Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic file photo: Sherdog.com
I think I’ll hop in the DeLorean and have a conversation with my 2002 self. Yes, I think I will.
“Hey, pal. Looking good.”
“I realize traveling through time probably deserves attention paid to more important things -- like ending terrorism or stopping Ashton Kutcher from acting, which might amount to the same thing -- but I had to tell you this: in 2010, Frank Mir knocks out Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic.”
“It’s true. Knee to the face after three rounds of a very docile ‘Cro Cop’ just sort of staring at him.”
“You don’t say possible things.”
“Oh, wait, I get it. ‘Cro Cop’ had just been paroled for murdering a middleweight Japanese guy, and he hadn’t trained, and…”
“It was kind of late notice, but then again, so were most of Mirko’s Pride fights.”
“What does this mean?”
“It means Mir got a lot better with his hands, and Filipovic got a lot worse with his, and they sort of met in the middle.”
“That’s pretty depressing. What is it about old fighters getting old?”
“I think we like to remember them at their peak, which means he would’ve needed to retire in 2006. This long, slow march into middle age is a bummer.”
“Did -- I mean, does -- Mirko fight again?”
“I’m not sure. This only happened in my past weekend, and I can’t travel into the future, only to the past.”
“If you can only travel into the past, how are you going to get back to 2010?”
Next For Mir: The winner of Brendan Schaub/Gabriel Gonzaga next month; a rematch with Antonio Nogueira, if he wants to throw a little more dirt on Pride’s corpse.
Next for Filipovic: A fonder farewell to fans in a European event, where the UFC could use his drawing power; Roy Nelson would be interesting.
Next for Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard: Each other.
Next for Chris Lytle: The winner of Dan Hardy/Carlos Condit in October.
There’s no longer any question that judging reform is needed in MMA -- the new question is whether it will ever happen.
Sean Sherk spent three rounds leaning on Evan Dunham Saturday, but leaning is more or less all he did: Dunham popped up virtually every time he was taken down, clipped Sherk standing using his reach, forced Sherk to fight off at least four tight guillotines, and spent the last 120 seconds bouncing him off the fence with strikes. Despite accruing more damage and having to pull himself out of more danger, Sherk took the split decision. “F--king robbed” is how Dana White described the outcome.
The current system is not working; various observers -- including fans, media members, and myself -- have speculated on either implementing half-points on scorecards, adding judges, adding monitors, or rewriting/clarifying the priority components of a fight. Yet athletic commissions do little else than nod, yawn, and take a long lunch. Forget steroids: the biggest cheat in MMA is going the distance.
Did ‘Cro Cop’ need to be fighting?
Filipovic made no secret of the fact that he treated the Mir fight as a necessary evil: he took it on short notice, his eye was injured, and he had been unsure he even wanted to continue fighting following a win over Pat Barry in the summer.
Sure enough, “Cro Cop” looked disinterested and made hardly any effort to push the pace of the fight or force exchanges. Following the knee that knocked him out, he seemed disjointed that Mir would even try that hard.
There is one overriding trait that seems almost mandatory for fighters: an unshakeable resolve to win. It keeps you hungry, it keeps your defenses up, and it keeps you healthy. If Filipovic is that indifferent to his career, he’ll continue to get hurt.
Dunham/Sherk: Loser up, winner down?
Dunham impressed everyone but judges Saturday, springing up each time Sherk took him down. (There was a time when Sherk taking you down meant you weren’t ever getting up.) Sherk, coming off a year layoff, needed and got a win. But he was unable to hold Dunham down, do any damage standing, or threaten in any way. The records stand, but it’s obvious who has more to offer in the lightweight division.
Is Chris Lytle the UFC’s best-ever .500 fighter?
Lytle started 2010 as a cringe-worthy 6-8 in the Octagon; three straight wins and several Fight of the Night bonuses later, he’s evened things up and made an unlikely bid for a late-career surge. The peppering boxing has come to resemble Nick Diaz, and the submissions are elite-level. At 36 and with six years invested in the UFC, he might become next year’s surprise title contender.
MMA is not boxing, least of all for the fact that athletes are expected to fight killers virtually every time out: pristine or near-perfect records are rare. The lesson? Even a guy who loses half his bouts is still one of the toughest in the sport.
UFC President Dana White refused to give a default Knockout of the Night award to Mir for his third-round victory over Filipovic -- the message being that the fight was such a stinker up until then that it didn’t warrant a bonus. Makes sense, but the takeaway is now that fighters involved in snoozers shouldn’t bother pushing the action late…At least two fighters -- Guillard and Mir -- made public apologies for their performances Saturday. Contrition is good, but it doesn’t refund the purchase price…Mark Hunt may be coming to the end of a storied combat sports career: he was submitted by Sean McCorkle in quick fashion during the opening preliminary bout. Aside from a stretch where he had side control on Fedor Emelianenko and early career victories against Wanderlei Silva and “Cro Cop,” Hunt has never been MMA material. Unless Barry wants to exchange with him, the UFC isn’t his place…Buried under the UFC press was early Saturday’s Dream 16 card, which saw Jason "Mayhem" Miller hand Kazushi Sakuraba his second-ever submission loss and the first since Sakuraba became a star in the late 1990s. Poor Saku is so cooked at this point that he makes “Cro Cop” look like Jon Jones.