Opinion: The Return of ‘Cro Cop’
By Jesse Heitz
Over the last few days, several news outlets have reported that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is set to make his return to Mixed Martial Arts in November. He’ll be facing fellow Pride veteran, and the briefly retired, Aleksander Emelianenko in his native Russia. After that, it’s reported that he’ll be facing Satoshi Ishii in Japan in December.
To be sure, Filipovic isn’t making his grand return to MMA with a bout against a former highlight-reel knockout victim. In reality, Filipovic was only retired from MMA for a brief 14 months, before he decided to take himself off the shelf and enter a fight with Shinichi Suzukawa, defeating him by submission in the first round. So, technically Filipovic has been inactive as of late rather than retired.
Posted below (roughly translated) is an interview that “Cro Cop” had with the Croatian combat sports website, Fight Site,
In an exclusive interview with Fight Site, Cro Cop has announced a return to the MMA ring. He started the interview by answering a question about how the Emelianenko fight materialized following his come-from-behind domination of the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix, stating,
“Given that last year was a very tiring and it ended in the best possible way, I decided to take a break and two months not to think about the next battle. Course, for me, home means to train at least once a day. This was never a problem, it will always work but the struggles honestly did not think. “
“For the last twenty days Orsat Zovko my manager informed me that intensive talks about some options. Besides appearances in Inoki, who should be our standard engagement after the last New Year’s Eve is negotiating with the Russian owner of the Legend. Match was last week successfully negotiated.”
Filipovic then responded to questions about what makes this upcoming fight attractive, and what preparations he’s now beginning to engage in, stating,
“The opponent is attractive, Moscow is also an interesting place for the match and apparently it will be a real spectacle. Ruslan Suleiman has already demonstrated that for the world’s top producing his last show which included performances and Badr Hari and Alexander Emelianenko was superb. So there is no reason to doubt that it will, and this time try to show a worldwide audience the ultimate event.”
“From now starting to concentrate on this match. As usual by now I promise to give my best.”
To conclude the interview, Filipovic was asked if his combat sports involvement for 2013 would revolve around MMA exclusively, to which he replied,
“No, there is an option and performance in kick boxing. And it’s open. Waiting owner K-1, Mike Kim, to comment on its plans. But also we have to agree to our options at this time for sure.”
As anyone who regularly read my pieces knows, I’m an avid fan of the legends. I’ll pull for them each and every time they enter the cage or ring. However, I do not enjoy watching legends, the fighters that were once human wrecking machines, virtually unbeatable in their primes, get battered and utterly destroyed with upsetting regularity. At this point, despite my reluctance to admit it, “Cro Cop” is one of those fighters.
All of this makes it puzzling that people, and they are out there, who are tossing around the idea that Filipovic should make a return to a prominent MMA promotion, some have even asked the question if the UFC is a possible landing spot. Sure, he beat an unknown fighter in Suzukawa, and captured the 2012 K-1 Grand Prix Title. Yet, let’s face the music, he’s 38 years old and between 40 some MMA bouts and an equal number of professional kickboxing bouts, he’s physically logged some incredibly taxing miles. His last stint in the UFC concluded with him being scraped off the canvas in three consecutive fights.
I’m happy that “Crop Cop” found tremendous success in his former stomping grounds of K-1. However, I don’t think that he’ll achieve anywhere near such a level of success if he steps into the cage with the crop of heavyweight talent that resides within the premier promotions. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was once the most feared heavyweight in the world. His left head kick toppled many great fighters and instilled fear in countless others. He was once a destroyer of the world’s best, why re-enter the arena after his prime and serve as either a “can crusher” or a gatekeeper for rising talent?
There may be more life left in Filipovic’s kickboxing career, but MMA is a different animal. That day has come and gone. In my humble opinion, Filipovic has done enough in the MMA world, he’s one of the greatest heavyweights in the sport’s history, there’s nothing left to prove.