For most of his career, Frank Mir has been known as the most dangerous submission fighter in the UFC. And for the second fight in a row, he flattened a hard-hitting heavyweight as he put away Todd Duffee with a dramatic one-punch knockout just past the one-minute mark of the first round at Fight Night San Diego on Wednesday.
When Mir was first challenged for the fight, he showed little interest in facing Duffee because the 29-year-old veteran wasn’t in the top 10 and likely wouldn’t move him forward in his own career.
Eventually with options limited, Mir took the fight and came out to prove that at 36 years old, he still had more than a few tricks left in his arsenal.
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As soon as the round started, Mir and Duffee came out looking to exchange punches with neither man backing down in the pocket.
Mir has been working extensively with a new boxing coach over the past year, and he showed off his chops as he clipped Duffee early and looked for the finish right away. Duffee was able to clinch and stave off the attack, although his success was short lived.
The two fighters eventually met again in the center of the Octagon with Duffee swinging wild punches and Mir trying to stay composed while fighting his greatest urges to just throw down with his opponent.
Duffee’s wide-open stance when throwing punches eventually got the better of him because as he uncorked a wild and wide shot, Mir stepped in and countered with a perfectly timed left hook that absolutely crushed his opponent’s jaw.
Mir followed through on the punch and Duffee spun around and fell face first to the canvas.
Mir quickly jumped on top but the fight was already over as the referee quickly rushed in to stop the action before Duffee took anymore damage. Mir got up off the ground and began to celebrate as Duffee was motionless on the canvas, the victim of a vicious first-round knockout.
After a few moments, Duffee started stirring and he was back on his feet with a good-sized gash across the top of his head, but no worse for wear outside of the knockout courtesy of the former UFC heavyweight champion.
Mir has enjoyed a career rejuvenation of late after dropping four fights in a row and nearly considering retirement. After taking a year off to allow his body and mind to heal, the Las Vegas native has gone 2-0, both by knockout. Neither fight made it to the two-minute mark of the first round.
With Wednesday night’s win, Mir tied for the second-most finishes in UFC history (13) and the fourth-most wins (16).
"I went out there and beat a young stud at what he does best," Mir said after Wednesday’s victory. "Which is throw leather. I got a little emotional, I usually don’t do that."
It wasn’t long ago when it seemed like Mir’s best days were far behind him as he was struggling against the top-10 fighters in the heavyweight division. Now with two wins in a row, both in dramatic fashion, it appears Mir is ready to tackle the top of the division again with a slew of fights that could greet him in the near future.
"When someone’s coming at you like a bull, you’ve got to go forward," Mir said. "I just showcased where our training has been.
"I expected to be more technical tonight. I felt a little less than technical tonight. It’s going to make people wonder now — I can come out there and I can fight hard like a young bull or I can still be the matador."
Mir will now likely wait for a top-10 opponent to come available later this year as he looks to close out 2015 with an undefeated record — a mark he hasn’t made since winning two fights in 2011 before earning a UFC heavyweight title shot.