With Mirko Cro Cop about to step into the Octagon against Ben Rothwell at UFC 110, MMA fans are wondering whether we might get one more glimpse of the Cro Cop of old. But one opponent who took on Cro Cop when he was at the top of his game thinks that Cro Cop is gone.
Fedor Emelianenko said recently that he thinks Cro Cop has lost the competitive fire that once made him great.
"I think that in that time Mirko was in his best form," Fedor said of their epic battle at Pride Final Conflict 2005. "He was in good physical shape and he was on a psychological lift. He was a very interesting fighter. He had great potential. Now something happened to him, and he does not have either the physical condition or mental attitude."
Fedor said he can't put his finger on exactly what it is that changed about Cro Cop, but it's clear that something did.
"There is something that broke in him and he is not the same fighter as he was before," Fedor said. "This is evident on his style of fighting and on his look during the fight. I don't know how to explain. ... You know when a person goes into the ring to win, or at least not to lose. I mean, when a fighter is ready and goes to fight than it can be seen by his look. Regardless of whether he gets hit or not, he goes forward and regardless of whether he wins or loses, he wants to go forward, and it is clear from his burning eyes.
That, Fedor says, isn't what we've seen in Cro Cop recently.
"But it also happens that a fighter does not want to -- not even to win, but he wants to get out of here so quickly as possible, out of the ring, out of the cage, with any result of the fight."
That certainly describes how Cro Cop looked in his most recent fight, a loss to Junior dos Santos in which Cro Cop basically quit in the third round. As an admirer of the Cro Cop of old, I'd like to think Fedoris wrong and we'll see that Cro Cop again. But I think Fedor is probably right.