At 43 years of age, one would think it would be in Mirko Cro Cop’s best interest to call it a career. But after sitting down and speaking with him yet again, that will not be happening anytime soon.
The MMA living legend is set to take on fellow pioneer Tsuyoshi Kosaka on December 31st, as part of Rizin FF’s year end spectacle. Many thought this would be Mirko’s last fight, but he made it clear to Frank Trigg and I, he has a specific plan for his final curtain call.
He detailed to us that his initial idea was to cap things off with a legends tilt, here in Japan, vs. Fedor Emelianenko. Unfortunately, with Fedor’s career continuing to flounder, Mirko says it’s not looking like the ‘Last Emperor’ will be an option.
So who will it be?
Well Cro Cop wanted to be clear that first thing is first. He must deal with TK on New Year’s Eve. He knows all the pressure is on himself to defeat the Japanese heavyweight and is very appreciative that TK stepped up to face him. Unbeknownst to us, this was actually the third opponent that Rizin offered him, as two others turned down the bouts, the moment Mirko said ‘Yes’.
And once this bout with TK has subsided, Cro Cop will return home to Croatia and decide whether he will fight once more in 2018, or twice. Ideally twice was what we gathered but the big focus is his retirement fight in Japan, on NYE next year.
Cro Cop enjoys life as we know it, being not just a star in his homeland but a successful business owner. He owns a variety of real estate, some villas and a few coffee shops. He’s also the father to two boys (15 and 17) and owns some dogs that he spends plenty of time with. The family man enjoys life’s simple pleasures but cannot seem to let go of the athlete and fighter within him.
He still finds copious amounts of joy from training. He loves the mental hurdles he must overcome to maintain the timing and physical fitness required to compete inside the ring, but he’s not silly. He referenced the modern day talents (and future) of Francis Ngannou and that it’s not in his best interest to fight a monster like that.
But Filipovic also knows his place in the MMA landscape. While he finds it awkward to share a dressing room with some of the younger fighters, he knows what he means to them. While he likes to be surrounded by fighters and people his own age, he deals with the awkwardness of these young bucks looking at him ‘like an MMA God’ in stride.
Yes, Cro Cop really wants to fight Fedor in his finale, but he knows that the option continues to fade as a reality. Instead, if he must, he would like to square off against a young buck in his personal MMA finale.
Why you may ask?
For Mirko, it’s far more important to lose in dramatic fashion in his final fight than to go out as winner vs what he deems as ‘a can’. That’s the warrior spirit he was born with and a belief that was honed over the many years competing in Japan.
Here, in the land of the rising sun, they talk about the samurai and as the story goes, (one which was told to Trigg and I just a day ago), was that true samurai’s die falling forward, never falling backward. They either emerge victorious or die kissing the ground.
For Mirko Cro Cop, NYE 2018 will either be one where his hand will be raised in victory or one where he will be kissing the mat. And truth be told, he does not care which one it may be.