In just a few short months that’s how long Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will have been fighting, but as he approaches his bout against Roy Nelson at UFC 137 has his storied career finally come to a close?
A very reflective Cro Cop speaking to the media at the UFC 137 pre-fight press conference on Thursday says that even if he wins, Saturday night might be his last fight.
Looking back or looking ahead, Cro Cop understands that his best days are probably behind him, and he’s okay moving on to something new in life.
“I wish you could see the new Cro Cop, 15 years younger. I wish it’s possible, but unfortunately I’m 37 and this could easily be my last fight in the UFC. It has nothing to do with the result of the fight,” Cro Cop stated.
“If I win or if I lose, especially if I lose, but even if I win, this could easily be my last fight in the UFC.”
When he moved to the UFC from Pride Fighting Championships, Cro Cop was viewed as one of the most devastating strikers the sport has ever known. A fierce competitor who took home the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix title by smashing current Strikeforce contender Josh Barnett, the Croatian was expected to become an instant title contender in the UFC.
Unfortunately, a myriad of injuries and six surgeries plagued Cro Cop’s UFC career. That coupled with his age have made him look like his fight with Roy Nelson is more of a chance to redeem himself one last time than a chance to get back into any kind of heavyweight title race.
“There is 37 or 38 reasons (why I would walk away after a win), that’s exactly how old I am. It doesn’t mean that I cannot fight anymore, my stamina and conditioning is maybe the best I’ve ever had. I’m 240 (pounds), I’m not fat. I’m trained hard for this fight, six months, and of course I could keep fighting, but every man comes to the point where he asks himself do I need it anymore?” Cro Cop stated.
“I have two sons, two kids at home, and so many things that I would like to discover. Next year in June it will be 20 years from my first fight. I had a long and rich career and I can say successful, not in the UFC, which I will never be able to forgive myself, I just blew it up. When I came to the UFC, they treated me like a king. Even today they treat me like a king, I just didn’t make it.”
Regardless of how Cro Cop views his time in the UFC, his overall career will always be looked at as legendary and one of the most feared and respected fighters in the sport.
At the end of the day, however, for Cro Cop, it’s all about his own happiness and the pursuit for the end of his career to come on his terms.
“I’m completely relaxed especially when I’m aware that this could easily be my last fight maybe. This is the most important fight of my career,” he said.
If Saturday night truly is Cro Cop’s last night in the cage – win, lose, or draw – just about everyone watching UFC 137 will remember him as one of the best ever.
Check out the video from the UFC 137 press conference of Cro Cop talking about his career and retirement…