This Saturday at UFC 110, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will make another attempt at proving to the world that he is indeed still able to compete in the sport of mixed martial arts.
The Croatian kickboxer and former Pride star has been in competitive fighting since the last time Wu-Tang Clan released an album that wasn‘t garbage. For those who aren’t familiar with hip hop, Wu-Tang Forever dropped 13 years ago.
When he steps into the world famous octagon this weekend, Cro Cop is facing more than just a 265-pound opponent, but even more so, a crossroad.
Having lost in his last outing to Junior dos Santos at UFC 103 in embarrassing fashion, one cannot ignore the do or die scenario Cro Cop is being projected into for his next fight. The head kick highlight reels are now a thing of the past and the stalker-esque fighting style is no longer the M.O. of the Croatian.
Now with a record of 2-3 in the UFC, Cro Cop is nowhere near the intimidating force he was expected to be when he signed with the Las Vegas-based promotion back in 2007.
An essence of disappointment now lingers amongst the MMA loyal.
It seems that his vicious KO loss to Gabriel Gonzaga was the turning point for Cro Cop. Serving up a dose of his own medicine, Gonzaga delivered a picture perfect head kick to the skull of Filipovic rendering him unconscious and violently turning the ankle to the point where he needed surgery to recover.
It was one of the most gruesome knockouts in MMA history and Cro Cop was on the receiving end—for a change.
For someone who followed Pride Fight Championships, it is a complete turnaround to witness the UFC career of Cro Cop; it is almost unfair. Putting the two tenures side by side is like comparing black and white because of Mirko’s dominance in Pride and lack there of in the UFC.
And for the casual fan hearing about this European guy entering the UFC, they know nothing of his incredible run in the previous five years of the sport. Thankfully, the television show Best of Pride on Spike TV tends to have a Cro Cop fight on almost every episode so people who don’t know, can learn about the lethal past of the legend.
Unfortunately, Cro Cop’s recent past has him getting knocked out by Gonzaga, out-pointed by Cheick Kongo, and verbally submitting to Junior dos Santos.
Verbal submission? Really? When do you see that beyond grade school?
Cro Cop now fights in an unfamiliar timid state.
Since his loss to Gonzaga, it seems Filipovic almost fears being in a fight, yet he continues to subject himself to the punishment like he is in some sort of mid-life crisis. The Croatian openly confessed to contemplating suicide after his loss to dos Santos, so it’s difficult to believe he is in the mental shape to continue fighting at this point in his life.
A fight with someone like Ben Rothwell might be used as something to gauge Cro Cop’s relevance in the sport and the UFC.
If Cro Cop loses to Rothwell this weekend, it could be the last time he graces the octagon. Another promotion—potentially in Japan—might pick up the striker, but the run at heavyweight supremacy will be finished if it isn’t already.
A win for Cro Cop could be a ray of light.
Imagine if Cro Cop still has some kick remaining in that left leg of his. Not since his knockout of Wanderlei Silva four years ago have MMA fans witnessed a fight-ending head kick from Filipovic.
If Rothwell circles to his right for just a moment, and Cro Cop loads up with everything he has left in his 35-year-old frame, there can be one more turning point in the career Mirko Filipovic.
UFC 110 takes place Sunday Feb. 21 in Sydney, Australia which means American fans can catch it at 10pm ET/7pm PT live on Pay-Per-View.