That doesn't mean he's thinking about retirement, necessarily, though. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic said Wednesday that when he's ready to call it quits, he won't leave any doubts.
But ahead of his fight with Roy Nelson at UFC 137 on Saturday, Cro Cop, who has lost two straight, said a loss to the Season 10 "Ultimate Fighter" winner would be nothing short of a "disaster." And that thought is all he needs right now to get up for the fight.
"The biggest motivation? I lost two fights in a row, and if it happens that I lose the fight, I would be the unhappiest man on the planet, believe me," Cro Cop told media members after a light workout at the UFC Training Center in Las Vegas. "After so much training and fights (in my career), to lose three fights in a row would be a disaster for me. But I will survive – even if it happened, I will survive. I have two kids I have to live for. But it would be a disaster. That's why I trained really hard, and I will do my best to beat him."
Cro Cop (27-9-2, 4-5 UFC) was knocked out by Brendan Schaub in the third round at UFC 128 in March, and before that, he was knocked out by a Frank Mir knee at UFC 119 in September 2010. It's just the second time in Cro Cop's long career that he has lost back-to-back fights. The first came in his first stint with the UFC with a now-legendary knockout loss to Gabriel Gonzaga followed by a decision setback to Cheick Kongo.
Nelson (15-6, 2-2 UFC) is in similarly dangerous territory with two straight losses of his own – unanimous decision defeats at the hands of Mir in May and top heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos in August 2010. And though the famously portly Nelson may still joke about being the UFC's resident husky heavyweight, Cro Cop, a 2-to-1 underdog in the fight, said his opponent's threat is no laughing matter.
"He's a dangerous guy," Cro Cop said. "But people in my country will say, 'If you beat him, you beat a fat guy.' If I lost to him, they would start laughing at me. But he's a super dangerous guy who can knock out anyone today. Some people might be tricked by his body – but he's a dangerous guy."
If Nelson proves to be too dangerous for Cro Cop, if the fight goes the way the bookmakers expect it to and he does watch an opponent's hand get raised for the third straight time, it will be family he falls back on should he decide to hang up the gloves.
"I don't expect too much from life," Cro Cop said. "I don't like to start saying stuff about philosophy, but life is nothing. What is life? Who can guarantee, from us here, that we'll wake up tomorrow morning? No one. You could just die, you know? Just like that. So I don't expect too much from life. I just want my kids to be happy – my family and I to be happy as much as I can. That's all."
With philosophical waxings about life and death, one might assume Cro Cop is already planning on the likelihood of a loss, followed by retirement. But the former Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix champ doesn't see things going down that way – especially after training virtually nonstop, he said, since his loss to Schaub.
"When I decide to stop fighting, I will say it loud and clear," Cro Cop said. "I have many reasons – (I'm) 37, I have two kids, 70 fights behind myself. I have a long and successful career and I can be proud of myself. I started in a small village in Croatia in my old garage as a self-made fighter. After my last fight, I came home and took a long break – about 12 hours – and then I started training. I'm a professional and I can't let my body get extra weight. I don't think my fans would appreciate that.
"I really like Roy. He's a nice guy, and we'll just shake hands. But this is just a business, and I want to beat him just like I expect him to want to beat me."
Cro Cop and Nelson fight on the main pay-per-view card of UFC 137, which takes place Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The main event features a welterweight contenders bout between former champion BJ Penn and former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz.