Francisco Santos “Frank” Mir, III (born May 24, 1979) is an American mixed martial artist. A two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, he currently holds the record for most fights, victories and submissions in UFC Heavyweight history, and is tied for 4th for most UFC victories overall. The only person to win a UFC bout by toe hold, Mir possesses the longest uninterrupted tenure of any fighter in UFC history. He is the first man to knock out and submit Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. As of August 10, 2015, Mir is #10 in UFC’s official Heavyweight rankings.


Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mir began training and competing in American Kenpo at a school owned by his parents, earning his black belt as a teenager. Mir’s father was a Cuban-born wrestler and played a major roll in convincing him to begin wrestling on the basis that it could help him avoid submissions. Mir joined the wrestling team at Bonanza High Schoolduring his junior year and lost his first nine matches. During his senior year (1998) he went 44–1 and won the state championship. Mir played fullback and defensive end on the school’s football team that reached the Southern Zone semifinals in 1997, and also competed in track and field. His discus throw of 177 feet, 10 inches is still a Sunset Regional record.

Mixed martial arts career

Mir met UFC matchmaker Joe Silva at a BJJ school. Silva saw potential in Mir and suggested that he compete in mixed martial arts. Mir made his professional debut against Jerome Smith at HOOKnSHOOT: Showdown on July 14, 2001. Mir won the bout by unanimous decision after two rounds. He won his second fight by first round triangle choke against Dan Quinn at IFC Warriors Challenge 15 on August 31, 2001.

On November 2, 2001 at UFC 34: High Voltage Mir made his UFC debut against 6th degree BJJ black belt Roberto Traven. Traven had previously competed in the UFC (at UFC 11) and was the 1999 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship open class champion. Mir defeated Traven by armbar at 1:05 of round one, earning “Tapout of the Night” in the process.

Mir’s next UFC match was against Lion’s Den fighter and eight-time UFC veteran Pete Williams at UFC 36: Worlds Collide on March 22, 2002. Mir submitted Williams, the only submission loss of Williams’ career, in 46 seconds with an inside shoulder lock that has since been named after Mir.

He faced Ian Freeman in London, England at UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall on July 13, 2002. Despite several leglock attempts by Mir, Freeman achieved side control four minutes into the first round and landed numerous punches and elbows to Mir’s head. A time out was called due to a cut on Mir’s face. After Freeman separated, the referee signaled Mir to stand back up and stopped the fight after Mir struggled to do so.

Mir then faced Tank Abbott at UFC 41 on February 28, 2003. Mir submitted Abbott with a (toe hold) in 46 seconds.

On June 26, 2003, Mir fought Wes Sims at UFC 43: Meltdown. Mir won by disqualification at 2:55 of the first round after Sims stomped on Mir’s jaw following a slam escape of an armbar attempt by Mir. They would rematch at UFC 46: Supernatural on January 31, 2004. Mir won by knockout at 4:21 of the second round.

Heavyweight championship

On June 19, 2004, Mir faced Tim Sylvia for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 48: Payback. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight 50 seconds into the first round after Mir broke Sylvia’s right forearm with a straight armbar. Sylvia initially protested the call but relented following a replay of the break. Sylvia was taken to a nearby hospital where an x-ray showed that his arm was broken in four places, two in each of radial and ulna bones of his right forearm. Sylvia underwent surgery later that week.

Mir earned his BJJ black belt from Ricardo Pires following the performance.

Motorcycle injury

On September 17, 2004, Mir was knocked off his motorcycle by a car. The accident caused two breaks in Mir’s femur and tore all the ligaments in his knee. An Interim Heavyweight Championship was created while Mir recovered from surgery, which Andrei Arlovski won by defeating Tim Sylvia via first round submission. On August 12, 2005, the UFC learned that Mir would not be able to face Andrei Arlovski in October as scheduled, and stripped him of the title after 14 months, promoting Arlovski to undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion. In 2010, Mir told FIGHT! Magazine that he was grateful for the accident.

Return to the UFC

In his first bout since the accident, Mir fought 4th degree BJJ black belt and six-time Mundials Champion Márcio Cruz at UFC 57: Liddell vs. Couture 3 on February 4, 2006. In a shocking upset, Mir was defeated by first round TKO.

Mir returned to the octagon on July 8, 2006 at UFC 61: Bitter Rivals against Dan Christison. Mir won by unanimous decision when all three judges scored the bout 29–28. Mir was widely criticized following the bout due to his sloppy appearance and inability to finish a seemingly mismatched opponent.

Despite the criticism, Mir was subsequently matched with Brandon Vera at UFC 65: Bad Intentions to determine the number one contender. Mir showed improved striking ability but was quickly stunned by a straight right from Vera  who then dropped him with knees from the Muay Thai clinch. Vera then secured side control and delivered a number of punches and elbows, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:09 of the first round.

While preparing for UFC 140, Mir attributed his poor performance in his initial return bouts to lingering health issues following the accident.

Rise back to title contention

Frank Mir was scheduled to fight kickboxer Antoni Hardonk at UFC Fight Night 9 on April 5, 2007 but had to drop out due to a shoulder injury. He faced Hardonk at UFC 74 and won via kimura at 1:17 of the first round. At the end of the bout, Mir walked to the cameras pointing at himself saying “I’m back!”. Frank’s wife Jennifer was shown on the replay screaming and crying with joy when Frank secured the kimura and the fight was stopped.

On February 2, 2008, at UFC 81, Mir welcomed former WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar to the octagon for Lesnar’s highly anticipated debut. It took Lesnar less than 10 seconds to shoot for a takedown and muscle Mir to the mat. However, seconds after Lesnar began to unload strikes from Mir’s half guard, Referee Steve Mazzagatti controversially deemed that there were some illegal punches landed to the back of Mir’s head, drawing a foul and a one-point deduction. They were stood up and Mir was given a brief recovery period, but as the fight resumed Mir was almost instantly dropped with a big punch from Lesnar. Lesnar continued to land punches on Mir and shucked off Mir’s armbar attempt before moving to a stacked guard. It was here that Mir caught Lesnar with a kneebar, causing Lesnar to tap out at 1:30 of the first round. Mir was awarded with Submission of the Night honors.

The Ultimate Fighter Season 8

Spike TV announced on May 12, 2008 that former UFC champion Frank Mir would face off with the current UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion and former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira as the coaches for the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.

The season, which premiered on Spike TV on September 17, returned to the two-weight class format. It featured Light Heavyweight and Lightweight fighters. Production on season eight began in late May, with the entire cast announced in September, and concluded in December.

Second Heavyweight Championship

Frank Mir fought his fellow Ultimate Fighter coach, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, at UFC 92 for the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. This bout was part of a mini-Heavyweight tournament, often hyped by UFC president Dana White. The winner of this fight would then face the winner of the match between the Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar defeated Couture by TKO in the second round, earning him the Heavyweight Championship belt in the process and setting him to face the winner of Noguerira/Mir to unify the belts.

“I wish I could make the statement that ‘the odds were against me but you never quit’, It was not true. I wanted to give up.”

-Frank Mir, talking about his career ups and downs.

In the fight with Nogueira, Mir showcased vastly improved striking, particularly his boxing, knocking down the Brazilian twice in the first round, and once in the second. Herb Dean stopped the match at 1:54 of the second round declaring Frank Mir the winner. Nogueira’s loss marked the first time he has lost a fight due to strikes. In a post-fight interview, Mir credited his improved striking to a drastic improvement in conditioning.

Two days after the fight, Dana White revealed in an interview that “Nogueira had just gotten over a Staph infection”. Nogueira himself verified this fact several months later in his own interview, stating that he had a staph infection “20 days before the fight, [requiring] 5 days in the hospital.” When asked if this infection affected his fight, Nogueira answered: “For sure.” In addition to this illness, his knee was injured during training for which he had surgery in February 2009. Despite these handicaps, Nogueira offered strong praise for Mir’s performance, with particular credit given to Mir’s ability to maintain “very good distance”.

Heavyweight championship unification

Mir’s victory over Nogueira set in place a re-match with the UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. However, Mir stated, that in his opinion, holding victories over former UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92 and current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 is enough to recognize him as the owner of the “real belt”. On May 23, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mir was scheduled to fight Brock Lesnar at UFC 98, however Mir sustained a knee injury during training which required arthroscopic surgery and the removal of bone chips from his knee. Mir’s rematch against Brock Lesnar was rescheduled for UFC 100, July 11, 2009.

