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Visit to 9/11 Memorial Puts Frank Mir In Refocused, Reflective Mood

NEW YORK -- Frank Mir can never go too far or too long without having someone ask him about a certain UFC heavyweight champion with whom his fate has been intertwined for over two years, and with whom he has the potential of a third and deciding rubber match to a possible trilogy.

For a time, Mir even went so far as to say the object of his interest -- some might say obsession -- was driving him "to the point of insanity."

But in the final hours before his UFC 111 interim title matchup with Shane Carwin, a calm and confident Mir said a refocused perspective has ensured that Brock Lesnar is a non-factor in his mind, and surprisingly, that he no longer even cares if he ever gets another crack at him.

"Shane is very dangerous and I'm focused on him. Honestly I'm trying to let go of the idea of fighting Brock," Mir said. "If it works out, it works out, and obviously I'd like to compete against him, but I have the same hunger to compete against someone like Cain Velasquez. He seems like a very dangerous opponent, too. I don't feel like I can guarantee that I could beat him 99 out of 100 times. I feel the same about Junior Dos Santos.

"Brock brings out the competitive side of me," Mir continued. "I'm 1-1 against him, but I've learned to let things go and I'm here."

Sitting next to his wife Jennifer on stacked workout mats at the Peak Performance gym in Lower Manhattan, and with his family and training partners nearby, a smiling, affable Mir told MMA Fighting that he was done with the hyper-intense approach that he's sometimes exhibited in the past.

It was, he said, something that he manufactured in order to illustrate his passion for the sport rather than simply being the laid-back, relaxed person he is in his everyday life.

"In the past I've had to fake it that I was worked up," he said. "Because if I didn't act like that, people thought I didn't care. It's like, because I realize it's a sporting event, because I'm not sitting at home staying awake dreaming about the outcome and working myself into a nervous frenzy –- because I'm not doing those things –- what does that have to do with me performing inside the octagon? In fact, it leads to paralyzation."

Mir said that putting his fighting career in perspective was an important part of his mental approach, and that win or lose, life would go on. And while a loss might be a blow to his ego, he'd still be able to smile with his wife and play with his kids and enjoy life.

Reinforcing that perspective on this trip was a Wednesday visit to Ground Zero at the site of the World Trade Center, where Mir and his family took in the sobering site where thousands perished.

"People want to talk about Brock, about winning a title, this and that. Those are things that we talk about as things that stress us or add pressure," he said. "I'm sitting there thinking, 'Man, people on that morning kissed their dad good-bye and never saw him again. That happened to sons, wives, children. That's serious. That's real problems in life, something to lose sleep over, not a fight.

"That helped me to see that," he continued. "I'm like, 'My children are happy and healthy. I have a career that allows my kids to be with me. So I'm ecstatic. I have to make sure I enjoy this moment. That's why when you see me walk to the octagon, I'll be very content and happy. Because, this Saturday might be the last time I ever get to walk out to a championship fight. I might as well enjoy the moment. This might be the last time anybody ever cares about what I have to say. You're here talking to me and I get to voice my concerns and thoughts about life. This might not ever happen again."

There's little chance Mir can be ignored anytime soon. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder has already won the UFC title outright once, and won an interim title as well, the second coming after a horrific motorcycle accident which could have threatened his life. A win assures him a shot at Lesnar, but even a loss only moves him back a bit in the UFC heavyweight title picture.

But it's clear that at 30 years old, Mir's maturity has caught up to his deep talent. On Saturday, while he's in the octagon, fighting will be the most important part of who he is, but after walking out the cage door, he'll put that behind him and worry about being a dad and husband.

His priorities shifted, Mir is comfortable with where he was, where he is and where he is going.

"I always want to prove myself as a martial artist," he said, "but the way the heavyweight division is stacked, if I never face Brock but I beat Shane and I beat Cain and I beat Dos Santos, I won't lose sleep over Brock. I could care less. Those are extremely dangerous and talented guys, and even if I never faced Brock again, I'd be very content to be able to say I beat them."

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