The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s wrestler Bella Mir uses MMA background to her advantage

The daughter of UFC Champion Frank Mir is ready to show her abilities on the mat in the Hawkeyes’ inaugural season.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa’s 143-pound Bella Mir poses for a portrait during the inaugural Iowa women’s wrestling media day at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Iowa women’s wrestler Bella Mir is no stranger when it comes to combat sports.

Her father, Frank Mir, was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and fought in the promotion for 16 years. 

Following in her father’s footsteps, Mir abandoned softball in high school and pursued jiu-jitsu and wrestling. She was a four-time state wrestling champ at Centennial High School in Nevada. 

Mir made her mixed martial arts debut in 2020. At 17 years old, the Las Vegas product defeated Danielle Wynn by unanimous decision in the International Fighting Federation (IFF) promotion.

After her second win in the IFF against Alma Cespedes, Mir got promoted to the Xtreme Fighting League in 2022. There she stayed unbeaten and took down Jessica Link-Davis via armbar. 

Mir then shifted to a wrestling-only mindset — an easy transition since MMA and wrestling have similar practices and mindsets. 

“It’s mostly the mentality,” Mir said. “MMA mentality is knowing you are in a fight and closed off in a cage. It’s life or death. That mentality carries off into wrestling. Just knowing that I am in a dogfight. Or I’m getting this takedown. Or I’m getting this win. Whatever I have to do to make that match in my favor, I am willing to do it.”

Initially, Mir wasn’t focused on a collegiate wrestling career. Her plan was to not attend college and pursue a fighting career like her father. But her mentality changed after she qualified for the 2023 U20 World Championships and placed 5th. 

“Every goal that happens in wrestling happens in the earlier years,” Mir said. “I want to make sure I have every goal I want to check off of wrestling before I continue my life of fighting. There was a time where I didn’t even want to go to college for wrestling because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I’m kinda split in between both worlds.”

Mir said wrestling changed her life when she came to Iowa. Seeing the progress she was making gave her the confidence to stick with the sport.

Changing from an individual to a more team-based sport wasn’t easy for Mir. The biggest challenge was going from one type of sport to the other. 

“I think the biggest learning curve was being apart of an actual team,”  Mir said.  “Of course, I still have my team back home, but not a team that is here with me every single day and every practice. Just that grind that we all have together I think has to be the biggest learning curve for me.”

With the season coming up in just over two weeks, Mir is excited to finally give the fans and the country a taste of what the Hawkeyes can achieve. 

“Honestly what excites me the most about this Iowa program is being a part of this team,” Mir said. “There has never been a division one team like us in the Power Five. All across the board, we are on top of the country. I am just so excited to show up with my team.”

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About the Contributors
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.