(“And he’s nothing without his ground-and-pound. And he’s nothing without his groin strikes, which still haunt my nightmares.”)
After Alistair Overeem‘s upset knockout loss to Antonio Silva at UFC 156, it seemed like every MMA fan on Twitter wanted to be the first to say “Called it!” Overeem, as the narrative goes, has a cat-heart, folds under pressure, doesn’t have the cardio to go three 5-minute rounds, his monstrous physique came from unnatural means, it was just a matter of time before he was exposed as a fraud, and everybody knew it all along. Well, you can add Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to the list of notable Reem-haters. As the legendary striker explained in a recent interview with fightsite.hr, he predicted Bigfoot would beat Overeem, partly because Overeem wasn’t fighting with his usual chemical enhancements. Here’s what Mirko had to say (translation via BloodyElbow):
“I wasn’t surprised by Silva’s victory at all and I had believed he would win. I don’t want to come off as a smart-ass or say I knew it all along, so I’ll explain why I’d believed so. First, Silva is a big tough guy with a huge heart who had demolished Fedor and he needs no better reference than that, and Alistair hugely underestimated him and belittled him with his arrogant statements, so this mobilized Silva in the best possible way. Second, Silva is a natural heavyweight, and Alistair — for the first time since way back in 2007, when he began to gain huge weight — fought without the drugs he had used constantly for years, including testosterone and all the other shit that goes with it.
“Watching the weigh-in, I saw that his muscles mass was nowhere near his usual, he had the weight, but he wasn’t nearly as carved out and defined, since he couldn’t take anything because he was watched by the Athletic Commission. This also reflects on the psyche of a man who’s been using stuff to increase his strength, endurance, pain tolerance and aggressiveness for years, and now there was none of that. Alistair is an excellent fighter, but he still owes that excellence to something that’s dirty and unpermitted, and, in the end, very dangerous to health.
“I don’t think he was concerned by that, he wanted success at any cost. And the third thing is, Alistair had behaved so arrogantly that someone needed to put him back in his place. His belittling of Silva was repulsive, saying that after beating up Silva he’d go for the belt, and at the weigh-in and entering the arena he acted like he invented the fighting sport, and he’s been behaving with so much arrogance lately that I’m glad Silva put him back in his place and taught him a lesson! Congratulations Silva, from the heart!”
Considering how their fight in 2008 turned out, it’s understandable that Cro Cop would still hold a bit of a grudge against Overeem. But according to Tim Marchman on TheClassical.org, there’s also a pot-calling-the-kettle-black element to Cro Cop’s hate-rant. (“Kickboxer-with-sprawl who made a rep smashing tiny dudes in Japan fights under commission testing, grows love handles and loses to decent but unremarkable Brazilian heavyweight? Hmm…“)
Then again, Cro Cop is just saying what many fans were already thinking in the wake of Overeem’s loss. Was the Demolition Man’s hype really warranted? How much of his sudden heavyweight success was earned legitimately? And now that he’s competing under such heightened scrutiny from athletic commissions, will he ever be the same fighter again?