Frank Mir has a great history as a UFC fighter. He holds the record for most submission victories by a heavyweight and was the first man ever to knock out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He is still the only man to ever submit Nogueira. Mir is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion. His legacy in the UFC is assured. However, Mir’s performance on August 31, at UFC 164, showed that his best days are behind him as he suffered his third straight loss, this time a first-round TKO by Josh Barnett.
Mir met Barnett in the center of the cage and they both started aggressively, but Barnett was quickly able to get Mir up against the cage. Barnett used some excellent clinch work to land a devastating knee that dropped Mir and prompted the referee to end the fight. Many say that the fight was stopped to soon, but Mir was in a terrible situation either way. Barnett use of the cage to pin Mir was very similar to what two of Mir’s previous opponents, Daniel Cormier and Shane Carwin, had to Mir. All of those fights ended in losses for Mir.
Mir is a big, strong guy who is competent in the striking aspect and fantastic on the ground. What Mir is not is a great athlete. He moves very slowly on his feet. He was slow on his feet even in his knockout victory over Nogueira, who looked even slower than Mir that night. Mir’s lack of quickness on his feet has allowed his last three opponents to fight the fight that they wanted and that led to dominant victories by all three.
Today’s MMA fighters are not just skilled technicians, they are great athletes. Look at the champions of every division in the UFC and the athletic ability of each. Cain Velasquez wrestled for Arizona State and is known for having incredible endurance. Jon Jones has pulled off some of the most incredible moves ever seen in the cage (like his suplex of Stephan Bonnar) and has two brothers in the NFL. George St. Pierre might have the rawest athletic ability of anyone in the UFC. These guys are all skilled fighters who train hard, just like Mir, but each has that third dimension of superior athletic ability that Mir lacks.
Mir has a place in the UFC Hall of Fame waiting for him whenever he decides to retire. He is a former two-time heavyweight champion with impressive wins over some of the best names in the history of the sport. However, his time at the top is finished. He is not just losing, he is being dominated. It might be time for Mir to take a long look at himself and his recent history in the cage and walk away from the sport.