Formerly feared heavyweight fighter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has long-since tarnished his reputation as a devastating striker thanks to an uninspired six fight run in the UFC. Although his UFC tenure was interrupted by a brief, somewhat successful stint competing in Japan (Dream, Dynamite!), most look at his losses to Gabriel Gonzaga, Cheick Kongo and Junior Dos Santos coupled with unimpressive wins over Mostapha Al-Turk and Anthony Perosh as evidence that “Cro Cop’s” best days are behind him. There have been several different reasons bandied about as to why Filipovic is no longer the head-kicking knockout machine that fans saw in the PRIDE Fighting Championships, but the former Croatian parliamentarian recently offered his own explanation to Fighters Only magazine.
“I had a very bad injury two years ago,” “Cro Cop” said. “The knee was completely broken. I had three surgeries for the knee and of course it reflected on my kicking. I was afraid to kick, it was still very fresh. But I decided to take the risk for the [UFC 99] Cologne fight one year ago.
“If you noticed I didn’t even try to do a kick with my German opponent [Al-Turk], and I didn’t try – or I tried only once to kick Junior dos Santos because I didn’t feel very stable in kicking. I didn’t feel like my leg was good so I just didn’t kick it. So of course it frustrated me a lot but it was my decision to enter the cage. It was my decision to accept the fight. Nobody forced me to do that. But thank god it’s behind me now and my legs are okay now.”
Filipovic does not specify exactly what the injury was but he said that it was severe enough for his doctor to warn him against competing six months after his knee was operated on.
“The wound was still fresh,” he said. “It was only less than six months after the surgery so it was ‘suicide’ according to the doctor. But I decided to take the fight and I decided to take another fight with Dos Santos, which wasn’t a smart idea in that condition. But I’m just a fighter, you know, and I like the sport. I like fighting. I like competition but obviously you need to make decisions with the head, not with the heart.”
According to “Cro Cop,” his knee is now back in good enough shape that he can fire off the devastatingly powerful kicks that he is known for; a fact that, if true, should put the UFC’s heavyweight division on alert.
“But the leg is finally completely recovered,” said Filipovic. “It was a very hard injury, you know, so it really took time. Now it is one and a half years since I had the operation and now it’s finally okay. Now it’s finally okay. And finally a few months ago I started with the full [power] kicking.”
“Cro Cop” will get the chance to prove to fans and critics alike that his recent slump has been due to a knee injury when he takes on fellow striker Pat Barry this weekend at UFC 115: Liddell Vs. Farnklin at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.