Saturday October 29th, 2011 at UFC 137 Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović stepped into the octagon for the last time against Roy “Big Country” Nelson. This date should be marked in Croatian sports history as the last time we see the Croatian legend step into a professional mixed martial arts fight. Unfortunately, Mirko did not leave the sport with a victory.
“I want to fight like a lion, like I did in my Pride days”
~Mirko Filipović – Pre-Fight Interview
Round one could have been scored 10-9 for either combatant as it was a very close round. Big Country made first contact landing his patented overhand right, but the Croatian responded well. Mirko maintained his distance and was able to find his range mid round, using his straight left and landing body kicks to Nelsons body. Nelson responded with a take-down and worked his ground and pound as Filipović defended well to end the round.
In the beggining of the second stanza, Cro Cop unleashed a barrage of solid uppercuts to a defending Nelson against the fencing of the octagon. The Croatian seemed to have control of the fight but the Las Vegas native was able to take all that the Croatian had to offer. Big Country proved he has one of the best chins in the business by withstanding the flurry from the 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix Champ. The round ended with Nelson on top in a crucifix position landing numerous unanswered shots to Filipović’s head.
“[I had to] hit him and make him pay,” said Nelson. “The second round, I hit him hard and I thought I had him. Then he hit me, and he put me on defense real fast. So I put him on his back, and there wasn’t much offense after that.”
~Roy “Big Country” Nelson – Post Fight Interview
Round three was the final curtain call for the Croatian legend. As the round started it was apparent Cro Cop had not recovered totally from the strikes he took in round 2. Nelson took control early and was able to take Mirko’s back and land several unanswered shots until the referee stepped in to end the bout at the 1:30 mark of the third round.
“It’s good to just be back in the [win] column,” Nelson said. “It’s sad to see Cro Cop is done, but all I know is that if he doesn’t want to retire, he’s still got fight left in him. He hits hard and he can still bang around, and he can tear it up with the rest of them.”
~Roy “Big Country” Nelson – Post Fight Interview
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović leaves this sport with a record of 29 wins, 10 losses and 2 draws. Cro Cop will be remembered as one of the most feared strikers to ever compete in mixed martial arts. At one time the Croatian legend was regarded as one of the top fighters in the world but he was never able to rekindle that success in the UFC. The Croats biggest accomplishment was being crowned the 2006 Pride FC Open Weight Grand Prix Champion. The Vinkovci native’s impact on the sport of mixed martial arts is remarkable for a fighter who began training on his own in his parents garage. Filipović’s days fighting in Japan for the Pride FC brand will be written in MMA history books . The bottom line is Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović was one of the best this sport has ever seen and he should be regarded as one of the top sports figures to ever come out of Croatia. Long live the legacy of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović and farewell to the Croatian Fighting Legend.
“‘Cro Cop’ has been a good guy since the day we signed him,” White said. “Again, a guy who’s a warrior, a legend and has done tons of great things in the sport. I know he’s very disappointed with his run in the UFC, but I said it to you guys at the (pre-event) press conference before: I’m 42. At 38, to still be out there fighting with guys that are a lot younger and faster and more explosive than you?
~Dana White – Post Fight Interview
I have included a few links to various Cro Cop highlight videos. Enjoy!
“I got into the dressing room, and I got in there a little bit earlier than normal to wrap their hands,” Duran said. “‘Cro Cop’ and I literally sat there for a good five minutes and just chatted. It’s something I never really have had – and probably a lot of people haven’t had – the opportunity to do.
“The first thing I asked him is, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ He says, ‘Spend my money.’ Then he turns his chair around, and we’re making eye contact and talking, and he says, ‘You know, ‘Stitch,’ I’m tired. Today is 20 years from the time that I had my first fight. My body is beat up. I’ve had six surgeries. I got cut six weeks ago in training. I’m tired.'”
