Frank Mir talks slaying ‘huge dragon’ Duffee: ‘No really, it’s a gator’

Sometimes the question a fighter gets asked isn't the one they want to answer. Enter Frank Mir, who recently knocked out heavyweight, heavy-hitter Todd…

By: Zane Simon | 8 years ago
Frank Mir talks slaying ‘huge dragon’ Duffee: ‘No really, it’s a gator’
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Sometimes the question a fighter gets asked isn’t the one they want to answer. Enter Frank Mir, who recently knocked out heavyweight, heavy-hitter Todd Duffee at UFC Fight Night San Diego, back in July. Mir hosted Fight Hub TV to talk about his Duffee fight, and his upcoming bout against Andrei Arlovski set for UFC 191 in September. So, right off the bat one reporter wanted to know, just how satisfied Frank Mir was with his win over Duffee?

What follows is, verbatim, that answer:

“It was very satisfying. And also, too, then I can point to people and sit there and go, ‘Look, I was just honest with myself and what had to be done with the criterias.’ I think a lot of people, and humans, we just, as people, we do that… We look at something and we make it out to be this huge dragon. It’s like ‘Oh, it’s 30 feet tall, it breathes fire, it does this.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s a gator. No really, it’s a gator.’ You know what I mean? Like, I’m not saying it’s not dangerous, but there’s a way to attack this, a way to go after it, a way to move. And looking at Duffee, it’s like yeah, I didn’t sit there… And guys seem to go either one of two ways, either over-respect the guy and, you know they go, ‘Oh my god, the guy’s knocked out 9 people in the first round!’ Okay. Or, underestimate them and sit there and go, ‘Well, you know, yeah but it’s only been first round knockouts and any time he gets out of the first round he gets knocked out, or he’s…’ So guys I think kinda, they disassociate the issue by disassociation. They sit there and they go… That’s how they approach it, by going, ‘Okay, well that scares me, but I’m going to devalue it, it doesn’t matter.’ And I think that’s a very dangerous tactic also, you have to be realistic about what you’re facing.

“If we’re in war, as a general, I can’t just sit there and go ‘Oh, they suck. Just flank ’em.’ Well, no. And at the same time we can’t be there, ‘We can’t win, let’s just go home right now! Let them take your wife and maybe they won’t slay us.’ You know what I mean? There has to be that realistic approach where you sit there and say, ‘Okay, this is what they’re capable of, this is what I’m capable of, and this is the game plan that I’m going to have to follow to get through this.’ So, with the Duffee fight, you know, everyone was saying the things and I heard it. And I would look at it and break it down.

“I have Angelo, who watches more film than probably anyone in the world, and just sits there and watches it. And Ricky’s psychologically on a different level than anybody else, talking to them and breaking it down. Then I got James, is kind of like my, also how my wife is, he’s more of my spiritual… You know, he says things intelligently too, just like Ricky and Angelo. But, where everything is very clinical with them, I have James come by and be like, ‘Remember who you are, man. You’re… Yeah!’ So I kind of get that, ‘Yeah, yeah. YEAH!’ You know, he’s like my brother in combat. A little bit like, ‘Hey man…’ Not unrealistically, but very much my soul and my heart of it. He’s always the guy, when my wife’s not there, she speaks through him. It’s funny, because she’ll give each guy different directions. ‘Okay Ricky, this is what you’re taking care of.’ Her and he communicate and her and Angelo communicate and her and James communicate. And each guy has a different aspect of my mind and soul and she knows how to allocate. ‘Okay, James is going to take care of this. And James, don’t let anybody… You know how Frank’s nice, he won’t say no. So, if someone says he’s doing a 6am interview, you say no. The fight’s in two days.’

“So the fight, going back to that, the satisfaction with Duffee, very much was focused on what he was good at. Did I realize that he hits very hard? Absolutely. But, did I realize how to approach it? Because, again, my coaches and staff coming in and mimicking it, we knew that, okay he punches hard because he leaps in. He’s a 240lb guy that can probably be in the NFL. I mean, the guy leaps in, it’s gonna hurt. I’ve seen the guy have a vertical jump that’s incredible, I mean explosive-wise. But, we knew that these punches just came from an athlete. He’s an athlete that’s hitting people, but he’s not a boxer. And I never got disillusioned with that. Where a lot of other people would go, ‘Oh, he’s a boxer.’ I would go, ‘No, he’s not. He’s not a boxer.’ And I don’t’ want to… I’m not throwing salt on the wound, but you’ve seen some of the punches he threw. They weren’t effective punches, because I took him out of his element. I kept him from being in a game of athleticism, which, he’s a great athlete; the guy’s explosive. I didn’t want to face him there.

“So, they said, ‘Hey, everybody’s right. Their first intuition is, in the first round he’s very dangerous, he’s very explosive. How they’re handling it is completely incorrect.’ A guy that jumps and leaps and is able to get so much power from his legs behind his punches, he’s not using his hips, he’s using his legs. Which sounds weird to people, but there is a difference. If you back up, he’s going to hit you harder. You jam him and force him to use his hips and use technique to hit you, he’s not going to hit as hard. That’s why, even when we were in the ring and I jumped on him, he was landing shots, the only shot that he ever caught me with that snapped my head back was the jab. And again, he landed one good shot, but all the rest, he would throw and everybody was like, ‘Oh, you know, you’re in there brawling with him.’ I’m like, ‘But, it’s not as dangerous as if I had stepped back.’ So, we had a good gameplan, the coaches looked at it, everybody was agreed, we were one force going in there, and I just, I executed on my part, to give myself credit.

