background if they work in a cage because a cage is unforgiving. Where in a boxing ring, yes if you shove me against the boxing ring it works better for strikers, make a pro-cop types you know Fedor, who can lean back create room for his punches and then guys with no submissions here, you do great at your jitsu. Mind you jitsu works phenomenal in a boxing ring because you can’t shove my head into a cage. Now I can switch my hips all different directions if you take me down, it’s a submission game the minute we hit the mat. If we’re in a cage and we get the mat I have to make sure I’m far away from the cage. I mean, sure anybody who watches even you know passively MMA sports they realized that being someone’s guard where you have your head shove against a cage it is the worst place to be. It actually for the guy on top is a pretty good spot now if all of a sudden you put me in the center of the mat you better be…hope your insurance is paid up or might take it all off.”
Sean Lennon: And you had time to enjoy with your family you know when you’re on the USADA suspension, but how hard was it for you to watch the UFC heavyweight division continue without you and just fighting, in general, continue without you.
Frank Mir: “Well, I mean living the lifestyle of a fighter is pretty much who I am and the suspension hit me really hard for the reason being that I’m not training, not going to the gym every day and I should have even though I was basically, you know on time out and I think everybody can see. I mean at the beginning of January, the first of the year I was tipping the scale over three hundred pounds and that was just because inactivity, you know something that I had loved, I was bitter about and so it took me you know, took this fight to know, oh I’m fighting Fedor but actually was very much you know in a lot of senses is it a tough first fight back yes but it was probably really a lifesaver in a sense that had they given me some other guy, some other tough heavyweight young kid, I don’t know if I would have rose to the occasion. Getting me off the couch after two years off going…what are you going to fight this up and coming guy. Oh, okay, you probably see me getting on the scale a little heavier than I should be and your like, wow you can see where Mir’s mindset is, you know. Whereas with Fedor the minute they told me, I mean, I started camp as soon as the new year [laugh], you know. I tried to start on the Monday, but it was the first of the year, trying to find people to come train with you at the gym on New Year’s Eve morning it’s a little rough [laugh]. You’d be surprised how many people go out on the thirty-first.”
Sean Lennon: Frank so when signing with Bellator was there any apprehensions you’ve been with UFC since your third professional fight back in 2001 and you’re the longest tenure fighter there. Was it hard to sever your longstanding ties?
Frank Mir: “Well, because the ties were already going to sever for me I really didn’t make that decision. I’m still yet to have a sit down in the same room with the new owners. Even during the time they purchase it over UFC two hundred, I found out like everybody else and you know and I think that not only would…they came in and they kind of clean shop. I think they fired about twenty percent of the people right off the bat you know in production and you know back office and the thing is when you fight for a company for sixteen years those aren’t just people I work with, those are my friends you know we’re meeting at bars afterwards, we’re having conversation. These are people that have been to my home, they’ve been around my children and all of a sudden now they’re being let go, you know. I’m just feeling oh well you know we can do your job for cheaper, we’ll have this guy do it and so that was definitely an incentive for me to go, wow this just isn’t the same people. I’m used to the Fertitta’s who are much more family, mom and pop type mindset oriented and so…The only other thing I saw too was like well you know I probably will be an ambassador you know when’s it’s all said and done and then all of a sudden people that you know who are much more probably deserving of that Island are chuck with doubt as an ambassador you know Matt Hughes and now they’re getting cut, they were getting let go. I’m like wow if they’re going to cut those guys, what if I don’t have that kind of job waiting for me at the end of this I’d better start making my own money.”
Sean Lennon: You still talk to Dana White?
Frank Mir: “No!.”
Sean Lennon: What’s change in terms of training I know you train with Angelo Reyes for boxing, Robert Drysdale for BJJ and you train at his gym and of course at the Mayweather Gym with Angelo Reyes. You’re always evolving at your age let’s talk about that.
