2006 PRIDE FC Open Weight Grand Prix winner Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will be looking to make it three in a row when he takes on former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir this September 25th at UFC 119. Rumors began flying around at the end of this week that Filipovic, who is stepping in on late notice for an injured Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, had suffered a serious eye injury in training that would put his bout with Mir in jeopardy. The rumors were then refuted but have now been confirmed, save for the detail that “Cro Cop” would be withdrawing from the fight. Filipovic spoke with FightersOnly.com, detailing the injury and its cause and explaining why he will be fighting on.
“It was the very last minute of the very last round of the very last sparring,” ‘Cro Cop’ revealed to Fighters Only. “We were sparring in UFC gloves and my sparring partner – who is about 120 kilos, Croatia’s best Thai boxer – he poked me in the eye. The pain was like… I cant even describe it, the pain was so big I thought he had blinded me. Luckily there was a TV crew in the room and also some reporters from two websites. Frank Mir has talked this and that, maybe if nobody had seen this and there was no video, he would again be saying I am trying to make excuses. But no excuses, it is just bad luck. All I need now is for my plane to be hit by lightning tomorrow and crash into the Atlantic. I went to see a doctor and he advised that the eye should be rested minimum two weeks. But I have made a commitment to the UFC and a commitment to the fans, so there is no question of backing out of the fight. I do not want to let anyone down, I know they could not find a replacement for me at this short notice and many fans have already bought tickets for the show.”
“Cro Cop’s” dedication and heart cannot be questioned, as he is taking a fight against a dangerous former champion injured and on short notice. Many have been doubting Filipovic’s level of dedication and motivation at this stage in his career but his heart and fighting spirit are certainly safe from derision in this case. Filipovic, a former Croatian parliamentarian, will be showing all what it means to be a true fighter when he steps up against Mir at UFC 119 later this month at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.