Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Five ounces of pain: Just appreciate Cro Cop's fighting

By Sam Caplan

I have a word of advice for newer fans of mixed martial arts who were a little put off by Mirko Cro Cop's UFC debut this past weekend: Relax.

To steal a line from Star Wars, Mirko is more machine than man.

Yes, Cro Cop looked about as excited to be in the UFC as Wolf Blitzer is to be on television, but there's no need to take his lack of emotion personally; he sported the same expression during almost all of his fights for PRIDE -- win or lose.

Cultural differences could also be to blame.

At the risk of making a broad generalization, not every culture offers as much flamboyance as the U.S. or Japan. Eastern European MMA fighters and boxers such as Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, Nikolai Valuev and Oleg Maskaev are commonly all business when it comes to their fights.

UFC president Dana White did make it a point to say during a UFC 67 post-fight press conference that he wasn't happy with Cro Cop not being accessible the fans, but I'm sure White is plenty satisfied with Cro Cop's domination of Eddie Sanchez. White wasn't upset enough with him to prevent Cro Cop from being added to the UFC 70 card on April 21.

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