Frank Mir: “Well, I think that just keeps it interesting, I think you know become like lifting weights I think everybody you know that’s why the weight magazines sell the way they do. Everybody wants to look for new workouts, you’re still working out, but you want something a little different and you know it’s not completely reinventing the wheel but it reinspires. So anytime I’m breaking down technique, I love martial arts, in fact, it was funny my wife and I just had this conversation, we were just flying back from a media tour in L.A. the flight was delayed like an hour and a half. She was sitting at the bar or you know, kind of restaurant right there at the terminal and there is fights, playing over my wife’s shoulder and I’m talking to her and I’m looking over and she goes, Do you ever get enough? I’m like she goes you just completely…the conversation I mean I could be doing basically anything and my wife, you could read between the lines, I could be doing anything and if you bring up fighting my mindset goes there and I start talking about fighting and so you know ever evolving and training is just something that’s always been part of me. Now, my kids, you know my daughter who’s fourteen I try to steer her you know she… they’re all in private school I want them you know to play sports, they like sports I think sports is very important for all children to do. It teaches them how to deal with adversity in all different qualities of life. To be a professional athlete I didn’t want for my kids, but they’re all pushing that direction and my daughter’s trailblazing and so she finally kind of sat me down about a year ago and let me know that yes…I thought maybe my job would be resigned to just commentary outside of the cage when it’s all said and done but right now I’m working with the ACB opportunities maybe in the future or for Bellator you know I get called fights with my partner Brian Lacy. I do the podcast with Richard Hunter, we get to talk about fights, phone booth fighting. So I mean I’m very much involved and now I think I’ll be cornering my daughter.”
Sean Lennon: Oh wow
Frank Mir: “Yes, hopefully I can get my sons to just stay interesting in football and baseball or I’ve got to corner them too so [laugh] all night.”
Sean Lennon: So she’s looking to fight in her future.
Frank Mir: “Yes, very much so I mean she did…she started wrestling about two years ago always involved in jitsu and stand up stuff, trains with Anna and Angelo in kickboxing and boxing. we just entered her with the girls Nevada state tournaments high school, she’s in eighth grade now the girls made it past the first period everybody else was in high school she’s an eighth grader so she penned the seniors, the juniors, the sophomores.”
Sean Lennon: Women’s MMA has blown up…
Frank Mir: “Yes you know it’s funny…is for good off the bat. I mean the whole world becomes much more involved in mix martial art and right now is such a good thing because I’m very happy about it because you have such a movement of women empowerment and I think that sometimes you can be Mr. Right. I think to be excessive obviously you have people we can point to that are not into looking at the equality of the sexes but more or less just you know the destruction of male side of it and that turns people off but I’m very much into women, you know be able to control there own destiny and not being the weaker of the two sexes but we’re just we’re different and we have different things to bring to the table and the world of MMA really right now is kind of juxtaposition of just those worlds coming together were you still see the sexism of a girl on the outside of a cage walking around with a card right and that’s pure old school forty’s madman type. She’s wearing a bikini showing off her butt like she walks around holding up a…to let us know what round it is you know what I mean like we don’t [laugh]. It’s purely sexualized one hundred percent, but then all of a sudden now you still have you have this girl that can walk in there and she’s fighting another woman who trains hard ties her hair back, yes she’ll maybe put on some make-up and a dress after when it’s all said and done, but when it’s time to get down she pulls her hair back, it’s time to get gritty and she’s you know take no trash from anybody you know. So you get to see the evolution of the old thought process now, these modern female warriors who I think are some of the greatest role models these young girls could have.”
Sean Lennon: Yes you get both sides of the spectrum that’s a really good take on it.
Evan McLean: Talk a little bit about the podcast, Phone Booth Fighting while we’re on the subject.
Frank Mir: “Well it’s something that I…obvious I like to conversate and conversation guy, I like to break things down and I’m not really great at sitting on Twitter and open up conversations because you notice when you get people who just, you know this trend of just trolling just to say something just to get a reaction because that’s…it’s very much of a low intelligence type mindset would say well I can’t think of something inspirational or clever a thought-provoking to say. So I’ll say something that is provoking just for, you know offensive and then I’ll bait you into something that I don’t even believe in myself but it’s going to be you know Ah, ah I got you in some way you know and so I’m very much in wanting to have conversations with people so that being said, you know we’re talking to guys having conversation in a way and so Richard Hunter is a friend of mine and all the time it kind of started out with he’s very politically much more involved than I am and much more knowledgable and I always try to surround myself with people that obviously in different aspects of life are much more equipped than I am. So I can go to them and go, hey what about this, what about that, kind of pick your brain, can you point me in the right direction and so he was like, you know we should probably tape this stuff you know we sit there and we’ll be bouncing things back and forth about each other you know he’s a journalist and sure enough you know then we start taping it and releasing it and just doing the podcast outside that’s where phone fighting really started up.”
Sean Lennon: Yes, don’t sell yourself, short man. I mean, obviously, you can wax poetically on the sport with all the experience you’ve had again, you can subscribe to that on iTunes with Frank and Richard Hunter.
Evan McLean: Frank, you open up a brand new gym in June how excited are you for that?
