After competing in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for nearly 14 years, former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir has stepped inside the Octagon a total of 25 times.
After his brutal first-round destruction of Todd Duffee at UFC Fight Night 71 on Weds. evening (July 15, 2015) at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif. (highlights), Mir walked out a winner for the 16th time, a heavyweight division record.
"I think he is pretty much the only guy left," said UFC President Dana White. "He was in this company when we bought it. He's still here, he's still winning. Unbelievable."
It's crazy to think that just last year, Mir was on a four-fight losing streak, which nearly forced him to walk away from the sport. Luckily for him, his wife urged him to take some time away to recharge the batteries and now he's no longer answering questions about his retirement.
After back-to-back first-round knockout victories to kick off his 2015 campaign, the resurgent No. 10-ranked UFC heavyweight is "glad" he didn't walk away from competition and said he's "rejuvenated" and still eager to improve.
"I think heavyweights mature later in life," said Mir at the UFC Fight Night 71 post-fight press conference (watch it). He would add to those comments later on by saying, "I kept hearing 'old and crafty' so I guess I decided tonight I wanted to show 'young and brash.'"
Mir, 36, took umbrage to some of the pre-fight banter from Duffee, and admitted he fought "emotional" in the frenetically-paced main event, which ultimately encouraged his willingness to engage in a fire fight and throw caution to the wind.
"Calling somebody out is one thing, but if you are going to make some of the comments he makes… It's disrespectful," Mir told Heidi Androl on FOX Sports 1. "It's belittling me. So it made me want to put a stamp on it, make sure it wasn't a decision or caught him in a quick submission. That's why I probably started biting down, because I wanted to go for the knockout right off the bat."
With 12 first-round finishes to his credit, Mir wanted to continue to showcase the boxing skills he's been sharpening under the tutelage of Angelo Reyes and was adamant that he needed to get a decisive win again, like the knockout victory over Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in his last fight. A decision just wasn't going to cut it against an unranked opponent that he originally wasn't too crazy about fighting.
"I had to make it where my victory wasn't going to be about who I had it over, but what kind of victory it was," Mir explained. "So I wanted to make a statement with my performance which overrode the fact that Todd Duffee was an opponent that I didn't want. Why? The guy isn't ranked and he's capable of knocking you out."
Mir has faced the best of the best, time and time again throughout his career and while he hasn't always come out on top, he's won two titles, fought for one on three other occasions and holds several UFC records. Mir's next opponent could very well be against another elder statesman in the heavyweight division, Andrei Arlovski. The two were supposed to fight over 10 years ago, but a motorcycle injury derailed his career at the time and prevented that fight against "The Pitbull" from ever happening.
As far as future opponents, Mir wasn't asked about any fighter who is currently on the roster. He was posed with a hypothetical question about a certain MMA legend who recently announced he's coming out of retirement.
If UFC could sign him, would he be interested in fighting Fedor Emelianenko?
"I have a lot of respect for Fedor," Mir said. "I think he just had a couple of bad fights there because the guy had 30 fights where he just ran through everybody. I think maybe he questioned himself and had some doubt and kind of basically did what I did. He's taken some time off and probably found himself. And that guy is a martial artist. He wasn't out of the gym. I'm sure he's in there still training Sambo and moving around.
"The guy is a very powerful, explosive and very savvy fighter. An opportunity to face him would be a huge, huge honor. My interest on a selfish side would want him to face someone else first so he showcases to everybody that he is still a monster and a scary dude. Remind maybe the modern fans who Fedor is. And after that, yeah. I faced a lot of the greats over there from PRIDE, Nogueira being one of them. Cro Cop, phenomenal fighter, who now is also making a rejuvenation of his career. So, going out there and facing somebody like Fedor, absolutely."
It may be 2015, but Mir's goal is the same as it was in 2001 when he first started. "To test myself," he said. "A lot of people try to do this, but you have to have a stone to smash yourself against. You have to have some type of furnace to temper the blade. And this is what this is for me. The UFC, the other fighters out there, I test myself against them. It's all about the journey. So this fight means the same to me as it mean 25 fights ago and 25 fights from now I'll be fighting for the same reasons."