Listening to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at today’s UFC 137 pre-fight press conference, it sounded like the rightly revered Pride FC veteran has the finish line in sight.
The 37-year-old is on deck to face Roy Nelson this weekend at UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz in what is the last fight on his current contract and possibly the last fight of his career, win or lose. The potent striker has turned in dicey results over the last four years or so of his career, consistently coming up short against the tougher competition in the UFC. He’s currently riding a two-fight losing streak and, though he is motivated to turn in a spectacular performance, he doesn’t see himself sticking around for too much longer.
“I wish you could see the new Cro Cop, 15 years younger, I wish it’s possible. But, unfortunately I’m 37 and this could easily be my last fight in the UFC It has nothing to do with the result of the fight,” said Cro Cop. “If I win or if I lose – especially if I lose – but even if I win this could easily be my last fight in the UFC. And I will really give my best.”
One of MMA’s most respected competitors and elder statesman, Filipovic stated that he’s simply getting to old to make MMA competition the main focus of his life.
“There is 37 or 38 reasons (for me to retire after this fight). That’s exactly how old I am. It doesn’t mean that I cannot fight anymore, no. My stamina and conditioning is maybe the best I’ve ever had, really. I’m 240, I’m not fat, I trained hard for this fight, 6 months, and of course I could keep fighting, but every man comes to the point where he asks himself do I need it anymore? I have two sons, two kids at home and so many things that I would like to discover,” he said. “Next year in June it will be 20 years from my first fight. I had a long and rich career and I can say successful – not in the UFC, which I will never be able to forgive myself, I just blew it up. When I came to the UFC they treated me like a king. Even today they treat me like a king, I just didn’t make it. The reasons are not important.”
And what does the former Croatian parliamentarian and former member anti-terrorist commando have in mind for his impending retirement?
“I will raise my kids,” he said. “I think that’s the best thing I can do.”
Cro Cop will wage what could be his final battle this Saturday night, October 29, at UFC 137, which will take place from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check back on the night for FightLine’s live, ongoing coverage of the event.