“Everybody can tell you the right thing, but if you don’t do it under pressure… You look across the ring, you see Duffee and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Coming forward doesn’t seem like a good idea all of a sudden.’ And then you back up, get hit, get knocked out, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh man, why did I do that?’ So, a lot of mental discipline, the fighter portion of trying to execute. The coaches can say, “Hey, do this.” I’m sure many coaches can watch this right now and just shake their head and go, ‘Yes, I told my guy to do this and he didn’t.’ Well, there’s a lot of psychology at play here, there’s a lot of emotions going on before a fighter fights. I’ve got 14 years of being in the UFC to deal with this high level of emotion. My wife and I are constantly on that level where we’re debating and moving back and constantly dissecting and breaking myself down. And my coaches are very open to who I am as a person. If they tell me, you’re going to do this and I’m like, ‘If you say it that way, it’s not going to work for me. Could you say it this way?’ ‘Fine, I’ll say it this way to you.’ ‘Okay, thank you, that helps me with this.’

“So, coming in and moving forward and like I said, then I took Duffee out of his element by jamming him and moving him forward that the boxer part of him showcased. And everybody goes, ‘Oh, he sucks.’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s because I was able to push him and show his technique and change.’ And then he stepped southpaw for a second and it threw me off; threw that first jab. But, that’s one thing I’ve learned from boxing that’s been so great, sparring with Bermane and Huck and some of the guys I get to spar with and move, and that was kind of the first thing that gave me a hard time… I remember Angelo and I were here and we were doing some hard sparring sessions and I would land a shot on the guy I was sparring and all of a sudden three or four shots would come back. He goes, ‘Hey man, this isn’t tag. You think this because sometimes in MMA you get into this tag thing. You’re right, it matters who hits first, but it also matters who hits second, third, fourth, and fifth. Those shots all count. Just because you land the first one, doesn’t mean you’re winning the altercation.’ He goes, ‘In boxing it’s very much like, look, we’re going to get hit, even Mayweather gets hit. You’re going to get hit, it’s what you do after that first shot to either discourage the guy from throwing more or you’re going to help him out.’ And at first it started out with my using a lot of movement.

“And that was the first element of my growth, is just learning that, okay, just because I got hit doesn’t mean cover up and step back and acknowledge, ‘Okay, you got me.’ Well no, because now I’m walking right back into the line of fire and he looks even better. Now I’ve learned to get hit and not move backwards, but just… I know combinations. Inherently, if you hit me with a jab, what’s the most dangerous punch that’s probably going to come statistically? It’s going to be a cross. So, when the jab hit me, you see me immediately step off outside of his left shoulder. So, even though I couldn’t even see him for a second, because I’m looking up at the ceiling, because I got my head snapped back, my brain goes, ‘Get out of the line of the straight right.’ Then you see me go, ‘What comes after a straight, rear-hand-shot? Here comes the hook.’ So then you see me step off on the other way, going, ‘I know what’s coming next.’ And then sure enough he threw it.

“And the reason why I stepped forward on the next shot is, when he stepped between my legs, not making the adjustment that we’re both fighting now in a closed fighting stance, he stepped in the wrong direction. When I stepped over, I seen an opportunity to stun him with a shot and I took it. So I came back in, stunned him with the left, which was only meant to… Everybody, when they first get hit, you know, you have your range finder punch to close the distance, you have your stun shot. That’s, or maybe even a decoy, depends on the combination, how I’m going to set it up at that moment, but that was going to be my stun shot. At that moment, because of the intensity of the fight, I didn’t need a decoy. I didn’t choose to use a decoy at that moment. The stunning was to stun his nervous system for a second, everybody here has done something where you get hit for a second and there’s that momentary 3/10ths of a second where you’re like, ‘Ah!’ We just can’t help it, we don’t move for a second, so then I can set you up for the really hard shot that’s going to try to finish you. And that’s when I was actually setting him up for the hook, which ended up flailing in the air. He was gone.

“But then, not wanting to let him get back up I jumped back on top of him. Then I had my plan was to throw some strikes and grind him. I wasn’t even going to look for a submission in the first round because of how… Unless he gave it to me. Obviously, everything changes when people, ‘Take it.’ ‘Well, thank you, I’ll go home early.’ The idea was to, because of his musculature and the type of ATPs, energy system that he has… Compared to an oxadive. We discussed and broke down Todd as an athlete, that if I just jumped on him and got on top, the idea was that I was going to wrestle him down. Very much like how Cormier did with Johnson. Where he grinded him out… Anthony is a phenomenal, the guy could probably play any sport in the world if they were to teach it to him, supremely powerful, explosive guy. Cormier, who is one heck of a tactician, knew, ‘Okay, I’m going to go ahead and just grind this guy for a little while, make his muscles useless. So, he’s not just a suit of armor that’s not going to protect him. And then in the next couple rounds…’ So, I figured that’s how I’d set up my submission with him as strong as he is. Even though people go, ‘What about the sweat as the fight goes on?’ I’m like, ‘My submissions are pretty strong, I’m not worried about the sweat. If I can ride my bucking bronco and get him to relax…’ You know, you jump on a horse and he’s flailing around, it’s kind of hard to maneuver. Once I get him to break and I sit there and I go, ‘Okay, you’re going to concede that I’m going to hold you down? Cool. Now I’m going to start working my submission game.'”

So, to sum up, Frank Mir is pretty satisfied with his win over Todd Duffee. He also talked about his respect for Andrei Arlovski and his wish that they didn’t have to fight just quite yet, without a title on the line. Check out the whole interview. And if our Ooyala player isn’t working, here it is over on YouTube.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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