The co-main event of Bellator 216 is a rematch years in the making between Mirko Cro Cop and Roy Nelson and Cro Cop does not plan on falling to Big Country a second time.
New York, NY — Mirko Cro Cop is a true MMA legend who is not quite done crafting his legacy, proven by his incredible openweight tournament win in 2016. He will now be making his promotional debut at Bellator 216 against an opponent who defeated him in the UFC back in 2011, Roy Nelson. One factor that is on Cro Cop’s side though, is the fact that he has never lost in the six rematches in his career. To continue that run, the Croatian will do whatever he needs.
“I will do whatever. If it goes to points, it goes to points. If I see an opportunity to finish the fight, I will finish the fight.”
While Mirko wasn’t focused on the career of Nelson after they met, Cro Cop studied his recent fights to get a feel for what to expect when he steps in with “Big Country” on Saturday.
“Nothing impressive. But Nelson is always tough. He’s heavy, a good grappler, good jiu-jitsu, good takedowns. He can take plenty of punches. That’s his biggest advantage. He can swallow what no one else can. But I’m in good shape and I’m not worried at all.”
This fight was originally scheduled for Bellator 200, but an injury pulled the legend out of the bout. Now, less than a year removed from the injury, he is ready to go.
“I broke my ACL during the last training of the preparation. I had to go for surgery a few days later. I spent the summer recovering.”
There have been two times in the career of Mirko Cro Cop where he stepped away from the sport of MMA. This is not due to a lack of motivation though, as Cro Cop still believes he has time left in this game.
“That’s a normal thing that people announce a retirement and then come back. I think that’s normal in this business. Some people don’t get it. I definitely won’t be able to fight too long. I’m 44, I feel good, but there is a time limit for everybody. Some of us reach that limit at 33, 34, some reach it at 45, 46, 44, 40. It depends on the way you are living. If you smoke, if you train every day or you’re just preparing for the training camp, so many things. Plus genetics, everything.”
Much has been made of the muscular figure of Mirko Cro Cop ahead of this bout. He believes this is simply an effect of aging.
“It’s not changing [my training]. I’m a lot older now. My metabolism is slower. Back when I was fighting in my PRIDE days I was 102, 103 kg (225 pounds). Now I am 110 (~240 pounds).”
The prediction of Cro Cop is a very simple one, and one that struck the fear into many hearts during his prime.
“I came here to beat him. Any way I can.”
Bellator 216 takes place Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. EST on Paramount Network. Cageside Press will be at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, to provide live coverage when Mirko Cro Cop fights Roy Nelson in the co-main event.