Despite Close to UFC Career, Mirko Cro Cop Plans Return to Kickboxing

A third straight knockout loss brought a close to Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's UFC career, but the Croatian apparently isn't quite ready to call it quits when it comes to combat sports. While he's rehabbing a torn right biceps muscle, he is also plotting a return to kickboxing, and says he will fight in a March 10 show in his nation's capital city, Zagreb.

In an interview with Croatia's Fight Channel, Cro Cop revealed that he injured his right arm before his recent UFC 137 fight with Roy Nelson and decided to fight anyway. Even beforehand, he told fans that it was likely his last time in the octagon, and while he says he's done in the MMA realm, he plans to return to K-1 for the first time since 2003.

"K-1 is the sport where I started," he said. "This is my first love and I find K-1 more attractive and more suitable for our Croatian fans than MMA."

Cro Cop isn't scheduled to have his right arm removed from a cast until December 20, but despite his doctor's advice of staying on the sidelines for eight weeks, he has begun training in preparation for his return.

Cro Cop was once considered the most fearsome striker in MMA while in PRIDE, and came to the UFC on a high note, just after capturing PRIDE's Open Weight Grand Prix after knocking out Wanderlei Silva and causing Josh Barnett to tap out to punches on the same night in September 2006.

But his UFC tenure was rocky, going just 4-6 and never beating a top 10 opponent. As he has before, he voiced regret for his inability to find success in the organization, and admitted to some uninspired performances.

"I'm really sorry that I did not achieve my goals in that organization and I didn't fulfill their expectations," he said. "They paid me very well. I'm really sorry about that. I gave it my best shot. I was a professional and did my best to prepare for every fight, but after PRIDE Grand Prix, to be honest, I didn't have motivation to go on."

His K-1 opponent has yet to be named, but after being knocked out three straight times, there will be those that question whether a return to a striking-only sport is a good idea. But Cro Cop said he believes it will be a better fit for him given the less complex nature of it. Regardless, like many other fighters have discovered, the desire to continue competing has not been snuffed out even when your prime days are behind you.

"This fire in me will last forever," he said. "This is not just some fight to me. Like every time, I will prepare like it's the most important fight in my life."


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