WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/4: Mirko Cro Cop says he’s now retired for good, Ortiz and Sonnen exchange verbal jabs (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

By Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Mirko Cro Cop

For the second time, Mirko Cro Cop has called an end to his professional fighting career. He says this time it’s for good.

Just days after winning the Rizin Grand Prix tournament in Japan, Cro Cop told Nova TV back in his native Croatia of his retirement plans. “I know I have announced my retirement before, but this is definitely it,” he said.

Cro Cop cited knee issues as contributing to his decision to retire. He said that the cartilage in his knee was “destroyed” and that weekly visits to the doctor and the pain of training with the injury make him “never want to go through such hell [again].”

Cro Cop, 42, was once one of the most feared strikers in all of MMA, winning the 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix with wins over Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett on the final night of the tournament. He came over to UFC after the dissolution of Pride but saw limited success over three stints with the company, compiling a 5-6 record under the UFC banner.

In November 2015, Cro Cop was suspended for two years after voluntarily disclosing to USADA that he was using human growth hormone to rehab a shoulder injury. He was released from his UFC contract in July 2016, freeing him to be able to fight in Japan.

Cro Cop ends his mixed martial arts career with a 35-11-2 (1 NC) record.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: Mirko Cro Cop should go down as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time despite his struggles while in UFC. There has to be an asterisk on that due to his PED use, but anyone who fought in Japan during that era, and even UFC, would be subject to the same qualification. It really is too bad that he never saw the success in UFC that he did in Pride as he could have been a bigger star for the company than he ended up being. If he had been able to win more of his UFC fights, big matchups with Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar could have been made. Instead, they never came to fruition. He never seemed to be the same after the knockout loss to Gabriel Gonzaga. Whether it was the knee injury from that awkward fall, or his trouble adapting to the cage as opposed to the ring, or adapting to increased (ie. any) drug testing in the U.S., he just couldn’t get things going in UFC and ended up being used as a name fighter for up and coming heavyweights to beat on their way up the rankings. 


-There was a media conference call to promote Bellator’s Jan. 21 show headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen. Some notable quotes from the call include:

Ortiz: “I know what I need to do. I need to defend the takedown, I need to watch out for the punches, I need to watch out for the guillotine. I know all of the moves that Chael has done and my job is to go in and destroy him. On January 21, two days before my birthday, I want to get the ‘Fight of the Night.’ I hope Chael’s in great shape because when I’m on top of him, he’s going to sh– himself.”

Sonnen: “It was painful just listening to him read through that list of notes. He just rattled off all of his bullets right there in one answer and I think he asked to go to the bathroom during it, which was a little weird. I don’t care, I never thought about Tito Ortiz. I didn’t come to this organization to fight Tito Ortiz. I’ve been chasing Wanderlei Silva around, but Wanderlei is busy until the summer. They called me and asked if I’d fight Tito on January 21 and I didn’t have anything else going on, so I said yes.”

-The prelims on FS1 prior to UFC 207 averaged 1.511 million viewers, which could be an indicator of a very strong pay-per-view number.

-UFC has hired ESPN personality and former WWE employee Todd Grisham. Grisham will be hosting the desk panel for FS1 shows and will take over some of Jon Anik’s play-by-play duties on FS1 as Anik will be filling in Mike Goldberg’s spot until a permanent replacement for Goldberg is put in place. Grisham has recently done play-by-play for Glory Kickboxing on UFC Fight Pass. (SOURCE)

-John Lineker told MMA Fighting that he suffered a broken jaw in the first round of his fight with T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 207. He was served a six-month medical suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission.


-Daniel Jolly vs. Khalil Rountree at UFC Fight Night Houston on Feb. 4.

-Todd Duffee vs. Mark Godbeer and Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins for UFC 209 on March 4 from Las Vegas.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/3: White elaborates on how Rousey took her loss at UFC 207 (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

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