Speculation surrounding Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s participation in this weekend’s UFC 119 main event, where he is scheduled to face former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, was raised last week by Croatian website index.hr. The site raised red flags by reporting that Cro Cop had suffered a serious eye injury in his final sparring session that might have precluded him from fighting Saturday night in Indianapolis.
UFC president Dana White immediately went on the defensive saying that Cro Cop was fine, the fight is on, stop listening to rumors.
But just as quickly as his comments threw a wet blanket on the fire, Cro Cop did an interview at the airport in Croatia, saying that he had suffered an injury, but felt that he would be alright to fight, he’d just have to “suck it up.”
There was enough concern that Cro Cop was required to have the eye checked once he arrived in Indianapolis in order to receive clearance for the fight with Mir.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship acknowledged as much on Tuesday, proclaiming Cro Cop clear to fight, and admitting to the initial injury.
“Legendary Croatian striker Mirko Cro Cop has been examined by an ophthalmologist in Indianapolis, site of Saturday’s UFC 119 event at Conseco Fieldhouse, and has been medically cleared to compete in the main event this weekend against former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir,” read a statement on UFC.com.
“Cro Cop suffered a poke in the eye in the last round of his final sparring session for the bout last week, but after a few days of rest, he is in tip top shape for this pivotal battle of heavyweight contenders.”
Cro Cop stepped into the UFC 119 main event on only five weeks notice when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mir’s original opponent, had to withdraw due to injuries requiring hip surgery. He admitted that it is a short cycle of preparation, but that he was willing to take the fight under such conditions, and would “do his best.”
The eye injury and accompanying media distraction from the fallout can only detract from the preparation that Cro Cop has undergone, but the fight is nonetheless green-lit for Saturday night in Indianapolis and on pay-per-view.