Frank Mir's improvement beyond jiu-jitsu makes him a tough foe for Junior dos Santos in UFC 146 (Yahoo! Sports)


Frank Mir has had two stints as the UFC heavyweight champion and can make it a third Saturday if he manages to defeat Junior dos Santos at the MGM Grand Garden in the main event of UFC 146.

Mir is much better than the 22-year-old who made his UFC debut in 2001 at UFC 34. He's a versatile fighter who presents all sorts of matchup problems to his opponent and who can't be fairly cast simply as a jiu-jitsu fighter any more.

Mir's development from a jiu-jitsu fighter who didn't have much of a shot if a fight remained standing to a complete mixed martial artist who can win in any way is the blueprint Dan Hardy uses as he is rebuilding his career.

Hardy will meet Duane Ludwig on the preliminary card at UFC 146 in a three-round welterweight bout. He's coming off four consecutive losses and hasn't fought since being submitted by Chris Lytle in August in Lytle's retirement match.

Hardy is training in Las Vegas with Mir – as well as UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta – and is using Mir's progression as a motivating factor for him.

"I've been a fan ever since the UFC has been around, and seeing Frank from a fan's point of view and watching him achieve great things at a young age, was inspiring," Hardy said. "He won the belt and he's become a technically well-rounded guy. In the heavyweight division, guys tend to dominant in one area.

[Related: Frank Mir: 'Junior dos Santos has only a puncher's chance']

"Now, I'm in the gym with him and I see his work ethic and his hunger for knowledge, it's been quite inspirational. You get into the gym with a lot of guys and they become quite stagnant. They're quite resistant to adapt. They reach the top level and they don't feel they can be a student. They feel they've mastered it. Frank works diligently every day to improve and that's what I need at this stage. I need to be better tomorrow than I am today and I have to have an open mind to learn new things. Being around Frank has been great for me in that regard."

Hardy has lost four in a row, but it's not like he's lost four in a row to Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. He was beaten by welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, Anthony Johnson and Lytle.

Johnson couldn't even make middleweight in his last UFC fight and Lytle put everything he had into his retirement bout.

Hardy has done things the right way and turned down several opportunities to fight since the loss to Lytle because he wanted to work on improving his game.

He's eager to get back and show off what he's learned. He said he was a fan of Ludwig's from back in the days when Ludwig was starring in King of the Cage, but he's expecting to win a fun battle.

"He's been in there with the best of the best," Hardy said. "He's a tough fighter and he's had good performances. He always fights at a high pace and he's a very well-rounded kick boxer. He's great at every range and I know he's coming to fight.

"Personally, I think I beat him at every range, but it's something that only my coaches and myself believe at this point. I have to prove that to everyone else and I can wait to do so."

MMA MUSINGS
Daniel Cormier, the Strikeforce Grand Prix champion, would be a handful for any heavyweight in the world, with his wrestling skill and his punching power. I'm not saying he'll beat all of them at this point, but he's no walkover, even against the best. Temper your reaction, though, based on one thing: It had been a while since Josh Barnett had beaten an elite heavyweight. Sergei Kharitonov was past his prime when Barnett choked him out last year. It had been years before that since he'd beaten a high-level fighter in his prime. After watching Gilbert Melendez beat Josh Thomson on Saturday, I came to one inescapable conclusion: Benson Henderson is the world's top 155-pounder. That said, as many as eight guys are on the same level.
READERS ALWAYS WRITE

The 10-point must MUST go!

Like you, I watched the Gilbert Melendez-Josh Thomson fight for the Strikeforce lightweight title Saturday. What a travesty! I found it to be yet another illustration of why the 10-point must system is not fit for MMA scoring, nor was it ever meant to be. Rounds 1-3 were very tight and could have gone either way. However, in the championship rounds, 4 and 5, Thomson fought an inspired fight, and imposed his will on Melendez, putting him in bad positions, landing harder shots, and coming the closest to finishing the fight. Yet as his reward for beating up on Melendez in the championship rounds, he was handed a decision loss. I know it will be difficult to implement a new scoring system, but after watching this fight, I think it needs to happen. One thing I always liked about PRIDE was not necessarily its scoring system (aggression, control, damage, etc.), but how judges looked at the entirety of a fight before rendering a decision. In boxing, a boxer can lose the first three or four rounds and still come on to win. In that sport, a 10-point must system works. In MMA, it does not.
Matthew Burrell
Chicago

