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Win or lose, Mir won't retire at UFC 169

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Despite a recent three-fight losing streak, Frank Mir believes the hardships have made him stronger © Getty Images
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Frank Mir says he has no plans of retiring in Newark, New Jersey.

Mir (16-8) will try to end a three-fight losing streak when he meets Alistair Overeem during the main card of UFC 169 on Saturday at the Prudential Center.

Regardless of the outcome, Mir, 34, says he can't even fathom this fight could be his last, and he's less than convinced the UFC would cut ties with him should he lose.

The former heavyweight champion is comfortable heading into the match-up, despite his recent skid. In fact, he views his losing streak differently than some others.

"I kind of know no matter what it's not going to be my last fight," Mir told ESPN. "I'm still younger than a lot of the guys in the division.

"There are two ways I would consider retirement. One is losing to guys who are not top-level competition. The other is if I started losing where it's like, 'OK man, you were knocked out viciously and staring at the rafters.' I won't endanger my health."

Mir is steadfast in his belief that neither of those scenarios is currently playing out. He still shakes his head at referee Rob Hinds' decision to stop his most recent bout against Josh Barnett in the first round at UFC 164 after he absorbed a knee along the fence.

The other two losses - to Daniel Cormier and Junior dos Santos - were disappointing for Mir, but not inexcusable. And in no way evidence that his career is over.

"I'm sorry if those three losses aren't killing my ego," Mir said. "Let's see, the losing streak started with Junior dos Santos, the No. 1 heavyweight in the world at the time. Then I lost to Cormier in a pretty boring fight and then to Barnett, which to me was a no-contest because the fight had a very controversial stoppage.

"Look at who I've fought. I should retire? Wow. We'd only have five guys in every weight class, because everybody else would need to retire."

Frank Mir openly disagrees with referee Rob Hinds' decision to stop his fight against Josh Barnett © Getty Images
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As far as his health goes, Mir is even less concerned. He has been on the receiving end of seven knockout losses in his career, but he swears he was not "badly hurt" in the most recent one to Barnett.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission requested Mir undergo additional brain tests for precautionary reasons last year when the UFC initially wanted to book his fight against Overeem at UFC 167 in November.

Mir agreed and says he passed every exam with no issues, although the fight was eventually moved to February anyway.

The delay actually produced several benefits, none bigger than the addition of former UFC heavyweight James McSweeney (12-11) to Mir's camp. McSweeney, who fights out of Las Vegas, has trained alongside Overeem in the past.

"McSweeney is a guy who was trained by the same trainer as Alistair," Mir said. "I really don't think I could find a better person to simulate him."

In addition to McSweeney, Travis Browne (16-1-1) was a part-time presence in Mir's camp. He was in Las Vegas for the final week of preparations before Mir flew to Newark. Browne (16-1-1) knocked out Overeem at UFC Fight Night 26 in August.

Like Mir, Overeem (36-13) is also battling a losing streak, having been stopped in consecutive fights by Antonio Silva and Browne. But as far as an opponent to try and bounce back against, Mir says he hasn't exactly been given a gimme fight.

That can be a problem when you're a former champion who sells tickets. A nice easy win over a no-name opponent might have been a good way to boost confidence. Mir claims, however, he's happy the UFC never steered him that way. The losses have made him grow as a martial artist.

"I prefer this route that I've taken," Mir said. "These hardships have made me stronger."

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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