(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
After Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic‘s ugly loss to Junior Dos Santos at UFC 103 on Saturday, it was clear that his will to win has eroded even more than his skills as a fighter. For two-and-a-half rounds, we saw a backpedaling, hesitant, shadow of Cro Cop’s former self get outstruck by someone he would have murdered three years ago. It was obviously the end of the line for Filipovic as a relevant competitor — and nobody sees that as clearly as Mirko himself. As he told jutarnji.hr (translated by Robert K. at bigoddsmike.com):
I fucked up and that’s all there is to it. Maybe the ones who I’ve said that I’m done are right. Obviously I can’t break my mental block in the Octagon. Besides, I’ve been training like a spartan for 20 years now, my body is worn out. The years caught up to me, I’ve been worn out…I want a normal life. I’m entering a cage and thinking about fishing in Privlaka
. You can’t win that way.
As he saw it, the stoppage-due-to-blindness was just a speeding up of the inevitable:
Dos Santos punched me in the eye and tore my eye-lid. Blood and sweat completely blurred my vision. I was standing there like a blind man. At one moment I confused my opponent and the referee…I didn’t ask the judge to stop [the fight]. But it wasn’t an early stoppage, he won that fight and would have won it by decision. Simply put he is younger, more hungry, more aggressive. He wanted to win a lot more…The mat was slippery like glass. I almost fell down trying to do the left high kick. But I’m not looking for an alibi. This was not the performance the public would pay for. I don’t feel the hunger anymore. I started playing it safe, I’m not ready to take risks.
So that’s it, then. Don’t expect to see Cro Cop grace the Octagon with his disappointing presence ever again, and if he decides to take a couple more fights in Japan before his official returment, understand that he’ll only doing it for the money. His last line in the jutarnji.hr interview says it all: "Maybe I should’ve quit after I won [Pride's] Open Weight Grand Prix."