After nearly two decades in the professional MMA space, former PRIDE Grand Prix Champion and heavyweight legend, Mirko Cro Cop, has officially announced his retirement from the sport. Widely regarded as one of the great veterans of MMA, Cro Cop has had a monumental influence on the fight game, as we know it today. A kickboxer by origin, Mirko Cro Cop is only the second fighter in the world to have championships in both the mixed martial arts as well as kickboxing arena.
Mirko Cro Cop has signed with numerous promotions during his lustrous MMA career, in turn fighting a plethora of elite competitors. With famous and emphatic wins over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett, Kevin Randleman, and Gabriel Gonzaga, Cro Cop was on the verge of creating a niche for his very own style of fighting. Cro Cop made his UFC debut against Eddie Sanchez at UFC 67, registering his first victory with the promotion. However, Cro Cop’s run with the UFC ended when the Croatian martial artist was suspended for doping by the United States Anti-Doping Agency on November 25th, 2015.
Following his UFC suspension, Cro Cop entered the RIZIN World Grand Prix, where he would go on to become the open-weight champion. Cro Cop then made an appearance on Bellator 216 on February 16th, 2019 against heavyweight rival Roy Nelson, securing a unanimous decision victory over him. After this win, just under three weeks after his Bellator 216 performance, Mirko Cro Cop appeared on Nova TV, a Croatian network, to announce his retirement from mixed martial arts.
Mirko Cro Cop had previously suffered a neck injury, followed by a seizure leading up to his fight against Roy Nelson. Several grave injuries and a recent stroke have supposedly left Mirko Cro Cop with no choice but to hang his gloves up for good, this time. In his statement to Nova TV, he said:
“It’s over. I hope I’m not going to cry, but it’s the inevitable retirement. I will never enter the ring again. I cannot let anyone hit me. I have to have an MRI in three months, and after that I will train again boxing bags, but there is no such thing as a fight.”