His name alone unleashes a flood of thousands of memories in the minds of MMA fans everywhere. He is a revered legend in the sport for his battles in Pride, his unbelievable highlight reel, and outstanding kickboxing accomplishments. Mirko Cro Cop is one of the all time legends in combat sports, and he is fighting tomorrow night in the main event of Glory 14 against Remy Bonjasky.
Bonjasky announced that this bout will be his retirement party, ending his own historic kickboxing career. The bout between Cro Cop and Bonjasky is actually a rematch from the K1 Grand Prix in 2002. That night, Cro Cop defeated Bonjasky by TKO due to referee’s stoppage.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cro Cop to discuss his upcoming bout against Bonjasky, reflect on his historic career, and the possibility of returning to the UFC.
How he is feeling going into Saturday night’s bout
I feel great. I am well prepared and I can’t wait for the fight. I will do my gameplan. I don’t know how it will finish, but I believe I will beat him again. How? I don’t know. I am sure he had an excellent training because he knows it is his last fight and so he will do his best to say goodbye to the world of kickboxing.
Knowing that this is Bonjasky’s last fight, does that change your mindset at all?
No not especially. I’m flattered and honored- not for me, but I think it would be a great honor for any fighter that Remy picks you for his last fight. He is a great champion, a 3 time K1 winner, and one of the biggest legends in the world of kickboxing. I am definitely flattered.
Fighting in his hometown of Zagreb
It’s always nice to fight in your own city in front of your own audience. The people they cheer for you and the whole arena will stand behind me. From the other hand it is a little more pressure than usual, but it is okay. I am a professional, I am experienced in this business, and I will handle it.
His thoughts on his achievements in combat sports
I am very flattered many people started doing MMA because of me. I know that because a lot of the UFC fighters approached me during my UFC days and said that I was motivation for them to start training. That is of course very nice to hear. It is a great thing for my work that I was able to inspire people. I don’t think about that too much though. I still am a sportsman and a fighter, so all I think and concentrate on is my present opponent whoever it is.
How he balances MMA training with Kickboxing training
I am always training my MMA schedule. It is a big benefit for kickboxing too. Even my MMA training is concentrated on stand up. Even for this situation I was doing wrestling. Every training starts with 5-10 minutes of wrestling and then stand up. It is very good for the clinching because you are more tough and physically stronger. After the training, just for fun, I work some ground work for 5-10 minutes with my guys. I am always working on my technique in the gym.
His potential return to the UFC
I am moving on right now. The only thing I am thinking about right now is how to beat Remy Bojansky. Every fight is the most important one especially in the fighting business. It will be great though if I return. I was thinking that I would like to do some rematches in the UFC, but of course I don’t think the UFC works that way. UFC doesn’t give you the opponents you pick. I definitely would like rematches against Gonzaga, Nelson, Big Nogueira, and Mark Hunt. Those are the fighters that I would fight and I would be inspired to prepare for that you know? Even I believe that fans would like to see those fights again, but who knows what will happen. Right now I am focused on this fight and god knows what happens next.
His most unforgettable moment in his career
If I beat Remy in two days, it will be my best moment (laughs), I am just kidding. I have so many unforgettable memories like my first fight in MMA vs Fujita. I was considered a huge underdog, they did not even give me 1% chance to beat him and I managed to beat him. My first appearance in Japan I fought a legend and K1 finalist, Jerome Le Banner, and I managed to beat him. There are so many beautiful and unforgettable moments. Fighting Nogueira, fighting Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva. I just can not pick one. I shared dressing rooms in Saitama with these men and made beautiful and unforgettable moments.