Mirko Cro Cop Acknowledges 'Huge Mental Barrier' During UFC Stint

McKinley Noble@KenTheGreat1Correspondent IOctober 18, 2012

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 21: A pensive Mirko Cro Cop of Croatia walks to the octagon before fighting Gabriel Gonzaga of USA in a Heavyweight bout of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Manchester Evening News Arena on April 21, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic admits that his head wasn't in the game during his UFC career, citing that his mental state often caused him to freeze up in the Octagon.

As Cro Cop tells Fighters Only Magazine, he's not only planning to win his first K-1 title, but also aims to return to mixed martial arts before retiring:

"I am very pleased with the fight despite the fact that the fight did not get the finish. For the first time since Pride I was aggressive and attacked constantly; in past years that has not been the case. In the UFC I had a feeling that I was 'frozen' and mostly I moved away [from opponents], I had a huge mental barrier. Why I cannot explain it any more than that doesn’t matter. 

"I think I've managed to eliminate the things that are bothering me, both mentally and physically, but no more about it because it was a really strange and complicated story. I feel great, physically and mentally, and I think I'll take the belt at the end in spite of everything and everyone. And yes, next year I will be perforating in MMA again."

During the 10 years that Cro Cop spent fighting in K-1 Grand Prix tournaments and PRIDE, the imposing Croatian was deemed by many to be one of the most dangerous heavyweight fighters in combat sports.

All that changed during his two UFC runs, where Cro Cop suffered six losses in 12 fights—the most violent of which being a fierce head kick knockout at the hands of Gabriel Gonzaga during UFC 70. However, the lowest point in Cro Cop's career arguably came after his loss to Frank Mir at UFC 119, a fight that was panned by critics and fans alike.

Cro Cop would fare better in back-and-forth fights against Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub, but nonetheless left the UFC on his first three-fight losing streak.

Coming off two wins in separate kickboxing events this year, Cro Cop is currently competing in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 Tournament, where he won his first-round fight in the bracket against formerly-undefeated American kickboxer Randy Blake.