(Right eye, hospital. Left eye … uh … hospital. PicProps: Sherdog)
While Dana White and Mirko CroCop didn’t totally get their stories straight over the weekend about the status of the fighter’s injured (or not injured) eyeball, both guys voiced confidence that CroCop will be able to compete in his scheduled UFC 119 main event against Frank Mir on Saturday. Unfortunately, their opinions don’t really matter, as multiple media outlets remind us this week that CroCop will still face a medical exam by the Indiana Gaming Commission before he’s allowed to fight.
The director of the IGC’s athletic division told MMA Junkie on Monday that the UFC/Pride vet will be checked out by doctors both prior to Friday’s weigh-ins and Saturday before the event.
"We’ll have our physicians do our pre-bout physicals," commission official Andy Means said. "They’ll be done before the weigh-ins and again prior to the fights (on Saturday). We’ll do them like we always do."
We can only assume that “like we always do” actually means “we’ll be paying special attention to this one guy’s eye, since we’ve heard there might be a problem.”
In the immediate aftermath of a report from one of Croatia’s largest news portals that CroCop had injured his eye in training, White took to his Twitter to say the 36-year-old was fine and that rumors of his injury were untrue. Then CroCop himself cut an interview with a Croatian sports website saying that he had indeed suffered a poke to the eye, but that he still expected to fight at UFC 119. After that, White amended his statement, saying CroCop had seen an ophthalmologist, and had been “cleared to fight.”
Oddly – and there’s no way to know if he was just responding to a question from MMA Junkie here – on Monday Means was already commenting on the possibility of the UFC finding a replacement for CroCop, if he is deemed unfit to compete.
"We don’t have any problems with substitutions," he said. "We can probably turn around something like that pretty quickly. So as long as they have a license and medical clearance, I don’t see it being a problem … If it’d save the fight, we’d go out of our way to make that happen."
It should be noted that there are four other heavyweights already scheduled to appear at UFC 119 – Matt Mitrione, Joey Beltran, Mark Hunt and Sean McCorkle – so it seems like finding someone to step in for CroCop wouldn’t be that hard. You know a dude as allegedly crazy as Mitrione wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to fight Frank Mir on a day’s notice, assuming Mir is also cool with it. But we’re jumping a gun a bit there, as we really have no choice but to wait for CroCop – who himself was an injury replacement for Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in this fight — to show up in Indiana and get checked out by the docs.