UFC 99 in Germany this Saturday will answer many questions. Can the German media look past the label that MMA is “human cockfighting” and see it as the legitimate sport it has become? Will Marcus Davis and Dan Hardy kiss and make up after their scheduled 3 round battle? And the most important question on the minds of most fans will be, who’s career is hurt more by a loss – Mirko Cro Cop or Wanderlei Silva?
2 and a half years ago Cro Crop was the second best heavyweight in the world behind Fedor. He had become the Pride Open Weight championby beating Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same night and both by brutal strikes. The UFC signed him immediately after and he was hyped as the next great heavyweight. Then he went out and disappointed everyone. He lost 2 of 3, including a brutal devastating head kick to Gabriel Gonzaga and left the UFC at the end of 2007. Outside the UFC he faced mediocre competition going 2-0-1 and his only real test was a No Contest to the reinvented Alistair Overeem where he looked lackluster to say the least.
Now Cro Cop is back in the UFC and in his words he wants to “work his way back to the title”. He will face Mustapha Al Turkat UFC 99 and one can’t help but wonder what happens to Cro Cop’s incredible career if he loses this fight. Does he retire? Where would he go from there - except down?
A fighter the same situation is Wanderlei Silva, who has lost 4 of 5. Although his losses have all come against top 10 fighters, Silva has been knocked out badly in 3 of the 4 and his last KO loss to Rampage Jackson was the worst of them all. The man once considered the greatest fighter in the world for his weight class, now has to face the harsh criticism that Saturday night may be his last fight in the UFC.
He will face Rich Franklinat a catch weight of 195 lbs and this fight will undoubtedly determine the remainder of Silva’s storied career. A loss may set the legend up for retirement and a win will put him right in the mix for Anderson Silva’s title.
MMA is an interesting and often times fickle sport. One win or loss can propel you into obscurity or right into a main event title shot. Silva and Cro Cop know this all too well. They will be fighting for a win on Saturday, but more importantly fighting for the continuation of their careers. A loss to either of them will crush their long term fighting plans, but one has to wonder who does a loss hurt more, Cro Cop or Silva?