As if Mirko Filipovic's week didn't have enough twists and turns now a report emerges that may explain his odd behavior before and after the fight. The usually moody "Cro Cop" seemed to do a mid-week about-face in his dealings with the media. He was glib and cracked a few jokes at the prefight press conference. Cro Cop also exchanged an odd number of pleasantries with his opponent Pat Barry before and during the fight. But he also mentioned during the lead-up to the fight that he was dealing with some odd circumstances. Boy, did he understate that. Cro Cop cleared things up once he got back home to Croatia and spoke with the local media.
Filipovic is a former member of Croatian police and that caught the eye of Canadian authorities:
"The first day I was kept for four hours and two more the next day. Although they were not satisfied with my answers they let me go to the hotel in the city, to sleep," Cro Cop told Croatia's Net.hr. "They asked me to think about the questions raised. I was threatened with deportation, but appealed to the Croatian Embassy. The Consul was urgently flown in from Ottawa, and the UFC hired the best lawyer for immigration issues."
Cro Cop has a long history of working for the government.
"Most of them were interested in my military service. I served in 1993-1994 as a conscripts, but I was not involved in combat activities. They asked me if I was involved in the torture of civilians, asking for names of command lines and tactical commanders. They were asking for details of my activities in Lucko ATJ [anti-terrorist unit] which I joined a few years after the war."
He said if it came down to it, he was ready to bail from the fight and go back to Croatia.
"They gave me a list of names for me to confirm, but I did not do it. I can not confirm one name because it is still a matter of dignity and principles. I said to myself, ‘If it comes to it I am ready to go home.' They could have done what they wanted with me but [in the end] they let me fight."
Cro Cop covered it well during the week but he did seem a bit exasperated during the postfight press conference. He was happy to win but defended himself against the talk that he was too old to fight on.
"A man is old when he's unable to recover between two trainings. I wanted to prove to everyone that I'm not old and they are wrong," said Cro Cop. He also talked about a lack of quality training partners that has held him back his entire career. "I was frustrated when I came to UFC and for some fights in PRIDE. I felt tired after 3-4 minutes. A punching bag is one thing, a sparring partner is different."
Cro Cop is a tough nut to crack. He was even more somber when he returned home. Just a few days after winning his 27th fight and fourth in the UFC, Cro Cop sounded like he's ready to walk away.
"... [but] most of the training proved to me that I am now too old for this…I don’t know about a new contract with the UFC," Cro Cop told Croatia's Jutarnji. "For 20 years I lived this life and now I have no motivation for the fight, no mental strength for all the Spartan training. I am no longer so hungry for victory. I will not stop training, but if I am asleep I’ll stay in bed and practice an hour later."
I'd like to see more Cro Cop fights. If matched correctly, his brawls are entertaining. But it's clear he doesn't have the explosion in his legs like he did in his 20s. Why not walk away with a win?