“You know what the true definition of hell is? It’s when you die, you get to meet the person you could have been.”

Back in April, in the lead up to his most recent bout with Daniel Cormier, UFC heavyweight contender Frank Mir spoke philosophically about his career on Road to the Octagon. He offered the above quote to an interviewer, as he described how he felt he hadn’t lived up to his true potential. Mir had moved from his home base in Las Vegas, where he trained at a private gym with training partners of his own choosing, to less familiar territory in Albuquerque, New Mexico: Greg Jackson’s MMA.

“People are their greatest enemy. We can just talk ourselves into, ‘Oh, that’s OK, that’s acceptable.’ When there’s another guy in front of me, trying to punch me in the face and take me down, the truth comes out real quick. That’s why I fight. If my mind was not limited by my body, I feel I’d beat everybody in the world. My greatest fear right now is to retire and not have reached my full potential.”

It’s been a winding road for Mir, whose fans hoped the change in scenery would re-ignite the jiu-jitsu standout’s career.

Mir is if a previous MMA generation who we could watch develop from an early stage, debuting in the UFC after only two fights. He had seemed a star right out of the gate, with submission victories over the more experienced Pete Williams and Roberto Travern among his early highlights. But, his career was derailed by a motorcycle accident shortly after winning the UFC Heavyweight championship in 2004. Forced to abandon the title, Mir would then suffer T/KO losses to Márcio “Pé de Pano” Cruz and Bandon Vera, sandwiched between an unimpressive win over Dan Christison. Instead of building on his early success, Mir would come to represent his opponents’ greatest achievement.

He would turn it around again, winning historic victories against Brazilian legend Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira to earn the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship. He shared a little philosophy again after the first bout, describing using Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” tactic of spreading misinformation – in this case, spreading false rumors that he was suffering from injuries in the camp leading up to the fight.

In recent bouts, Mir has ended up on the wrong side of encounters with Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, and Junior Dos Santos.

He would lose the Cormier bout by a wide margin – amazingly, the first time Mir would lose two fights in a row.
He’s got another chance tomorrow night against Josh Barnett, who may have also seen better days — but like Mir, remains a fixture in the heavyweight top ten.

Mir’s philosophy sounds great. But he needs a body that can carry it out. I guess that’s what he means with this quote:

“If my mind was not limited by my body, I feel I’d beat everybody in the world.”

So the mind is willing, and that body has all the muscles — but the way it moves is looking a little tired to me.

When I think of Mir in the Octagon, I think of past accomplishments and not the future. I also remember how he acquitted himself well contributing commentary for past MMA events. In the cage, his legacy is set: a former heavyweight champion who gave fans plenty of great memories. Maybe his future should be outside of it.

If things don’t work out this time, and Mir suffers his third straight loss, maybe it’s time to stop all these re-starts, close the book on this great career, and start something new.