Thanks, Matthew. I felt Melendez won the fight 48-47 and I don't feel outraged. I would not be upset had Thomson won 48-47, and that is probably why I think that, while far from perfect, the 10-point must system works as well as anything for MMA. If you score the fight as a whole, what happens? The judges tend to remember what happened last, as it is freshest in their minds. And so, it could override the good work someone had done earlier in a fight. The runs scored in the first, second and third innings of a baseball game are just as important as the ones in the seventh, eighth and ninth. I wish we could come up with a system that would be fairer to all, but the biggest issue is that people see things differently. Plus, fans watching at home are greatly influenced by what the TV announcers are saying.

UFC fans don't care about DUIs

If you think the cementheads who watch the UFC give a rat's behind about a lousy DUI, you're as addle-brained as they are. They've all had at least one and are all candidates for another on the way home from the match.
Bob Domonkos

Congratulations, Bob. Mom must be so proud of you for your tolerance and understanding.

White's criticism of writers wrong, unfair

Kevin, you have nothing to explain regarding your article regarding the UFC on Fox 3 television ratings. While I understand that remaining in Dana White's good graces ensures better coverage of anything UFC-related, you shouldn't have to bend over backward to elaborate and defend your article's valid points. I like Dana, I think he's a tremendously passionate person, which is why he acts a certain way in situations that aren't aligned with his opinions. However, I felt [the way] he lashed out at Dave Meltzer and you (a little bit) was completely childish and immature for someone his age. While it's doubtful he will be apologetic for what he said, since he seems too firmly entrenched in his opinions too much to accept constructive criticism, I still hope he becomes a little more professional, at least when it comes to what's being in said public.

Also, I never gave Chan Sung Jung, "The Korean Zombie," a chance against Dustin Poirier, having always thought he's a one-dimensional brawler. He proved me wrong. What an awesome finish to a great battle, very worthy of the main event. Do you think it's too early for him to challenge for the title?
Kevin N.

Kevin, I thank you for your remarks. For your question about the Zombie, clearly he is ready and deserving to fight for the title. There's little else he could do to prove he's worthy. As for Dana, I made my points about his video rant. I agree with you that he is passionate and that's why he's successful. Once in a while, he runs off the rails, but for the most part, his passion has carried the UFC to its current heights.

Surcharge for Fuel is simply wrong

I live in Manhattan and I'm a Time Warner cable subscriber with all HD and several premium channels. I buy 80 percent of the UFC pay-per-views each year. I pay about $200 per month for cable plus about $500 per year on UFC PPV. On Tuesday, I turned on Fuel to watch the UFC fights as I have the other times. Today there is a message "offering" me the option to pay $5.99 a month for the sports package, which includes Fuel on channel 456. What? The UFC moves from Spike on basic cable to something I need to pay MORE to see. This is very bad in my view for the continued development of the MMA fan base.
Kurt Bermond
New York

Kurt, it's never good when it's difficult for the fan base to see the product. That said, part of Fox's motivation to do the deal with the UFC was to increase the viewership on Fuel. Given Fuel had such low carriage rate previously, most providers put it in packages where you had to pay extra to get it. Hopefully, this will change over time so that more fans will be able to see the shows. The best course of action now for UFC fans who are frustrated by an inability to get Fuel or having to pay additionally for it would be to call their satellite or cable company to complain.

Quoteworthy

I am simply stunned that the [Nevada Athletic Commission] granted Chael Sonnen a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone use [Monday]. My opinion is that this ruling is outrageous. The bizarre part is that the NSAC rendered the condition of testing him after his upcoming fight to assure that his testosterone levels are not elevated. Anyone who understands how anabolic steroids work knows that an athlete does not perform at their peak while using steroids. … The peak performance gains come 10-14 days after tapering off of testosterone. This is when an athlete becomes much more explosive and significantly faster. So testing an athlete at a time when he has tapered off a substance on purpose to maximize the performance benefits makes little sense. – Victor Conte, BALCO founder.

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