Mirko Cro Cop has once been one of the most-feared heavyweights on the planet, with his cold-as-ice in-ring demeanor and his deadly left high kick. During Pride FC's last days, he has been the king of the heap, their Open-Weight Grand Prix champion. No one could touch him.
Cro Cops downfall began when he shockingly got knocked out by Gabriel Gonzaga with his own trademark left headkick in 2007. From that day on, he has never been the same anymore.
"It was one of the fights I will never forget," Cro Cop told Ariel Helwani on the last episode of The MMA Hour. Of his following 15 MMA fights the Croatian only won eight and has been on the receiving end of multiple grueling knockouts. On April 11, at UFC Fight Night: Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga 2, he wants to finally break the spell.
I just want a rematch with him [...] I can't say I will beat him, but I will die trying. That's how I feel. I feel good right now. There are a few things I still want to do and definitely fighting Gabriel Gonzaga is one of them."
After UFC 70, Gonzaga missed to build on what has been the biggest win of his life. He spent most of his time in the UFC, but remained a mid-tier fighter who regularly failed against top-competition. Cro Cop feels, that when they meet for a second time, it will significantly differ from the first one.
"I really believe that I'm a better fighter than Gabriel Gonzaga," Cro Cop said. "I don't want to be a big mouth and I respect him. He's a great fighter. [...] I already studied all his fights after we fought," he said. "No big surprises. I know exactly what he's going to do. Things will be different this time."
Cro Cop has collected 11 MMA losses over the course of his career. The one against Gonazaga might be the worst, the one that bugs him the most. The now 40-year old says, he has to at least try to fix this, no matter the outcome.
"Even if I fail, which I don't think I will, I know I tried," Cro Cop said. "That's how I function. That's how I think. That's me. That's my life philosophy. [...] "I really want that victory [against Gonzaga] more than anything," he said. "Believe me. More than anything."
(Transcription taken from MMAFighting.com)
The circle will close on April 11. Cro Cop managed to win both of his 2014 fights against Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii in Japan. Gonzaga on the other hand lost both of his 2014 outings against Stipe Miocic and Matt Mitrione. Both will main-event the first ever UFC event in the MMA-crazy nation of Poland.