Washed up. Done. Over. A shadow of his former self.

That is essentially just a sampling of MMA fan’s thinking towards Frank Mir as he headed into his headlining bout against Antonio Silva last month. Mir, on a four fight losing streak, was seen as a fighter well past his expiry date. Few really picked him to win against the hulking Brazilian fighter. Few expected him to make it out of the first round.

Yet it was Silva, otherwise known as “Bigfoot,” who failed to escape the first round, shocking pretty much the entire MMA community as a whole – but not Mir.

Mir had undergone a recovery period. A year off from the sport to heal and rebuild. And while a year off is a leisure not every fighter can take — Mir is lucky to have made enough as a professional mixed martial artist to be able to afford it, and in his mid-30s, time is only now growing short as far as his career window is concerned — it’s an approach more fighters should probably try.

MMA takes a considerable toll on its practitioners, especially at the elite level. Nearly every fighter fights hurt, and nearly every fighter enters into a bout with some nagging injury or other. Only the most critical wind up treated in a timely fashion. Fighters also tend to suffer from tough-guy mentality (this isn’t an area inhabited by fighters alone, as any kid with an old-school, suck it up and march forward mentality Father can tell you); they don’t want to bow out due to injury. They don’t feel the need to, and they hate admitting that sometimes, they can’t do it, that sometimes, their body lets them down.

In Mir’s case, he has his wife to thank for his extended vacation: speaking to the press leading up to UFC Fight Night 61 and his return bout against Silva, he stated it was Jennifer Mir who put her foot down and demanded he take some time off, even squashing plans for him to return as early as last summer. So instead, he wound up away from the cage for a little over a year. Recovering, healing, and working on his boxing — which clearly showed in his knockout win over Bigfoot.

You can’t help but think of Georges St. Pierre when thinking of Mir. GSP looked tired, plain exhausted, in his win of Johny Hendricks. There’s no doubt that is why he’s gone now, at least in part. You can’t help but think of a heap of other fighters as well: Overeem, Nelson, Dos Santos, Shogun. Think where they could be with proper time off to heal. Rampage perhaps could have benefited from a break towards the end of his first UFC run. Dan Henderson, a couple of years back?

Medical suspensions after bouts are supposed to take care of this — giving fighters time off between training camps, issuing no contact orders, but all too often, fighters get medical clearance to return early, and rare are extremely lengthy suspensions. And keep in mind that time off to heal the nagging injuries is different from time off due to a direct injury. That’s rehab. It’s not at all that same as just taking a break.

Maybe the fighters themselves need to become more adept at listening to their bodies, though again, only those secure financially can afford to do so — and even then, it will take some convincing. Looking at Mir, however, it might just be worthwhile.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.