Inglewood, Calif.: Although he won't admit to it, Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller is starting to get under Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's skin. The Croatian legend, who seems to have the same feeling for doing media as most of us do about going to the dentist, was clearly getting agitated by Miller's comments/antics during the press conference for GLORY 17 at The Forum on Thursday afternoon.
I happened to be privy to being in the Sheraton Gateway Hotel lobby earlier in the day when Miller started trash talking Filipovic. The Brooklyn boxer was coming around the corner and when he saw "Cro Cop" he shouted out "Cocoa Cop is in the house." Filipovic, who was accompanied by his manager Orsot Sovko, turned to look and gave a smile that seemed to be filled with dreams of hitting Miller's head with a high kick on Saturday evening, hidden behind it.
When asked about Miller's trash talk at the presser, Filipovic was dismissive, saying, "To tell you the truth, I don't care too much. Everybody has his own style. I don't like it personally, but if he sees that as a good way to promote himself, to put himself in media, I agree, but personally I don't like it."
Before another question was asked, Miller chimed in with a "boooooo," which resulted in the room erupting into laughter. "Talk is talk and a fight is a fight," Filipovic would say shortly after. "He can talk anything he likes if it makes him relaxed and happy."
The first time the two fought was in Zagreb, Croatia, last year in the opening round of a K-1 tournament that saw ''Cro Cop" win by unanimous decision in a fight that Miller, along with media and fans, felt was an out-and-out robbery. In recent interviews, "Cro Cop" explained that he was much more reserved in that fight because he was concerned with the possibility of having to fight two more times afterward.
His game plan will be different this time out.
"The strategy is to kick his ass and I will use my kicks, of course, much more than in the previous fight," Filipovic said to MMAmania.com before Miller started to speak out of turn.
"Don't interrupt me please," Filipovic issued a stern warning. "Come and see in two days. Maybe you will see me knock him out or maybe he will take care of me. You will have to wait and see."
"He ain't knocking me out," Miller replied before saying he would "kick the shit out of him."
After the press conference was over, I managed to get a quick couple of minutes with "Cro Cop," but when asked about Miller's words starting to get to him, he omitted his opponent from the list of things he wished to discuss.
"I don't care. I don't want actually to talk about him," said Filipovic about his opponent. "What I got to say I will say in the ring. I don't want to talk about Miller; he doesn't deserve it."
The kickboxing and MMA icon said he was "sick of explaining" the different approaches of when he fought Miller in the opening round of a tournament and how he will fight him at GLORY 17, but he reluctantly agreed.
"I was supposed to fight three fights if I wanted to take the tournament," Filipovic explained. "Now it's just a single fight and I will be much more relaxed. I don't have to think if I am going to hurt my leg or not, or if I have to stay away from the injuries if I want to keep fighting two more fights. It's definitely different, I believe."
In his GLORY debut, "Cro Cop" lost a questionable majority decision to the recently-retired Remy Bonjasky. The hometown crowd at Zagreb Arena broke out in a chorus of boos when the decision was read for Bonjasky and afterward, Filipovic would skip the post-fight press conference.
"Last fight with Remy was a good fight, but the judges saw it differently than I did and many people in the arena saw it differently, but it's the sport and I have to respect the judges' decision and I'm a sportsman," he said. "It's behind me and I don't care anymore. I would've been more happy if decision was a different one. I don't care. It's behind me. It happened three, four months ago and I'm ready for this. It will be a good fight."
The last time he fought in the states, Filipovic lost by technical knockout to Roy Nelson at UFC 137 in October of 2011. However, GLORY 17 will actually be his American kickboxing debut. "It's always a bitch, nine hour time difference," he said. "But that's my job."
According to the 39-year-old Filipovic, the fight game has "nothing to do with years," and the decision to stop fighting will "come by itself," or "when I'm too lazy to wake up every morning to train," he joked. As of right now he is "still having fun," just maybe not at press conferences and during interviews.
"Anyone can be the last one, or I can do 20 more," he said very matter-of-factly. "I don't know. Anyone of us can get hurt with training or the fight. Anything can happen, this is a tough sport."