Fans of Mirko Cro Cop knew it could be a sad night. In a Heavyweight contest at UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz, Mirko Filipovic was defeated by Roy Nelson. Nelson was able to gain control of Cro Cop on the ground in the 3rd round, secure his back, and pound him out until the referee called the fight off. This was Cro Cop's third straight loss, and in the post-fight interview, the legend called it quits, retiring from MMA.
This fight was in many ways typical of the Cro Cop we have seen in the UFC. He was unable to get his shots off enough, looking largely tentative throughout. But there were moments of the old Mirko - at times you saw the fire in his eyes that has been absent for his last few fights. But the notoriously hard to KO Nelson was able to survive those moments before putting an end to Cro Cop's night, and career. As part of his speech, Cro Cop apologized to fans, stating that he didn't want his final fight to end this way.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The best moment of that old Cro Cop fire came at the start of round 2, when he began connecting with a series of punches. And just for a moment, you thought maybe he was going to get it done. It didn't happen, but it was a great tease.
Where do these guys go from here?
As sad as I am to see Mirko gone from the sport, it's the right choice to make. He hasn't been the same great fighter he once was for quite some time, and seeing him get knocked out cold on more than one occasion was enough for me. He's given fans a tremendous career, highlighted by some of the sport's best fights and knock outs. I'll miss seeing him compete, but I hope the retirement sticks.
Nelson came in off back to back loses, and needed a win here badly. And he delivered, not only winning, but also looking in the best shape of his UFC career. He called out the winner of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos post-fight, which is a bit of a stretch. The logical fight for him is either Cheick Kongo or Travis Browne.
Watch it now, later, or never?
If you are a Cro Cop fan, watch it now. If not, later will be fine.
More BE coverage of UFC 137 in the full entry.