By Ryan Ventura
When I was ten years old my uncle bought me a brand new Playstation game that helped blossom my love and interest in combat sports. K-1 Revenge came out in 1999 and it introduced me to many kickboxing legends that I admire and still enjoy watching today. Names like Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts, the late Andy Hug, Mike Bernardo, and many more. One name in the game that really stood out to me at the time was Mirko Tiger. Not because of his style or the way he played, but it was his name itself that I just found to be very cool. He wasn’t the best fighter in the game, but the ring announcer mentioning the name ‘Mirrrrrkooooooo Tiiiiggggeeeerr’ has always stuck in my head.
Eventually I got older, found out that his real name was Mirko Filipovic, became more familiar with his kickboxing accomplishments, and of course his run in PRIDE. The man who would later be best known as ‘Cro Cop’ began his kickboxing career in 1996 following in the footsteps of fellow Croatian legend Branco Cikatic. The southpaw of course got the nickname Cro Cop from his days working as a commando in the Croatian polilce anti-terrorism unit.