At UFC 100, Mir was lively on his feet but proved unable to counter Lesnar’s wrestling and positional dominance. In the second round, after being allowed to standup, he landed a combo ending with a turning right elbow which forced Lesnar to look for a clinch. Mir took this opportunity to attempt a jumping right knee, which landed, but ultimately resulted in Lesnar securing another takedown. After a short period of recovery from the knee, Lesnar pinned Mir up against the cage and delivered multiple unanswered blows to his face, forcing referee Herb Dean to stop the fight via TKO at 1:48 in the second round. With the win, Lesnar became the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion.

Mir vs. Kongo

Mir had his next fight against Cheick Kongo on December 12, 2009 at UFC 107. Mir was expected to weigh 20 to 25 lbs heavier than usual, due to the strength and conditioning program that he had undertaken to largely improve his muscular frame. As expected, Mir weighed in for his fight against Kongo at 264.5 lbs. At the weigh-ins, Kongo refused to face Mir during the traditional stare-down before the fight. During the fight, Mir stunned Kongo with an overhand left early, dropping him and swarming to secure a guillotine choke victory at 1:12 in the first round. Kongo refused to tap and was rendered unconscious by the choke. Frank Mir replaced his striking coach Ken Hahn with Boxing trainer Jimmy Gifford 2 months prior to his fight against Cheick Kongo.

In the post-fight press conference, Mir expressed his desire to fight a rubber match with Brock Lesnar. Mir later created controversy after commenting that he wanted to break Lesnar’s neck, so that he would become the first mixed martial artist to die in competition. Mir later made an apology for his comments.

Interim Heavyweight Championship bout

Mir faced Shane Carwin for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship on March 27, 2010 at UFC 111. After a brief standup exchange, Carwin pushed Mir against the cage where he delivered to Mir’s chin several short uppercuts. Mir was knocked out unconscious and lost the fight via knockout at 3:48 of the first round.

At a UFC Fan Expo, Mir said he briefly considered dropping down to the Light Heavyweight division, although he later confirmed he will remain at Heavyweight.[58]

Second rise back to title contention

Mir was expected to face Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on September 25, 2010 at UFC 119 in a rematch from the Interim Championship bout, which Mir won via TKO at UFC 92. Nogueira pulled out of this fight due to knee surgery and was replaced by Mirko Filipović. Mir defeated Filipović via third-round knockout, earning the win with a knee from the clinch in a largely uneventful fight where neither fighter was able to deliver any significant offense.

Mir faced former IFL Heavyweight Champion Roy Nelson on May 28, 2011 at UFC 130. He won via unanimous decision by using superior control and constant pressure. Pushing against the cage, completing a Judo hip throw and securing several takedowns in the third round, showing improved wrestling. Mir landed several hard knees and elbows from the Muay Thai clinch throughout the entire bout, but was unable to finish the very tough Nelson.

A rematch with Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira took place on December 10, 2011 at UFC 140. In the bout, Mir was dropped during the first round by a punch from Nogueira and the bout nearly stopped. Mir quickly recovered and gained superior positioning, defeating Nogueira by kimura at 3:38 of round 1, snapping Nogueira’s arm in the process because Nogueira refused to tap. Mir is now the first of only three fighters (the others being Cain Velasquez and Roy Nelson) to have finished Nogueira via knockout, and the first to finish him via submission. This marked the first time Nogueira had been stopped via submission in mixed martial arts. The victory also earned Mir Submission of the Night honors. UFC President Dana White called it the “submission of the century” at the post-fight press conference.

Third title shot and beyond

Mir was expected to face Cain Velasquez on May 25, 2012 at UFC 146. However, on April 20, 2012, Dana White announced that Mir would face Brazilian Junior dos Santos for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, replacing kickboxer Alistair Overeem. On May 11, 2012 UFC Primetime returned to promote the fight between Mir and dos Santos, and concluded on May 25. Dos Santos was able to use superior foot work to strike on and out before Mir could mount any significant offense. Mir lost the fight via TKO in the second round. and has since said he will continue his career and go back to the drawing board.

The UFC announced that Mir had been given a one fight sabbatical to compete under the Strikeforce banner to challenge Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion Daniel Cormier. The bout with Cormier was expected to take place on November 3, 2012 at Strikeforce: Cormier vs. Mir. However, on September 19 it was revealed that Mir suffered an injury in training and was forced to pull out of the bout. The bout with Cormier was rescheduled for April 20, 2013 at UFC on Fox 7. Mir lost the fight by unanimous decision.

Mir faced returning former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett on August 31, 2013 at UFC 164. Mir lost via knockout

Mir was scheduled to face Alistair Overeem on November 16, 2013 at UFC 167. However, the pairing was moved to February 1, 2014 at UFC 169. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.

Mir was expected to face Antônio Silva on February 28, 2015 at UFC 184. However, the bout with Silva was moved up a week and served as event headliner for UFC Fight Night 61. Despite being the betting underdog, Mir won the fight via knockout in the first round, dropping Silva with a left hook and finishing him with a barrage of ground and pound. Subsequently, Mir won a Performance of the Night bonus.

Mir faced Todd Duffee at UFC Fight Night 71 on July 15, 2015. He won the fight via knockout in the first round after dropping Duffee with a straight left. Referee Big John Mccarthy immediately stepped in to stop the fight as Duffee face planted onto the mat. Mir earned his second consecutive Performance of the Night bonus.

Mir faced Andrei Arlovski on September 5, 2015 at UFC 191. He lost the fight via unanimous decision, in which many thought Mir won including UFC president Dana White.

Personal life

Mir and his wife Jennifer have three children together, and Jennifer has a son from a previous relationship whom Mir adopted.

Mir is an atheist and Libertarian. He followed a vegan diet for a year but switched to a Paleo diet due to lack of energy. Mir suffers from low testosterone and underwent testosterone replacement therapy from 2012 until its banning in 2014.

Mir worked as a bouncer at the Spearmint Rhino in Las Vegas before entering the UFC, and continued to work there as Director of Security while pursuing his UFC career.

Color commentary

Frank Mir was a color commentator for the World Extreme Cagefighting until WEC 47, when he was replaced by Stephan Bonnar.

In June 2012, Mir stated in an interview with The Chronicle-Journal that he wants to pursue commentary after he retires from fighting. “I like analyzing fights and I like doing color commentating” – said Mir. “It’s an opportunity I would take advantage of when I run into it. Hopefully it’s something I can do full time”.

Championships and achievements

Mixed martial arts

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • UFC Heavyweight Championship (One time)
    • Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship (One time)
    • Submission of the Night (Two times) vs. Brock Lesnar and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira[105][106][107]
    • Performance of the Night (Two times) vs. Antônio Silva and Todd Duffee
    • Most wins in UFC Heavyweight division (16)
    • Most fights in UFC Heavyweight division (25)
    • Most finishes in UFC Heavyweight division (13)
    • Most first round finishes in UFC history (10)
    • Second most wins by submission in UFC (8)
    • Most wins by submission in UFC Heavyweight division (8)
    • First and only toe hold finish in UFC history
    • Fastest submission in UFC Heavyweight division (45 seconds)
    • Fought five different UFC Heavyweight Champions
    • Defeated three different UFC Heavyweight Champions
    • 2011 Submission of the Year vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10
    • 2011 Comeback Of The Year vs Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10
    • Tied for the 2nd most Finishes in UFC History (13)
    • Tied for the 4th most Victories in UFC History (16)
  • FIGHT! Magazine
    • 2008 Submission of the Year vs. Brock Lesnar on February 2
  • Sherdog
    • 2008 Comeback Fighter of the Year
    • 2011 Submission of the Year vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10
    • 2011 All-Violence Second Team
    • Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • ESPN
    • 2011 Submission of the Year vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10
  • 2012 World MMA Awards
    • 2011 Submission of the Year vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira on December 10
    • 2011 Comeback of the Year vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

Submission grappling

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
    • Black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Ricardo Pires
  • Pan American Championships
    • Blue Belt Pesadissimo: 1st place (2001)
  • North American Grappling Association
    • NAGA Absolute Division Champion (2007)

Amateur wrestling

  • Nevada State Wrestling
    • Nevada State Wrestling Champion (1998)