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Hardy plays key role in Mir's title preparations

ESPN staff
May 25, 2012 « Murray opens against Ito at Roland Garros | Chartbeat test »
UFC 146 features a main card full of heavyweights © Getty Images
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If Frank Mir wins the UFC heavyweight championship this weekend, there is a fair chance he will be straight on the phone to thank England's Dan Hardy, who has helped drag Mir's fitness levels to new heights.

Mir meets champion Junior Dos Santos in Saturday's UFC 146 main event, knowing there is the potential for him to have to fight 25 minutes before getting his hands on the belt.

The American does not see it as a problem, given the fact he was initially preparing for Cain Velasquez before he got promoted to meet the Dos Santos. Velasquez is known for his exceptional cardio, so Mir had already been training for five rounds even when he was not in the main event.

However, his efforts have been boosted by Hardy, who also fights this weekend against Duane Ludwig. Hardy and Mir have been working together since the Brit moved to Las Vegas, and Mir says there are times when he wishes he'd never met him.

"Dan Hardy's a great guy - he's somebody who has pushed me hard in this training camp," Mir said in response to ESPN's question at the pre-fight press conference.

"I make no bones about the fact I hate to run, I'd rather be beaten down by dudes with baseball bats than hit the road.

"For this fight I've run a lot. Due to the fact Dan comes from a group of guys who train really hard over in the UK, he brings that work ethic here.

"He's very disciplined, there wasn't ever one time where I've driven out to meet him for a run and he wasn't already there waiting for me - regardless of the fact I wished he wasn't sometimes!"

In one of Mir's more modest moments, he also revealed he does not consider himself the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in MMA. Despite holding the UFC record for submission victories by a heavyweight [8], Mir insists Fabricio Werdum is the best.

"[Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira was somebody I studied, I wanted to be like Nogueira back in 2001," Mir said. "Somebody I watch now is Fabricio Werdum, he's very tall and is able to do good stuff off his back.

"When people say I'm the best jiu-jitsu guy in MMA, I don't agree with them. I think Werdum is much better than I am at jiu-jitsu, so if we fight each other I hope to make it a kickboxing match!"

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