By Case Keefer
Las Vegas Sun
When octagon announcer Bruce Buffer introduces Frank Mir on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., he’ll precede the heavyweight’s name with six of the same words he’s used 20 times before — “fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.”
For the first time in Mir’s 12-year career, however, it’s not completely accurate. Mir has spent almost the entire past eight weeks preparing for UFC on Fox 7 co-main event opponent Daniel Cormier in Albuquerque, N.M., with trainer Greg Jackson’s team.
"But I was born and raised in Vegas," Mir said. "I'll keep that homage."
Mir's family remains in Las Vegas and he still calls the valley home. He traveled back frequently during the Cormier camp and planned to take the same approach going forward.
It's just that the personal gym he built in North Las Vegas won't get as much use anymore -- not for Mir at least. The 33-year-old is planning to get ready for his fights at Jackson's gym for the foreseeable future.
It's a byproduct of how he felt about the experience training for Cormier, which Mir said exceeded all of his expectations.
"Having a bigger depth of talent to work with in the gym every day and bouncing ideas off of them was great," Mir said. "Misery enjoys company, and having all these other world-class fighters in the gym made it all go a little faster."
There are training session when Mir spars with current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and No. 10 ranked heavyweight Travis Browne on the same day.
"And having guys like Donald Cerrone sitting outside of the cage when I'm with those guys and giving me pointers and tips was a great help," Mir said. "Everyone, in my eyes, was a great help."
Mir knew it was the type of attention he needed going into a bout that featured an opponent as skilled as Cormier. After spending the better part of a decade as an Olympic wrestler, Cormier transitioned to mixed martial arts with sterling results.
He's won all eight of his bouts, five by stoppage, and captured the Strikeforce heavyweight title. Cormier called out Mir, whom he was supposed to fight last year before an injury derailed the plans, after his last victory.
Cormier, a minus-400 (risking $4 to win $1 favorite), has stayed confident when addressing Mir before the fight.
"There are only select individuals who can take the beatings. Frank has and still continues to be the way he is," Cormier said on a conference call last week.
Mir was confused by that remark. He feels like his credentials as a former heavyweight champion speak for themselves and don't need to be validated.
But, at the same time, Mir thought Cormier might have been praising him.
"I've had adversity throughout my career, and I think it's a compliment that I've continued to persevere and I'm still here," Mir said.
Perseverance is what landed Mir in Albuquerque. After getting knocked out by Junior dos Santos in the second round of his last fight at UFC 146, Mir re-evaluated everything in his career.
He thought a training change was in order. The 600-mile journey east started as a trial.
But now Mir's committed.
"It will be a permanent move," Mir said. "I very much enjoyed it down there. I thought the preparation for the fight was the best I had ever done. Regardless of the outcome -- I think a lot of people would say, if I lose I wouldn't consider the move to be justified, but I don't agree -- it was a great experience and I'll be back to do it again."
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