Former PRIDE and UFC star Mirko Cro Cop last fought in October of last year when he met Roy Nelson at UFC 137. In a discouraging site for fans, the Croatian was knocked out for the third consecutive time and announced his retirement after the contest.
While it was sad to see an influential star hang up his gloves, fans were happy that their hero would no longer be woken up by a cageside physician shining a flashlight in his eyes.
In an interview with USAToday.com, Filipovic announced that he is still training in the sport and envisions a return to the world of mixed martial arts.
"Concerning my retirement from the UFC, I said it was my last fight for the UFC and last fight on the present contract, but I did not say, 'I won't keep fighting,' " Filipovic said. "I never said that. I think the best thing to say is that I was born to fight."
After undergoing surgery to fix some torn muscles and tendons in his arm, the head-kick legend returned to a career in kickboxing and has put together a 2-0 record under the K-1 banner since his retirement. Reportedly, the heavyweight feels like a brand new fighter.
"I feel like a little kid," Filipovic said. "I'm so happy. I'm training every day. I usually train twice a day, and Thursdays and Sundays are supposed to be my days off. But even on those days I'm training at least once. I have to do at least one session each day to be happy."
In October, Cro Cop will fight again for K-1 in a World Grand Prix with a $1 million prize. After the tournament concludes, the police officer believes that he will reenter the world of MMA.
"If you ask me, when I look deep into my soul, of course I would like to fight MMA again," Filipovic said. "People don't get it. Martial arts is my life."
The former PRIDE star had trouble "pulling the trigger" after joining the UFC roster, leaving many to question why the stone-cold fighter had become tentative inside the cage. That issue led to knockout losses to Frank Mir, Brendan Schaub and Nelson.
Even before those nasty stoppages, Cro Cop had considered hanging up his gloves for good. However, less than one year after his retirement, it doesn't seem like the 37-year-old has decided to call it a day.
"My motivation now is to prove to everyone that I'm still capable of being in the cage. I'm not old. I'm 37, but I can do things that fighters 10 years younger cannot.
I will prove that, or I will die trying."
While his final quote is clearly a figure of speech, it isn't the first time that he has made the bold statement. Prior to his UFC 137 fight, Filipovic said that he would be the old Cro Cop or die trying.
No word from Zuffa or Bellator on whether they are interested in signing the Croatian mega-star, but stay tuned to Bleacher Report for more on the story as it breaks.