One of the greatest fighters to ever compete has announced his retirement from the sport of MMA.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic made the decision public on his official website earlier today, citing a severe shoulder injury as the catalyst for his decision. “Cro Cop” was scheduled to compete at UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul, South Korea against Anthony Hamilton, but was forced to withdraw from the bout after learning the extent of the injury:
Dear friends, unfortunately I had to cancel the fight in Seoul. In the beginning of the preparation I already hurt my shoulder, so I couldn’t raise a hand. I tried to save a shoulder injury and repair in all possible ways: daily therapy, injections of blood plasma and various cocktails of drugs but didn’t work out. The only cure would be a break of two to three weeks, and that I could not afford in the midst of final preparations. By daily trainings the injury gets worse. Part of the muscle is snapped, the shoulder is filled with a lot of fluids, and the great danger is that tendon ruptures and then go to operation again.
The MMA legend went on to describe the reasons for his exit from the sport in greater detail:
People of course see only one side of the medal, material things, and for the passion, pain, blood and tears no one asks or cares, but it is so in life. Now it’s two in the morning, and I can not fall asleep, I tinkling thoughts and swirling my career in front of my eyes. I am aware that I have come to the end of my martial times, but training with pain I want no longer. My body is battered by countless trainings, I collected nine operations, the body has become prone to injury, after each workout I put ice on my knee operated on because it’s filled with fluid, therapies twice a week. The next fight would be 80th professional and that is a lot, especially in the competition: K-1, Pride, IGF, UFC. The biggest problem will be my adaptation to “civilian life”, without two workouts a day and the eternal journey around the world, and that whouldn’t fall so hard. I will train as long as I live because it’s my life, but not at this rate and I’m glad in some way.
This is not a temporary decision because I was unhappy due to all of that, but it’s my final decision and it’s best for me. Sooner or later the time comes when a man has to think on the health. I had a really long and great career and I believe I left a deep mark in the martial arts, in a free fight and in K-1 and I have no regrets. Thanks to everyone who followed me and supported me, but for me there remains beautiful memories. Greetings!
Filipovic will be leaving one the most accomplished legacies the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has ever witnessed behind him as he moves on to the next stage of his life. “The Croatian Sensation” originally gained fame in combat sports by competing as a kick boxer in the K-1 organization before being selected to compete in the Japanese powerhouse promotion Pride Fighting Championship, making his debut for the company in 2001.
During his time competing in MMA in Japan, Filipovic would face a cornucopia of top fighters, earning victories over such men as Kazushi Sakuraba, Igor Vovchanchyn, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett, Hidehiko Yoshida, and Wanderlei Silva. While he failed in his bid to wrest the Pride FC Heavyweight title from the ironclad clutches of Fedor Emelianenko in 2005, “Cro Cop” would emerge victorious in the 2006 Pride FC HW Grand Prix by finishing both Josh Barnett and Wanderlei Silva on the same night. Taking the Grand Prix would prove to be his greatest accomplishment in MMA and would propel him into a long and lucrative career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Though he was not able to match the success he had found across the Pacific while fighting for the North American company, Filipovic remains beloved by fans of the sport and will always be remembered for the violence in which he proved capable of dispatching his opponents. His head kicks were so feared that he was often heard making the famous quote “Right leg, hospital. Left leg, cemetery” when referring to the potential lethal effects that he could inflict on his opponents skulls with the weapons.
Fittingly enough, his final fight came in April of this year against Gabriel Gonzaga, almost 8 years to the day that the Brazilian shockingly knocked Filipovic out with one of the most brutal head kicks in the history of the UFC. His final moments in the Octagon saw him earning revenge for that crushing setback by finishing Gonzaga with elbows in the 3rd round of their main event contest in Poland.
After nearly 15 years in the sport, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s final MMA record will stand at an impressive 31-11 with 2 Draws and a single No Contest, including 23 KO’s and 5 submission victories. He will be leaving on a 3-fight winning streak at the age of 41.