Ahh, finally. Mirko Cro Cop has finally giving his side of the story regarding the UFC-DREAM situation in an interview with index.hr.
According to Mirko, being 35 years old, it basically comes down to how often he can fight, not money, and the potential opportunity to avenge his the loss from the biggest fight of his career against Fedor Emelianenko. Cro Cop isn’t taking anything back about wanting to fight in the UFC and make a run for title, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines waiting for his next fight when he can basically fight on any card he wants in Japan.
Cro Cop also says he doesn’t see why he can’t fight in Japan a couple more times then come back to the UFC. Josh Gross reported earlier today that Cro Cop is very close to signing the DREAM deal, so it sounds like that’s what he’s trying to do, but unless he gets things smoothed over with Dana, the chances of him being invited back into the UFC again seem slim.
Big props to Dr. Mitch at MMA Cube for translating the interview.
SO WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
The problem is I’m 35 and I’m finally healthy. UFC is offering me a fight 6 months from now. Even before UFC 99 I said that won’t work for me, but they said something like they’re gonna change it. I said even before that I wanna fight 3 more times this year, I don’t really care if it’s in the ring or Octagon.
JAPANESE HAVE BETTER OFFER?
I’m a big star in Japan and I can be on every card I want there. I have a lot of fans there who want me to return. They offer me way more fights and more often, and there is always a possibility that a fight with Fedor could occur – that is my priority.
WHAT ABOUT “I DON’T KNOW IF I’LL WIN THE UFC BELT BUT I’LL DIE TRYING“?
I still stand behind my words and I know the best fighters are in the UFC. I want that belt so much, but if they’re offering me the next fight in 6 months I don’t see how I could take it. I said that when i thought things will go in another direction. That belt is still my goal – but I want to have a couple of fights in a next few months.
DID YOU SIGN WITH ANY ORG? DANA LOST HIS TEMPER AND SAID YOU TRICKED HIM
The thing was blown out of proportion. All of this, besides being a sport is a big business too. They know in the UFC I did my part of the deal so I don’t think we’ll have any problems. I haven’t signed nothing yet with any org, and as I said – I’m prepared to talk with both sides. I’ve never been in a sweeter yet more difficult position. Dream offers me more fights, but at the other hand I’m aware of the quality that is in the UFC.
AND WHAT NOW?
I really don’t know. I have to consider it and see. I don’t see why I wouldn’t fight in Japan a few fights and then return to UFC. That is also an option. What matters is that I feel great physically. I can almost say never felt better.
HOW DID IT FEEL TO FIGHT IN KOELN?
Magnificent. Really great. Checkerd items all around, Croatian flags, everybody cheering. I almost felt bad for my opponent at one time cause thy were booing him. I would like to fight again in that kind of atmosphere. I’ve felt like home. That is the stuff that keeps me in training, adrenaline is undescribable. I wouldn’t change that for nothing.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE, IF WE DON’T TAKE IN CONSIDERATION THAT YOU’RE NOT READY 100% YET?
I’m very pleased all things considering. You saw I didn’t throw one kick, and that is my biggest weapon- I knew that before the fight and i focused only on my wrestling and boxing. My leg is OK, but I’m still afraid of rotations. In a few months it will be ok completely. I’m at 50% now.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF AL TURK? IS HE A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE SURPRISE?
He had a positive impact on me. He started very strong, with wide crosses, trying to get to my chin. Then he tried to shoot for my legs, but I shruged him off easily. He didn’t have to do that thing with the eye though.
DIDN’T YOU HIT HIM WITH YOUR FINGER IN HIS EYE?
I did. But it was not a strong hit. I literally brushed him. It was more of pushing him away and he just ran in to it. I looked at the judge and he said to keep going. I’m here to fight, right? But there is not a chance that played an important role. He was nearly finished from my strikes before that.
DID YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS FIGHTS IN UFC? WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT TODAY? DID THAT KO FROM GONZAGA PASSED TROUGH YOU HEAD?
I didn’t think about it and I don’t regret anything. I entered the cage then motivated by money, not my desire to win. Today is a different story. Besides, I improved a lot. Especially in my wrestling tehniques, my cardio and strenght. And about that KO – it’s not a shame to go down, it’s a shame not to get up.
YOU SAY YOU IMPROVED YOUR WRESTLING – WHY DON’T YOU FIGHT MORE IN THE GROUND?
Primarily I’m a striker. But as I said, I worked at my ground game and my throws a lot. Without any false modesty I can say I’m now very good at it. You saw how i tossed Al-Turk twice when he tried to take me down. I’m gonna use that skills a lot more in the future.
NO MATTER WHERE DO YOU FIGHT – WHO ARE THE FIGHTERS YOU WAN’T TO FIGHT?
Fedor is my eternal wish, my biggest challenge. In the UFC I would like to get a chance of a rematch with Nog, and I would like to fight Randy cause he’s a legend. But if you want the belt you have to fight the best so I don’t really care. This Velasquez guy has much potential as a fighter.
YOU SAID FEDOR IS YOUR WISH. YOU THINK THINGS WOULD BE ANY DIFFERENT NOW?
I think they would. I have exact tactics in my head and I think I would win this time. Before the first fight I had a lot of problems. I was excelently prepared but I got there too soon and I haven’t slept for 7 days. I was pulling my mouthpiece out after 3 minutes allready. Today is a different story.
YOU ARE MORE READY TODAY?
Much more. All test show I have a body of a 25 year old man. My cardio is of the charts, I have 233 lbs of muscle and I’ve never been stronger.
After hearing Mirko’s side of the story, at least in my opinion, he doesn’t seem like quite the bastard we thought he was when Iole’s report came out Saturday night. If he merely wants to fight as often as he can while he’s still healthy and young enough to do so, and the only way to do that is stay in Japan, then I can respect him for that. But if this is all about DREAM offering more money when he said he’s no longer motivated by money, then it becomes a much tougher pill to swallow. Like I said before, I couldn’t care less if he lied to Dana White and the UFC (if he even did), but lying to us fans is something different entirely, and now I’m not quite so sure that’s what happened.
Image courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com
Update: Fightlinker found a bunch of chatter going on in the Nokaut forums.
The Nokaut forum (a great place for insider info on what Crocop is up to as it’s full of Croatians and several guys from Mirko’s camp) is in the middle of an Iran-like uprising as people shit all over Mirko for picking easy fights and running back to Japan. In his defense, former Mirko cornerman Fortunal has stated the issues are a lack of a guaranteed title shot in the first contract even if Mirko wins all his fights, and the frequency of fights the UFC is willing to commit to.
Update II: Iole’s sticking to his story.
I think you should definitely retract your report on Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic leaving the UFC, especially the way you made it seem like Mirko was the bad guy. Mirko responded to these rumors and said, “I don’t know why Dana fell for the hype and rumors before talking to me. I hoped we could talk to continue working together, and the only problematic thing is how long I have to wait between the fights. I don’t want to sit at home for months and wait for somebody to call me to fight. I’m grateful for the opportunity in Cologne, and despite Dana’s harsh words, I’m ready to prolong my contract.”
Cro Cop is absolutely, 100 percent going to fight in DREAM. His quotes were an attempt to save face, because he did not realize that media knew about the situation. He plans to run for political office again in his native Croatia when his fighting days are done and doesn’t want a story in the public that he went back on his word. That, of course, is exactly what he did. He is going to fight for DREAM in July, September and on New Year’s Eve, barring injuries. Bank on that. And also bank on the fact that he will never fight in the UFC again.
It’s basically believe who/what you want at this point. I’m not too confident we’ll ever find out for sure what the actual truth is.