Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović makes his return to the UFC tomorrow in Poland, when he will face Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga at UFC Fight Night 64.
He’s been off the map for North American fans, but enjoyed a few MMA wins in Japan since leaving the UFC in 2011, following a loss to Roy Nelson (pictured above).
So, many fans are hoping to see a return to form for the now 40 year old fighting legend, whose trademark high kicks — once famously dubbed, “right leg hospital, left leg cemetery” — helped earned him 53 total wins in professional kickboxing and mixed martial arts competition.
In fact, in an interview published yesterday at The Telegraph, Cro Cop told British journalist Gareth Davies that he believes the rules of MMA should encourage more standup fighting, with less action on the mat.
“I don’t like ground and pound too much,” he explained. “I do it in a fight, of course, but it looks brutal. It’s not a good image for the sport. Something should be changed in MMA – the rules should be changed a little bit. Fighting on the ground should be restricted because sometimes it looks really brutal.”
The Croatian specified that the common UFC tactic of landing elbow strikes to the head should be outlawed.
“I think elbows should be forbidden because they cause a lot of blood,” he continued. “Many people don’t want to see blood. They want to see skill, art. They want to see good kicking, punching, submissions, not blood.”
Elbows to the head were outlawed in the PRIDE organization where Cro Cop made his name in MMA back in the early 2000’s. They played a significant role in the Croatian’s knockout loss to Gonzaga in their first bout, back in 2007 at UFC 70.
But he has since adjusted his training, and calls himself the favorite to win in their rematch tomorrow, noting: “Of course I will beat him.”
UFC Fight Night 65 is broadcast on UFC Fight Pass tomorrow at 11:45 am ET.