Frank Mir: “Extremely you know I mean I was raised in a gym my father, that’s what…we got the school sports and at the end of the day you know I did my homework on his desk in the office and then we go out there and train and so growing up in that atmosphere I always thought it was a good direction you know and that’s the thing I think a lot of people may have oh what do we do about the youths. It’s like, well you know we have such a high divorce rate, you have so many kids going home to empty houses. People looking for identities and if you don’t give your child an identity, they’re going to find one and now it’s a coin toss hopefully they find one that is not destructive and I think martial arts is a phenomenal identity for a person to have because you can’t live an unclean life, you can’t be a person of weak character and be a proficient fighter at the same time, it’s difficult. Are there those few individuals out there that maybe could pull it off? Yes, there’s always those who wonder athletes that you know they don’t have to live a great life and they can just get off the couch and just perform, but for the most part the rest of the world we have to if you want to be efficient something and good at it you have to make sacrifices and put the work in. I think martial arts is a great you know great way to live a life so Camboroo is a fight company that is own by David Higgie a guy over there in England, Northside and we got together and Camboroo meant…it’s a Japanese word you know to stand up in the face of adversity and it was very much so that inspired me like wow that’s awesome. That is really what it means to be a human nowadays just to stand up and face adversity you know when things aren’t going so well dig your heels in and find a way not to move backwards but yes might not move forward but sideways and outwards in an angle you know I’m going to figure out some way up, through this you know and so…now opening up gyms with a partner of mine and now hopefully be able to put a more of a structure within MMA you know so many guys still you know we see it in our fighters now where they train Brazilians to jitsu and they train kicking boxing, muay thai boxing over the years and they put it together and now you see that this guy is out there that start right off the bat with MMA can be on a professional level and I don’t want MMA to get to the point where only people feel that well if I’m never going to fight why would I train. I’m like that’s one percent of one percent that would be like saying that well if I’m never going to play major league baseball I probably shouldn’t put my kid in it. Well no baseball is a fun sport, first and foremost and then it teaches you all these life skill, standing up to the plate, dealing with pressure then on defense how do you work with a team and communicate with each other, like there’s you know sports are character building and life lessons evovles and martial arts is the same avenue, but MMA I think not because people see so much as you know, oh we’re fighting it’s like no you can be a nine to five guy get off work go to the gym train with other nine to five guys learn martial arts, learn more about yourself and that’s really going to be the format of my gym. I’m not really trying to hunt down the next Bellator champion, next ACB, UFC I’m more or less like hey you got to go home to your wife and if you get a broken nose, she’ll be mad at you right yeah alright well just put on some headgears and you’re going to train but obviously we know that we don’t have to…you got to go to work tomorrow. I’m like we’re here to have fun, learn something to be a better person by the time…”
Evan McLean: Add a little structure to your life.
Evan McLean: It’s like you touch on…especially at the youth level. You got to add that earlier on you can’t stress that enough, you know we bump back with you’re talking about you were infidel compared to what you know now, you know that interview was earlier this year now, but talking about the color commentary what has been your approach, what did you thought like were your weakness to start, talk about your growth as a color commentator.
Frank Mir: “Well, I mean my weakness surprise are still my weakness and that’s why I really work with Brian Lacey extremely well. That dude is like a walking encyclopedia. We can go anywhere in the world and you’ll bring up a fight of some guy that fought last week in South Africa and he’ll tell you his record, what gym he trains at and who his coach is. He’s that guy you know he’s just…he’s a fight nerd in that sense. There is times after the fight that I had fighters walk up to me, hey what you think about my fight? I’m looking at them like you fought tonight? Like I just…my memory for that type of stuff doesn’t work but my brain for the techniques that are actually occurring inside the cage, I’ve for whatever reason my brain just I’m a technician so you sit there and go oh he’s not puting his hand here, look oh his tump drop two inches to the left that’s why the grip is breaking, oh he’s setting this up, you see the look in his eyes here that’s what he’s doing and I can watch and read and you know involve myself much more in the moment of what’s going on and so between the two of us I think we have a pretty complete show.”
Sean Lennon: When it’s all said and done will there ever be a time when you feel like you’ve had enough of the sport of MMA and you’re going to be a trainer, how would you embrace that at that point?
