Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Thanks to Robert, I am able to post an interview with CroCop originally done in Croatian. You can check out site here:UFC 101 odds.
Crocop goes into detail of his future and why he deceided to leave Japan.
Q: Is the contract that everyone has been talking about these past 10 days a done deal ?
A:Yes. I'm glad to be with the UFC. My first fight will take place in Dallas on August 19th against Junior Dos Santos.
Q: Why the UFC, and not Japan? Why the change of heart?
A: The UFC has became the only global fight organization, it is the strongest MMA organization in the world. Unfortunately DREAM could not emulate PRIDE where i was fighting, while on the other side UFC has grown in every respect. At this moment Japan can't compete, neither financially or with its fighters.
Q: Are you sad to leave? The impression was that you always preferred ring over the cage?
A: Of course I'm sad to leave. All that I’ve achieved, I’ve achieved in Japan. I don't owe it to PRIDE nor DREAM but to the Japanese fans, which very much appreciate and respect.I hope that they can understand my decision. In these times of global recession, I don't see anyone coming even close to the Americans. Maybe they will in a few years but i doubt i'll be around then.
Q: Your opponent is already confirmed. How much do you know about Junior Dos Santos, and how did the fight eventuate ?
A: My UFC chose the opponent for me as has always been the case. Dane White said that I will be fighting Dos Santos and I said that's fine. He is a young lion, an upcoming star, with Cain Velasquez being the biggest one. I know he trains with Minotauro, that he is a very good boxer and excellent grappler. I watched his KO against Werdum and his last fight which he also won by KO. All in all he is a great fighter, someone not to be underestimates but I expect a win. [Editors note: UFC 101 odds and UFC 103 are already out. Currently Cro Cop is a slight betting favorite at -130 over Dos Santos]
Q:Your goal is the UFC Heavyweight belt. Who is next after Dos Santos?
A: I'll take it one fight at a time but my ultimate goal is the belt. My second fight should be scheduled around New Years Eve but we will see how will I recover and prepare after Dos Santos. There is even one possibility that i might enter a ring on January 4th. I don't know, its this challenge first and then I’ll see what's next.
Q: How do you see a UFC HW competition? Winning the belt won't be easy task.
A: The competition is extremely strong. There are a couple of legends like Couture and Minotauro, but also a strong fighters like Lesnar,Mir,Velasquesa, Carwina..Like i said ,i take it fight by fight and be focused on what's next.
Q: I guess you watched recent fight for ''unification'' of the heavyweight title against Lesnar and Mir? Is that what you expected??
A:I didn't expect anything but i have to point out that his win was a loss to the fight game as such. Don't get me wrong, Lesnar is difficult opponent and very dangerous but me as an old school fighter still prefer technique. Its a step back for MMA .Mostly what he has been able to achieve is due to strength and in any case ground and pound is not really crowd pleasing. Of course Lesnar has quality sparing partners, he is an experienced wrestler and a man who learns very quick. He has few fights under him but I'd like to see how would he react to 2 to 3 good low kicks.
Q:While we're at low kicks,how's your knee?
A: My leg and knee are excellent. Its getting better and better, and it should be perfect come September. There should be no problems.
Q: Fertitta's visit is proof of your hight standing in the MMA world. Were you surprised by his visit?
A:I don't know why did Fertitta decided to visit me personally, but I'm very glad he did. I'm deeply surprised with him as a person .I only had chance to meet him once before ,but this time we spent close to six hours together. He is extremely modest and down to earth.
Q:Do you think that you are important to UFC because of its plans for Europe and Asia?
A:I know little about their plans ,and i would not want to speculate. Like i said ,I'm a fighter, they are my employers, so I'd like to leave the reasons to them.
Q:How did Dream react when you made your choice? Did they make any last ditch attempts to win you back?
A: Certainly they did,and they're sad to let me go .And i'm sad to go but I had to leave for a greater challenge. Not only that but finically too, the UFC offer was simply greater. One cannot even compare the two belts, it would be laughable .It was different once, when Pride belt meant a lot, today its a different story.
Q: You are still a big star in Japan, bigger than in UFC.
A: I'm very sorry for Japanese audience. I did not want to disappoint them, and if i never fight in Japan again, i can only say that I had my happiest moments there .I made my name over there and experienced the most beautiful things from that nation.But life is life, couldnt say no to the UFC offer.
Q: Although they have many great names under contract, UFC still can't force the best of the best,Fedor Emelianenko,to enter the cage?
A: Fedor probably has his reasons, and I respect that, and wouldn't want to talk much about that. He is a man that I truly appreciate and respect. He's a very nice guy. Of course I would be glad should he ever come to the UFC because that would open the possibility of a rematch. That fight is still a big hope of mine.
Q: Have you worked out your problems with Dana White?
A: Dana is my employer, and at the end of the day he has a really tough job. I’m just sorry that some people said some things behind my back. I was a free agent on the market. Everybody knows the contract that counts is the one with the signature. There were never any problems there.
Q: Is it true that you called Dana about 600 times after it was announced that you're signing for DREAM?
A: That bothered me very much. I don't know why he said that when that never happened. It's not even close to the truth because I never called him .I only sent him a text message saying that i wanted to talk to him and fix any issues, if there where any, i certainly did not call him. I don't know his reasons, but with that statement he presented me in a negative light. He presented me like a badger and butt kisser. I would call anyone that many times. With that statement he disrespected me indirectly.