UFC 137 was mostly forgettable past the Nick Diaz / BJ Penn fight, and we fans weren’t the only ones left feeling disgusted by how things turned out. What the event lacked in action it more than made up for in guys retiring themselves after their fights. While we’ll wait a few days for BJ Penn to decide if he really really really wants to retire (as BJ would say, “Find out on BJPenn.com!”), Mirko Crocop sounded pretty sure of his decision after losing to Roy Nelson.
People wonder what ever happened to the old Mirko Crocop, and the answer is pretty simple: he died on the operating table. Not literally, but when the doctors sliced up his legs and tried to put his knees back together several times. That was the point where he couldn’t compete the way he used to. Here he is talking about it over a year ago:
“I had a very bad injury two years ago,” “Cro Cop” said. “The knee was completely broken. I had three surgeries for the knee and of course it reflected on my kicking. I was afraid to kick, it was still very fresh. But I decided to take the risk for the [UFC 99] Cologne fight one year ago.
“If you noticed I didn’t even try to do a kick with my German opponent [Al-Turk], and I didn’t try – or I tried only once to kick Junior dos Santos because I didn’t feel very stable in kicking. I didn’t feel like my leg was good so I just didn’t kick it. So of course it frustrated me a lot but it was my decision to enter the cage. It was my decision to accept the fight. Nobody forced me to do that. But thank god it’s behind me now and my legs are okay now.”
Of course, that hasn’t really been true. His legs may be ‘okay’ in that he is able to walk around on them, climb stairs, and do all sorts of normal dude stuff. He was even able to keep up some pretty good mobility in the cage over the past few years. But MMA fighters are like high performance cars. You lose a few fractions of a second in the speed department and you’re done. And with Crocop, it was more than just his speed and agility that were compromised. His kicks – his fucking kicks! – were a thing of the past. When’s the last time you remember him throwing his high kicks effectively? His cemetery specials?
So don’t feel too bad about Mirko retiring. Age and injuries took their toll and it’s impressive enough that we got over a decade of Crocop kicking ass (and face) across kickboxing and MMA. Let’s just move forward and remember the awesome Crocop and all the sick performances he put on. And make a pact to punch any newb in the face that tries to tell you he sucks.