Photo via UFC.com
Tonight (Sat., Oct. 29, 2011) may very well mark the end of an era.
That's because one of the co-main event fights at UFC 137: "Penn vs. Diaz" in Las Vegas, Nevada, will feature Mirko Filipovic taking on Roy Nelson in what will likely be "Cro Cop's" final bout inside the Octagon.
And maybe his final mixed martial arts match-up.
The 37-year-old Pride legend is finally ready to say goodbye to the sport that made him famous. After over 60 career combat contests, who could blame him? He's not nearly as fast as he used to be, not as quick and definitely not as lethal.
It's not that he's softened in his older age, so much as his natural abilities have slowly seeped out of his body. There are bigger things to worry about now, like raising his kids and taking care of his family.
Fighting seems so small in comparison.
Having lost his last two bouts by way of crushing knockout, UFC President Dana White has already proclaimed he will not renew Filipovic's contract, which comes up later this evening. The boss wasn't actually going to give him this fight against Nelson, but had a late change of heart.
Why not give him one more chance to prove, as he says he will, that he's still "Cro Cop," purveyor of destruction?
Standing in the way of a storybook ending is Roy Nelson, the jokester who constantly riles up his employers thanks to his happy-go-lucky demeanor and steadfast refusal to shed some of his excess baggage.
And by baggage I mean belly.
Yes, the fatman is still fat but at least for this fight he's slimmed down considerably. Despite that, he couldn't help but don a fat suit for the weigh-ins, always playful and amusing despite his situation.
"Big Country" doesn't have a lot of reasons to smile at present time. Sure, he's still employed by the largest and most successful mixed martial arts organization but a loss tonight likely brings an end to the gravy train.
He's lost two in a row already; three strikes and you're out. Hey, he's no Dan Hardy.
Every fight is important due, quite simply, to the fact that ... well ... it's a fight. It's unpredictable in nature and there's no telling what can happen once the big boys get to throwing heavy leather around.
Nothing lasts forever, ladies and sirs. Let's enjoy it while we still can.