by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
How would any top fighter do without their best weapon? Chuck Liddell with no right hand, or B.J. Penn with no jab? Seems to take away a lot of what gives those fighters the best opportunity to do what they do.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has secretly been competing under the same scenario, but just hasn’t bothered to tell anyone about it. Two years ago the Croatian suffered a serious knee injury that forced surgery, and a long rehab. During that time, Cro Cop just so happened to take several fights against doctor’s orders and the result was almost no kicks from a fighter with a highlight reel littered with bone rattling knockouts from kicks.
The former Pride Grand Prix champion talked about the injury recently and came clean about the fact that it certainly affected his ability to unload that vicious kicking attack he’s known for.
“I had a very bad injury two years ago. My leg was broken, the knee was completely broken,” revealed Cro Cop. “I had three surgeries for the knee, and of course it reflected on my kicking.”
Cro Cop admits that the injury and subsequent surgery weighed on his mind come fight time, and fear played a major factor in not throwing his weight behind a kick, or even kicking at all during a fight.
“I was afraid to kick,” he admitted. “Especially, (when) it was still very fresh, but I decided to take the risk for the Cologne (Germany) fight one year ago. Because the wound was still fresh, it was only less than six months after the surgery, so it was suicide according to the doctor, but I decided to take the fight. And I decided to take another fight with (Junior) Dos Santos, which wasn’t a smart idea in that condition, but I’m just a fighter. I like the sport. I like fighting. I like competition.”
Seeing the results made Cro Cop realize that he has to make better decisions in regards to taking fights, no matter how much he wants to step in there and compete.
“Obviously, you need to make decisions with your head, not with your heart,” Cro Cop stated.
Just eight weeks ago was when he was finally back to full power with his kicks, and he says if you look at his past fights in the UFC there’s virtually no kicking in his last few bouts.
“Two months ago I start with the full kicking, and yeah you were right, if you notice I didn’t even try to do kicks with my German opponent Mostapha Al-Turk. I tried only once to kick Junior Dos Santos because I didn’t feel very stable in kicking. I didn’t feel my leg move, so I didn’t kick at all,” said Cro Cop.
The whole ordeal was a trial for the Croatian, but he’s quick to point out that it was his decision to fight, and his alone, and for that there’s no blame or excuses to be made.
“Of course it frustrated me a lot, but it was my decision to enter the cage. It was my decision to accept the fight; nobody forced me,” Cro Cop stated. “Thank God it’s behind me now and the legs are okay now.
“(It’s) finally, completely recovered. It was a hard injury. It really took time. Now it’s one and a half years since I had the operation, now it’s finally okay.”
Could the head-kicking machine return at UFC 115? Cro Cop will be the one to answer that question when he faces Pat Barry in Vancouver.