Concern? Who's concerned? UFC 137 fighter Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic isn't.
The Croatian striker has seen his share of fights spanning over a legendary career that has lasted more than a decade. With that much time in the game, it's safe to say he's tested a lot of different fighting styles and taken what he needs from them to build the best arsenal.
When it comes to his opponent Roy Nelson's grappling, "Cro Cop" isn't any more concerned with that than he was with anyone else he's faced. After all, time in the game translates to experience on the mat, apparently.
The 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix winner wants people to know that he is more than familiar with how to grapple. According to the time line, he's trained in jiu-jitsu longer than some black belts.
When asked, straightforwardly, how concerned his is with Nelson's grappling, "Cro Cop" simply replies, "not much." According to the former Pride standout, If he's submitted guys like Fabricio Werdum, he's not worried about Roy Nelson.
"He's a jiu-jitsu black belt, but the times when fighters were divided (between) stand-up fighters and grapplers [are] history," Filipovic said at the UFC 137 open workouts in Las Vegas. "People forget that I [have] trained jiu-jitsu for 10 years, and had the privilege to train with top jiu-jitsu fighters like Werdum… like Dean Lister.
"With Werdum I trained for three years. So if I was able to submit Werdum in a fight, I don't have to be concerned with (Nelson)."
So does this mean "Cro Cop" will walk to the Octagon on Saturday night with a Team Cro Cop gi and appropriate belt on? No, probably not. He knows what he's paid to do.
While he doesn't want people to sell his ground game short, "Cro Cop" knows that people buy tickets to see him do one thing: strike.
The highlight reels showing Mirko kicking off heads might just be memories at this point, but anything can happen in MMA. There is a sense that people hold onto the slight chance that Filopovic will bring back those highlight reels on Saturday night.
If anything, he'll look to please the crowd just as he's done in years past.
"People expect… and pay (to watch me) kick and punch people, not to submit them. Of course I will submit if I have a chance, but I always prefer to finish a fight in a stand-up position."
"Cro Cop" said that he didn't forget how to punch and kick, that all his recent shortcomings were more from mental issues than physical. Despite those shortcomings, Filipovic still has goals, first of which is beating Roy Nelson on Saturday night.
He may lack concern about Nelson's grappling, but that doesn't mean "Cro Cop" thinks his UFC 137 opponent isn't dangerous. His fellow countryman might be critical of Nelson's frame—and so is "Cro Cop to an extent—but he knows Saturday won't be easy.
The fat-guy routine can be very misleading.
"He's definitely too heavy for his height and his conditioning is his biggest problem," Filipovic said of Nelson. "People in my country will say 'if [you] beat him, you beat a fat guy.' If I lose to him they will start laughing [at] me. But he's a super-dangerous guy who can knock out anyone. Some people might be tricked with his body, but he's a dangerous guy."
Erik Fontanez is a senior writer and reporter for MMAWeekly.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Erik_Fontanez
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