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Frank Mir Knows Jiu Jitsu Is Key Against Mark Hunt

“I’m going to stand with Mark for as long as I can, and then I’ll set up takedowns.”
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Frank Mir's face was beamed worldwide today as part of a Q and A for UFC in the lead-up to his main event bout against Mark 'The Super Samoan' Hunt in Brisbane this weekend.

The Reebok cap on Mir's head declared its occupant as a 'World Champion' and although the jiu jitsu black belt doesn't currently hold that kind of silverware, it's a reminder of his great past in the Octagon.

It was the submission skills of 24-year-old Mir that separated him from the pack and eventually won him the heavyweight title with a gruesome armbar on Tim Sylvia in 2004. A career-threatening motorcycle injury sidelined Mir for a long time, but he remained in the heavyweight title conversation right up until 2012 when a loss to Junior Dos Santos in title fight began a stretch of four losses for him.


Just when we were counting him out, Mir banked two back-to-back first round knockout victories over Antonio 'Big Foot' Silva and Todd Duffee. A new sophistication in the boxing realm is a hallmark of the latest version of Mir, who turns 37 in May. Although his hand wasn't raised against Andrei Arlovski when they clashed in September, some media members scored the fight for Mir, who didn't look out of place trading shots with the Belarusian kickboxer.

Regardless of his developed skillset in the striking department, Mir has no grand illusions heading into his bout with kickboxing legend and iron-chinned Kiwi, Hunt.

The K-1 Grand Prix champion had a renaissance in his own MMA career after demanding that he fight out his contract with UFC, despite the promotion's desire to pay his contract out when he came in as a part of the Pride deal. His explosive hands have brought the most resilient of challenges to a close, with even the famously durable Roy 'Big Country' Nelson falling to his blows when they fought in Japan in September 2014.

Hunt's storied career has been built on his ability to knock his opponents into oblivion. A great number of fans will tune into this weekend's broadcast in the hopes of seeing another chilling KO from Hunt, but Mir has no intention of hanging around in the striking exchanges for too long.

Mir's insistence that a technique from the gentle art will bring a conclusion to his bout with Hunt was noted as soon as a fan asked him what he believed the most effective mixed-martial-arts technique is.


He smiled from under his hat and said: "Chokes are the best, the most definitive, you know? The rear naked (choke), it's kind of hard to get at this level because the guys are so good, but when you get it, it's game over."

There was no hesitation from the former heavyweight champion when he was asked about his chances of finishing Hunt. Mir knows that trying to knock Hunt out could prove to be his downfall.

"I'm going to work on finishing Mark Hunt, but he's very hard to hold down. I feel like that's the best opportunity for victory for me. I think it would be much easier to submit Mark Hunt than to knock him out. The guy has a pretty good chin, he's not the easiest of guys to put away."

Almost clarifying the initial point, Mir insisted that he has no intentions of spending too long standing in front of the great knockout artist:

"I'm going to stand with Mark for as long as I can, and then I'll set up takedowns."

He added: "I feel I have a huge advantage on the ground over Mark and I feel on the feet Mark is really dangerous. Me being put away on the ground is probably a lot less likely than me eating a punch by him, but I think that's one of those things that we both know.

"Everyone knows that I want to get this fight to the ground and everyone knows that he wants to avoid it. It's going to be about strategy going back and forth to see who can do it."

While a lot of casual fans still struggle to respect the grappling aspect of the sport, Mir's aggression in the ground exchanges over the years have resulted in some of the most spectacular stoppages in the history of the UFC. As previously cited, Mir's armbar submission of Tim Sylvia is one of the most replayed highlight reel moments that has taken place in the Octagon.

Similarly, when he faced Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in a meeting of jiu jitsu legends, his transitional brilliance in setting up a clinical kimura that fractured the arm of 'Minotauro' was lined with all the graceful devastation you would expect from a man half Mir's size.

The winner of the Brisbane contest will undoubtedly be the fighter who manages to get the bout to be contested on his own terms. Whether it be Hunt in the striking realm of Mir with his grappling, we are definitely going to see two of the heavyweight divisions most tried and tested specialists duke it out this weekend.