Opportunity, Training, Strategy and Execution. That's how it went for Frank Saturday night. It was very very exciting to watch this unfold from behind the scenes and then in action.
About a month before the fight Frank called me and asked me to come out for some Ground n Pound & HIGH GEAR review. We had done a lot of the basics on the TUF show, but that was months ago when the fight was a date, now it was around the corner.
Ken Hahn worked Frank's striking every day. I don't think there is any question on whether the game plan and preparation was correct :-) as we all know now, the fight was just over 7 minutes with Frank getting hit just 2x (by my count) a jab and a leg kick, otherwise it looked like a sparring match instead of a battle.
This in no way is a put down of Nog, rather, its is more of a testament to Frank's mental prowess, and his team's fight plan leading up to the fight. While many fighters these days surround themselves with a variety of consultants and cross-train in a variety of styles, my understanding is many go outside to the 'experts' venue. I found Frank's approach different; rather than going to different camps where you are immediately immersed into that arena (simultaneously excluding the tactics from other systems), Frank had his experts come to him and his routine remained constant so that the additional insights he was looking for were added to his toolbox, and there if he needed. As example, when I was in town, he worked with me after he had done his fundamental training, there was no deviation from the preparation.
Having worked with warrior athletes all over the world, I also found Frank to be incredibly open minded, he would try anything, test it a bit and then ask the pertinent question: "Will it work?" There were several drills we modified (improved) after Frank put it into the MMA perspective. It was exciting to work with an athlete with this level of introspection and depth. Evolutions and improvements occurred in real time during the same workout.
During one HIGH GEAR GnP session there was something with Frank's footwork and entry that was nagging at me during what the community calls the 'Fedor'. There can be some hesitation when you look at a 270 lb UFC fighter and try to explain that how he pounces on his opponent can be more efficient, tighter… like a true student of the art, Frank listened, played with the movement and was truly working on the new angle. (Fortunately for me, WEC champ Miguel Torres, was there and was able to demo what my mind saw, but my body wasn't accustomed to doing), and within minutes, Frank was dropping shots on MMA fighter and sparring partner, James Horn who was wearing the gear.
Frank Mir is a true warrior…..
When I arrived at STRIKING UNLIMITED Frank was doing a basic jujitsu class with a bunch of beginner & intermediate students, the next day I showed up and he was doing a basic shadow boxing warm-up with beginners in a kick-boxing class. At first I was thinking…WTF? Why isn't he banging on the ground, MMA-ing…he's fighting for the UFC title in less than a month.
This is what I learned about Frank Mir: he is a martial artist first, the MMA is just an extension of his training. In the Samurai era, the true martial warrior trained and fought – for real and if there wasn't a battle going on somewhere, there were duels. That is Frank's path. He approached training with the proverbial Zen 'Beginner's Mind' and wants what every Samurai wanted, a duel against a worthy opponent. I would write more on this however it would be a poor Xerox of the excellent article Sam Sheridan, author of A FIGHTER'S HEART recently wrote for the feature on Frank in FIGHT magazine. I highly recommend the read as it illustrates Frank's intelligence and philosophy better than I can pen it here (Sam is an excellent writer, read his book too!)
I'm going to train, enjoy your day.