Mirko 'CroCop' reflects on GLORY 14 ZAGREB
Published on Mar 12, 2014
He may be a veteran of over seventy fights against world-level opponents, but Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic - a winner of PRIDE FC and K-1 tournaments - still feels the pressure each time he prepares to step into the ring.
That pressure is doubled when the fight takes place in his home city of Zagreb as it did on Saturday night for the main event of GLORY 14 ZAGREB. He and Remy Bonjasky fought three rounds in what was Bonjasky’s retirement match.
“It is always pressure to fight in your home town. Your friends and family are coming to see you, there are more promotional obligations, endless interviews in the days before the fight, constant interviews instead of training,” says ‘CroCop’, now 22-8 in kickboxing.
“That’s the name of the game, every promoter needs to promote his events, I just don’t enjoy it. Although I must say the journalists I spoke to - especially in the USA - were very kind and very professional and they asked excellent questions, there were no boring questions.
“But I was under huge stress in the days before the fight. And so many interviews, so close to the fight, add to the stress. Especially as English is not my first language, it takes a lot of effort.”
The interview requests came by the dozen. ‘CroCop’ did as many as he could handle before calling it quits and retiring to base camp ready for the fight. He felt well-trained and was expecting a hard clash.
“I felt really good. I trained hard, my cardio was good, I was trained really well. I knew Remy would give 110% - especially when at the pre-fight press conference he confirmed that this was going to be his retirement fight,” he says.
And when the fight did go down it was a good one - plenty of pace and power - and it was a close one. After three rounds of fighting, two judges had it for Bonjasky, one for ‘CroCop’, resulting in a Majority Decision.
When that decision was announced, ‘CroCop’ congratulated his opponent then left the ring without addressing the crowd. Boos rained down on Bonjasky as the Zagreb crowd released its disappointment in the result.
“After the fight I was full of adrenaline and under huge stress. When they declared him the winner I hugged him, congratulated him and then I turned and left. The fighter who wins is the one who stays to give the speech,” ‘CroCop’ shrugs.
“Since then I’ve been reading reports, people saying I should have been more of a sportsman, stayed in the ring and made a speech myself. Well I wasn’t in the mood to take the microphone. I was so disappointed, I had trained so hard for this fight. I was so full of adrenaline… I just left the ring.
“I was sorry for Remy receiving the boos from the audience like that. I like Remy and I respect him. He is one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. He stands alongside Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost and Semmy Schilt. Legendary fighters. He didn’t deserve to hear all those boos and whistles.
“But I want to be clear - they were not booing or whistling Remy, they were whistling and booing because of the decision. But Remy took it very personally and got emotional, he cried. It was his last fight and he didn’t deserve that kind of goodbye.”
‘CroCop’ had another shock waiting for him when he got back to the dressing room after leaving the ring, one which quickly placed his disappointment into context.
“I had a call, my mother finished her night in the hospital. She was at home watching the fight on the edge of her seat and she almost suffered a heart attack,” he says.
“Her heart-rate was through the roof and she was incredibly stressed - she had been stressed all through the week - and luckily my nephew was there and he took her to the hospital. They kept her in overnight and she was released in the morning.
“So I didn’t go to the post-fight press conference, I apologized to the organization but I just wasn’t in the mood to do it. Compared to this, who cares about a fight, you know? I was really shocked.”
Saturday night’s stress rolled out across Sunday for the Croatian heavyweight but then his mother was given the all-clear. By Tuesday, emotions had calmed considerably and a more objective look at the fight was possible.
“I think the whole show was great. GLORY had great production and really great fights. It was an excellent show. I thought my fight was very good, the people enjoyed it but I just think at the end they were shocked by Remy being declared the winner,” he says.
“Maybe the judges though it should be a goodbye present. They didn’t do a good job in my opinion. I think there should have been at least an extra round, and I don’t think he would have been able to keep up. But it happened on Saturday and today is Tuesday so I am lot cooler now. Life goes on.
“I am going to get Remy’s number and call him to explain that the people were not booing him, only that they were disappointed for the decision. I was sad for him, to have to hear that at the end of such a huge career, but it wasn’t personal to him.”
Already putting the disappointment behind him, ‘CroCop’ is now planning a little downtime. Traditionally he will head to his home village of Privlaka after a fight; often he spends a day or two fishing.
“Right now I am going to take a short vacation and think about nothing. I am going to coast for a couple of days and then I am going to the village where I was born,” he confirms.
“ I don’t know what comes next, right now I just want a few day off where I don’t think about fighting. So we will see what happens after that.”
GLORY’s next event takes place Saturday April 12 in Istanbul, Turkey and features a four-man light-heavyweight tournament with the World Championship Title on the line.
Tyrone Spong (90-5, 60 KO’s), Gokhan Saki (79-16, 56 KO’s), Nathan ‘Carnage’ Corbett (57-4, 45 KO’s) and Saulo Cavalari (28-2, 18 KO’s) will battle it out in a night of knockout action which will leave only one of them standing as champion at GLORY 15 ISTANBUL.
GLORY 15 ISTANBUL will air in the US on SPIKE TV and will be broadcast to over 150 territories worldwide.