MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: CroCop Announces Retirement

crocopMMA’s heavyweight division has undergone a massive transformation over the course of the past few months. The greatest heavyweight in MMA history, Fedor Emelianenko, announced that he would be returning to the sport on the upcoming Rizin MMA card in Japan. Then, perhaps the heavyweight with the greatest resume of all-time, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, announced his retirement due to years of injuries and mounting losses. Then late last night, the final member of PRIDE’s big three heavyweights made his splash. Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic simultaneously announced that he was pulling out of his UFC Fight Night 79 co-main event and retiring from the sport. This time, it was a shoulder injury that forced the 41-year-old from his fight, and ultimately into retirement. The former PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix and K-1 World Grand Prix champion noted on his website that the build-up of injuries over his nearly 80-fight career was simply too much to maintain through his most recent training camp. After two disappointing UFC runs in the past, CroCop had already retired from MMA once to make a return to kickboxing. After three victories — including qualifying for the 2012 K-1 WGP Finals — CroCop returned to MMA in Japan. He was victorious, and returned to finish out his kickboxing career with the K-1 title and a few other high profile bouts in GLORY. CroCop then moved back to MMA, and avenged his first UFC loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in what ended up being his final fight. While CroCop announced his departure from the sport, another fighter’s return was made official. Former UFC bantamweight title challenger Michael McDonald will compete for the first time since December 2013, when he takes on Masanori Kanehara at UFC 195. McDonald’s last appearance was against Urijah Faber, where he was stopped in the second round by submission. Prior to that McDonald had defeated Brad Pickett and lost to Renan Barao in his title challenge. The matchup seems well-suited to McDonald’s skills, as Kanehara has been susceptible to knockout in the past, and that will certainly be what the 24-year-old will be looking for against the Japanese fighter’s more grappling-centric style. In other news, WSOF 25 is set for an 8-man lightweight tournament. The event will take place in Phoenix, Arizona next Friday, rather than the originally scheduled venue in Seattle — which is a commission that doesn’t allow tournaments. The tournament features names like Luis Palomino, Brian Foster, Mike Ricci, former UFC title challenger Jorge Patino, and prospect Islam Mamedov.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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