In has been almost been a year since Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s last fight in the UFC. After losing to Roy Nelson via TKO in the third-round at UFC 137, Cro Cop announced his retirement from MMA.
However it would not be his last foray into combat sports as defeated Ray Sefo in a kickboxing match in March, almost nine year absence in kickboxing.
After his win over Sefo, Filipovic would fight in May and defeat Loren Javier Jorge at K-1 World MAX 2012 World Championship Tournament Final 16 in a super fight. The win was enough to let Cro Cop advance to the K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 Final 16 in October.
This is Cro Cop’s chance to once again ascend to the top and once again become a world champion.
There is no doubt that Cro Cop will go down as one of the most beloved mixed martial fighters of all-time, having an impressive run in Pride that included first-round K.O. victories over names like Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva and Mark Coleman as well as winning the Pride 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix tournament.
However Cro Cop was a famous kickboxer before making the transition to MMA. Prior to his wins over Sefo and Jorge, Filipovic racked up a 16-7 kickboxing record.
He had wins over K-1 world champions like Mark Hunt, Peter Aerts and Remy Bonjasky and was the runner up of the K-1 World 1999 Grand Prix, losing to Ernesto Hoost.
Although there are several kickboxers who still compete during the time when Cro Cop was fighting in the ring, Cro Cop has a new generation of opponents. Although they have the quickness, Cro Cop’s biggest advantage may be his experience in the sport.
The idea is that combat sports are a young man’s game and with Cro Cop being 38 years old, he has no place in the ring or the cage.
However there are a few cases where older fighters have risen to the top of the ranks over their younger peers.
Boxer George Foreman would become the oldest fighter to win a world title by winning heavyweight championship at the age of 45.
Bernard Hopkins would pass Foreman by winning the light heavyweight championship at the age 46.
MMA fighters like Randy Couture and Dan Henderson won world championships while their 40’s.
Whether Cro Cop wins or loses the tournament, he still could have a place within K-1. With Spike airing K-1 events, having Cro Cop at televised events could bring in new fans who remember him during his MMA days.
If Cro Cop is able to win in October, he advances to the final eight in December. By winning the K-1 world belt, he will not only join the ranks of Aerts, Hunt and others, but also add to his legacy of being one of the best combat sports athletes of all-time.
How do you feel about Cro Cop still fighting? Do you think he has a chance to win the grand prix? Answer with a comment below or a send a tweet to @alstover with the hashtag #RantMMA