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A chance meeting with ex-matchmaker Joe Silva helped lead ex-champ Frank Mir to UFC

Being a successful athlete involves hard work and dedication. But a little luck along the way certainly doesn’t hurt.

That is something that ex-champ Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC) can attest to. Although consistently beating fellow heavyweights throughout his long-running UFC career was a product of his own labor, Mir had chance on his side when he was first spotted by former lead UFC matchmaker Joe Silva more than 15 years ago.

Back then, Mir balanced a job as a front desk receptionist at Texas Station in Las Vegas with daily sessions of boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and weight training. Martial arts, he said, was certainly a huge passion – just not one that, at that point, he saw as a source of income.

Until, in a “preparation meeting opportunity” scenario, Silva appeared.

“There was no idea I was going to get paid to do that; I just loved to train,” Mir told MMAjunkie Radio. “So, there was one day, I was in the gym at Modern Martial Arts, and this short, unassuming individual on a 10-speed bike showed up. Said he’d just gotten a place nearby there because the offices he works at, Zuffa, were right there. So like, ‘What do you do?’ Oh, ‘I’m vice president or matchmaker for the UFC.’ Like, really? He just showed up on a 10-speed! ‘You’re a matchmaker, huh buddy?’ It’s just not what you would think.

“And then he was watching me train and roll around and noticed how well I moved for a heavyweight. And had mentioned, ‘Hey, have you thought about fighting professionally?’ And I already had. I went like, ‘I like fighting. I want to do it. I just never aspired –’ ”Well, we have your number.'”

Mir, of course, would not have caught Silva’s eye had he not been honing his skills before. The same way that going on to take over the UFC’s heavyweight throne and beat names such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Roy Nelson was all his doing.

Mir, of course, won’t “disavow” all the hard work that he and many others put in daily, but he also acknowledges the role that luck played into his early career.

“That is an opportunity where he just chose my gym to walk into, and I happened to be training there,” Mir said. “It worked out. Now, again, I was doing all the hard work already. It wasn’t like I just walked down the street and someone goes, ‘Hey you would you be interested in shooting a movie?’

“I was doing everything, but had he gone north instead of south, what gym could have he walked into? Or maybe that day I called in sick, or didn’t feel good, or my shift got changed.”

Silva has since retired and left the UFC. And Mir, who’s been fighting under the UFC banner since then, might be on his way out too. Currently serving a two-year suspension after testing positive for a banned substance, he went on to say on that same show that he’s looking to be released from his contract.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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