Mir provides tough test for Dos Santos

Frank Mir's improvement beyond jiu-jitsu makes him a tough foe for Junior dos Santos in UFC 146.

Eurosport

Mir has had two stints as the UFC heavyweight champion and can make it a third Saturday if he manages to defeat Dos Santos at the MGM Grand Garden in the main event of UFC 146.

Mir is much better than the 22-year-old who made his UFC debut in 2001 at UFC 34. He's a versatile fighter who presents all sorts of matchup problems to his opponent and who can't be fairly cast simply as a jiu-jitsu fighter any more.

Mir's development from a jiu-jitsu fighter who didn't have much of a shot if a fight remained standing to a complete mixed martial artist who can win in any way is the blueprint Dan Hardy uses as he is rebuilding his career.

Hardy will meet Duane Ludwig on the preliminary card at UFC 146 in a three-round welterweight bout. He's coming off four consecutive losses and hasn't fought since being submitted by Chris Lytle in August in Lytle's retirement match.

Hardy is training in Las Vegas with Mir – as well as UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta – and is using Mir's progression as a motivating factor for him.

"I've been a fan ever since the UFC has been around, and seeing Frank from a fan's point of view and watching him achieve great things at a young age, was inspiring," Hardy said. "He won the belt and he's become a technically well-rounded guy. In the heavyweight division, guys tend to dominant in one area.

"Now, I'm in the gym with him and I see his work ethic and his hunger for knowledge, it's been quite inspirational. You get into the gym with a lot of guys and they become quite stagnant. They're quite resistant to adapt. They reach the top level and they don't feel they can be a student. They feel they've mastered it. Frank works diligently every day to improve and that's what I need at this stage. I need to be better tomorrow than I am today and I have to have an open mind to learn new things. Being around Frank has been great for me in that regard."

Hardy has lost four in a row, but it's not like he's lost four in a row to Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. He was beaten by welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, Anthony Johnson and Lytle.

Johnson couldn't even make middleweight in his last UFC fight and Lytle put everything he had into his retirement bout.

Hardy has done things the right way and turned down several opportunities to fight since the loss to Lytle because he wanted to work on improving his game.

He's eager to get back and show off what he's learned. He said he was a fan of Ludwig's from back in the days when Ludwig was starring in King of the Cage, but he's expecting to win a fun battle.

"He's been in there with the best of the best," Hardy said. "He's a tough fighter and he's had good performances. He always fights at a high pace and he's a very well-rounded kick boxer. He's great at every range and I know he's coming to fight.

"Personally, I think I beat him at every range, but it's something that only my coaches and myself believe at this point. I have to prove that to everyone else and I can wait to do so."

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