Frank Mir: “I think that just…you know obviously you always want you know, you set the bar up in any endeavor in life that you do and then when it’s time to turn it over to the next generation, well I’m kind of fighting with the next generation I think some the next generation are little tired and I’m still here [laugh], but you know teaching them the mistakes of what I did and I think that you know retirement really is going to come down to just injuries with me you know getting back in the cage there’s nobody who’s thirty-eight years old right now can tell me that they feel great every morning and when I get up I have to stretch like anything else you know and I get paid to have a healthy body so I have you know I’m over there in my Dolce’s gym doing rehab with Adrian. Ramirez train with him you know, every morning I got my training partner James Horn, he calls me up hey what are we doing today, what are we doing, so I have people that you know that are constantly helping me out to move forward to get…you know to be as healthy as possible but that still I’m fighting against the clock, I’m still mortal and you know and I’ve acquired my share of injuries from unintelligent approaches to fighting you know sit there and go well my ankle hurts, but I am going to show up anyways and just tape it up and then. Now it’s like, oh I was dumb you know, like what did I prove there, now I’m walking with a limp for the next couple of years that sucks. So you know as far as when I retired just to be when I can’t physically pretty much pull it off you know like you know like I said we all deal with injuries, we just have to start doing that measurement of like okay when enough is enough.”
Sean Lennon: Well, you’ve talked about we talked briefly about your time with the UFC and now it seems like it’s at a crossroads you see the big figure that Ronda Rousey was and Conor Mcgregor really on the downslide, what do you think of the longevity of the sport here where it’s going?
Frank Mir: “Well you know I never think you know and I know that some fans always get mad at me went I this. I don’t think we’re baseball, we’re not football, we’re not basketball these are mainstream sports that are accepted. Boxing has been around forever now, you know just longer than American football, but it’s still not an accepted. There’s still something in our culture about hitting another person in the face with a fist that still puts us in that niche sport type of area. Now we the most followed niche sport in the world? Absolutely, it’s huge fan base, but we’re still not, bring your grandma to the college football game no one would ever look at you funny, but a grandma, we’re going to go down see the alma mater we’re going to watch you know the Longhorns we are going to go play…okay like it’s a family day, pick a sandwich. You say we are going to the fight, it’s like okay wait a minute can little Johnny go is this kind of…you know what I mean, we’re still kind of not quite over there. So hopefully, you know, I mean we say growing to a certain point we’re at but I don’t think we’ll ever like I said surpass basketball, football, baseball you know soccer you know those sports are just much more international, much more accepted on that level.”
Sean Lennon: Outside of your weight class, is there a favorite weight class you like to keep tabs on?
Frank Mir: “Everybody pretty much lighter than one hundred and seventy pounds. I’m much more of a fan of those smaller guys. I think that they are much more technical, they move around better and I mean it’s straight to weight ratio and then you know…
Heart rate too you know the 02 max. I mean you don’t see anybody weighing 240 winning the Boston marathon it’s not going to happen. The human heart you know they’re certain traits that lend towards certain areas you know your 240 American football, yes there you go you know as far as you know set any world records you know in the 1600’s in atheltics it’s probably not going to happen. So when it comes to fighting and seeing more moves and guys able to reverse, move back and forth I think it’s entertaining, plus with the heavyweights there’s always that element of like well not always the best guy wins, because of the ability to knock each other out everybody pretty much in the top ten, top twenty has been knocked out in the first round at some point in their career. Stephen Michigan right now over the U.F.C is one of the top heavyweights in the world has defended the title got knocked out in one round by Stefan Struve like everybody has that on there, you know I’ve watched Stefan the guy is greatest chins in the world Roy Nelson. I’ve watched Mark Hunt get knocked out by a middleweight overseas, you know in a kickboxing match in fifteen seconds. So there’s that element to heavyweight fighting where it’s not always the best guy because everybody is so dangerous it’s almost like two lions. Well, the first guy to land a good shot might end up winning this whole thing. Whereas the smaller guys kind of like, you know Demetrius or Michael Chandler you know Rory Mcdonald again those guys you can see like okay it’s going to be a battle of nutrition. Rory Mcdonald’s last fight when he’s won the title it was a fight where rounds he wasn’t winning, but because it wasn’t a heavyweight fight some of those kicks he took to the leg if that had been a guy who weight two thirty it would have broke his leg in half. I mean you saw his fibia the swelling on the outside that was bad is opponent that night. Imagine the guy who would have weighed 240 pounds snap his leg in half, fight is over with he never gets to make a come but then all of a sudden the third round I think oh this fight is over with this is what welterweights bring to a fight, lighter guys like oh he’s done, he sits there finds a way to shove him against the cage grind it out, take him down bash him up and all of a sudden and you watching going…I remember being going man he pulled it off he’s going to come back and win this.”
Sean Lennon: That’s Awesome
Evan McLean: We got to leave it there Frank we know you’ve got a hectic day here at Chicago and remember the phone booth fighting check it out on I Tunes with Frank and Richard Hunter.