With the recent announcement of Mirko Cro Cop’s “temporary” departure from the UFC on many MMA fans’ minds, I thought I’d give my two cents on the situation. Some of you might not care about what I have to say, while others may read this and actually think it makes sense. I’m still going to write about it anyways because it’s important to be honest when you run a website like this and have an opinion on important matters.
When I first found out that Mirko Cro Cop was joining the UFC I thought to myself, ‘finally a guy who will take over the UFC Heavyweight division’. Boy was I wrong.
Cro Cop’s UFC debut was at UFC 67 last February against a decent Heavyweight in Eddie Sanchez. Obviously Sanchez wouldn’t stand a chance against a top-level Heavyweight like Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko or current UFC Heavyweight champion Antonio Nogueira, but that’s neither here nor there. Yes Cro Cop won the fight against Sanchez very easily, I think it was more of Sanchez’ fear of getting knocked out than Cro Cop dominating the fight. I should’ve seen the writing on the walls then because after watching the fight again, you can see how Mirko had a little bit of trouble in the fight and never really got a rhythm in the octagon.
The UFC gave Cro Cop a gift back in April at UFC 70 in a young and in-experienced Gabriel Gonzaga. Sure Gonzaga had a decent number of fights in him (9 at the time of the fight), but nothing could’ve prepared him for a man with the talents of Mirko Cro Cop. All Cro Cop had to do was win this fight and he’d get the title shot that he’d been longing for, against a man who was fresh out of retirement (Randy Couture). Like many times before, Cro Cop came up short as everything that should’ve gone wrong against Eddie Sanchez DID go wrong against Gabriel Gonzaga. Of course Gonzaga would go on and get absolutely obliterated by Randy Couture at UFC 74 in August.
Dana White and Joe Silva then proceeded to ensure that Mirko Cro Cop wouldn’t have a losing record in the UFC by matching him up against a decent stand-up fighter in Cheick Kongo at UFC 75 in September. Kongo was exposed for his horrible takedown defense against Carmelo Marrero, but Cro Cop isn’t a takedown type of guy. Well, when you’re a professional fighter you adapt to the fighter you’re fighting and Mirko just didn’t do that. He got beat up for three embarrassing rounds and found himself with a record of 1-2 in the UFC against less than stellar competition for his standards.
That leaves us with Tuesday’s press conference in Japan held by FEG. The announcement of K-1 DREAM’s and the re-debut of Mirko Cro Cop in Japan, but what about his contract with the UFC? Well the UFC had asked Cro Cop to re-negotiate his contract and take a paycut. That’s the one thing I do understand, once a contract is signed and the amounts are agreed upon, you shouldn’t have to give up money.
There probably would’ve been another way to keep him in the UFC, but Mirko decided to take his ball home and run with it. Does he honestly think that this is going to solve his problem of lackluster performances? He should know this by now, he’s his own worst enemy! He himself is his biggest problem, he mentally isn’t as strong as that left high kick that he’s knocked out so many fighters with. Maybe this is a smart move on his part, to go back where he feels most comfortable and get that confidence he needs to make another run at a title shot.
I guess we’ll have to wait until March 15th to find out which Mirko Cro Cop we’ll see, but to answer the question of the article, did Mirko Cro Cop take the easy way out? The simple answer is, maybe.
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