High Expectations and History Plague Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic's Future

Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic just can't please anyone. Photo by Daniel Herbertson, Sherdog.com

One of the storylines that some of the major MMA media have been focusing on in the aftermath of UFC 110 has been the poor performance that Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic displayed in his beatdown of Anthony Perosh, a fellow Croatian fighter who took the fight on short notice. While most fans are acknowledging the fact that Mirko was completely dominant in the victory over Perosh, many writers are down on Mirko for not being able to destroy a fighter at that level in quicker fashion:

Yes, Cro Cop thoroughly dominated Perosh, left him covered in blood and won by TKO, but Cro Cop did less than I thought he should do: The Cro Cop of old would have knocked Perosh out in the first round, not toyed with him for 10 minutes. Perosh, meanwhile, did more than I thought he should do: After taking the fight on just two days' notice, he showed a lot of heart in continuing to fight even after that nasty cut opened up on his forehead late in the second round. (Michael David Smith, MMAFighting.com)

Josh Gross over at Sports Illustrated was a bit more reserved:

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (26-7-2) may have earned the 20th stoppage victory of his career, but it was hardly his most impressive win. Appearing slow and sluggish, he needed 10 minutes to put away Anthony Perosh, who met the veteran heavyweight slugger on two-day's notice.

I'm not going to disagree with Gross in the assessment that Mirko was slow and sluggish. He did look visibly a bit more powerful than in previous outings, but I'm assuming Gross' evaluation stems from the fact that Mirko didn't press the pace enough to finish off a crushed Perosh in the first or second round.

It wasn't an impressive victory in the context of Mirko's past victories. He didn't head kick Perosh into unconsciousness or punch him out with the tenacity we've seen during his PRIDE days. But that's my problem entirely. The expectations from some fans and writers are that if Mirko isn't performing at that level, he's worthless in terms of entertainment value and done with this sport.

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There is some supporting evidence to that argument. Mirko has yet to learn how to cut fighters off in the Octagon, something that was instrumental to his success in the PRIDE ring. He continues to throw head kicks without setting them up with leg kicks. He seems uninterested in chasing down opponents, and it almost leads me to believe that Mirko's past knee injuries are continuing to affect his movement and kicking ability.

But there are some that would beg to differ from those points. Mirko still managed to completely demolish Perosh in the striking department. He quickly moved out of the way of any of Perosh's offense, sprawled effectively, landed heavy straight punches to Perosh's chin, and knocked him senseless on countless ocassions during the fight. The climax came when Mirko carved Perosh's forehead open with an elbow.

Perosh showed tremendous heart, but he didn't exactly help Mirko's cause. Perosh showed poor offensive striking in the face of Mirko's heavier hands. He basically came to the conclusion that trying to punch with Mirko was a bad idea in the first round, and proceeded to backpedal for the rest of the fight... with the ocassional shot into Mirko's sprawl.

Sure, Mirko should have continued bombing Perosh when he had him on the floor. I understand the frustration, but I'm not buying the expectations that Mirko should have charged at Perosh on the feet and opened himself up to the counter. Perosh would have likely failed in countering, but it's a chance in a must-win fight that Mirko doesn't need to take.

History says that Mirko "CroCop" should crush his opponents with head kicks, quick movement, and great K-1 level striking, and all of those fantastic wins from his PRIDE days seem to be a plague for Mirko in this latter stage of his career. He'll never be that fighter again, and there are only a select few fighters in the world that are still operating at a high level from their earlier days. We could even argue that despite Fedor's continued dominance, he isn't the exact same fighter he used to be.

It probably doesn't help that Mirko seems uninterested in fighting, but I'm still under the thought that fans and media are being way too critical in this instance. Mirko has shown his deficiencies as of late, but are we really basing a lot of the criticism on what we think Mirko should be doing in the Octagon? This isn't the PRIDE era anymore.
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