~Jacob”Stitch”Duran Interview with MMA JUNKIE
If you did not see the fight Saturday night it can be viewed at this link.
~Mike “The Croatian Crippler” Rožić
Lovren injured against real
These articles are great. I dont have to spend $$ to watch the PPV you give a great play by play it felt like I was there! Do you think you would ever meet CROCOP? And what is your take on the other Croatian fighters/trainers??
Mirko gave it a good effort but he just doesnt have the vicious strikes anymore or enough tools in his arsenal to finish a cement head like Nelson.
Either way, he’s still a legend.
Bravo Mirko, and hold your head high!
@Golden Child Yes he did end up putting a cage in his training facility. You are a luckier man then me if you got to meet Mirko lol.
I’m not sure if he will be training new fighters but I’m sure he won’t stop training. I know he said his oldest son is training already so maybe there will be a new Cro Cop soon enough.
Man, i miss prideFC, too bad fuji t.v. cancelled the contract because of the yakuza involvement rumour with pride management. But it was good while it lasted, and it definetly was the premier MMA organization in its heyday, with a deeper and more talented roster than its rival UFC.
At least i still have my tapes and memories of what was a great era in MMA.
Yes, i think your right. If only mirko prepared himself a little more for the changes, and treated it a bit more serious, his UFC stint could have looked a lot different.
And yes those elbows really did a number on him against gonzaga, because once back on his feet, you could see they really disoriented mirko, and that left him more susceptible to that high right kick from gonzaga.
Thank you for that. I remember him talking about the cage being an issue, and I think he even put a cage in his training facility to make things better on him. Met him in 2007 in LA, and the guy was a class act. Hope we have another legend come through the ranks in Croatia.
Any chance the Mirko will take his talents to coaching new fighters?
@ Golden Child The biggest thing that affected Crocop early in his UFC career was the cage compared to the ring. A lot of guys don’t understand that all Mirko did was fight in a ring all his career not a cage. There is a lot of diferrences such as space,angles used, footwork, ability to hold someone against the cage just to name a few. It affects all fighters differently but I think it really affected Mirko early on in his UFC career and made him uncomfortable fighting in the cage.
The different rules could of made a difference, because of the addition of elbows in the ufc and the inability to kick or knee a downed opponent. Mirko used soccer kicks and knees in a lot of his fights.He could not do that in the UFC.
It would also force a lot of fighters to have to strike more.They couldn’t just try and tie a guy up on the cage, or try for unsuccesfull takedowns as there was a chance to be kneed or kicked while down.
I’d say your roomate was right to a degree but I think ultimately age and the mental game caught up with Mirko. I think if he prepared himself for the changes early in his UFC career it might of looked a lot different.
Wish him all the best. Everybody has to retire one time or another. I used to love watching him beat the snot out of guys. I was and still am proud to be a fan of CroCop, but he needed to stop before things got worse.
My roommate used to train with the Gracies, who set up shop here in Torrance, CA. He was also sad to see CroCop go from hero to zero. He was explaining that fighters like Gracie, CroCop, and other guys coming out of Pride and anything prior to UFC were used to a lot less rules. He said the rules in the UFC stifle what most of the fighters want to do when the make the transition. Is this at all true? Do you think it screwed with Cro Cop? Another thing was cage vs ring. I know he mentioned it before, but what’s the biggest difference between the two, and how badly does it affect fighters?
Apparently he isn’t fully retired. The rumour is he is going to have his retirement fight December 11th in Zagreb and is looking for an opponent. He supposedly wants to end it in Hrvatska. Here is the link if you can read Croatian.
thankfully it is over. Don’t want to tarnish your legacy based off your most recent fights (unfortunately that is what stays in people’s minds)
I can watch that fight between Cro-Cop and Fedor over and over…Never gets boring
i watched the fight and he was doing alright in the second but after he unleased all the punches on him when nelson was on the defense it looked like he had no stamina left for the fight…