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:
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.
Not every fighter is blessed with the charisma of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson or Jason "Mayhem" Miller. While Cro Cop may resemble Robocop when it comes to showing emotion, he more than makes up for it with the entertainment value and the action his matches offer.
I have another word of advice for UFC fans, and that's to just enjoy Cro Cop's dynamic performances in the cage and not sweat the small stuff.
News and notes
• I do have one issue with Cro Cop's debut, which was his request to enter into the Octagon with the PRIDE theme as a backdrop. Cro Cop chose to make the UFC his new employer and is being handsomely rewarded for his decision, so there has to be some degree of assimilation. I'm not buying the excuse of cultural differences, because choosing the theme song of your new employer's chief rival as entrance music is just wrong no matter where you're from.
• Cro Cop confirmed in a recent interview that his next fight will indeed be at UFC 70 on April 21. The card is set for Manchester, England, and is starting to take shape. In addition to Cro Cop, rumors are swirling that a rematch between Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz could headline the card. Elvis Sinosic is also being talked about as a possible opponent for Michael Bisping, and according to Steve Sievert of the Houston Chronicle, Andrei Arlovski and Cheick Kongo are slated for the card.
• Hats off to the UFC for their signing of lightweight Frank Edgar. I knew very little about Edgar heading into his fight this past weekend against Tyson Griffin but was blown away by his performance. He recorded a solid victory over a strong opponent and has a bright future in the UFC. I believe Griffin has the potential to be a future UFC lightweight champion, so it's only logical I think the same of Edgar. The two will have a rematch and when they do, it will headline a PPV instead of being an undercard match shown on tape delay.
• UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner was a guest on The Scott Ferrall Show on Sirius Satellite Radio this past weekend. Ratner revealed the UFC is looking at holding an event on Nov. 3 at the Continental Airlines Arena in northern New Jersey. Ratner also said the UFC is looking to have Chuck Liddell fight again on a card scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend.