Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has finally achieved something he never had up this point in his legendary fight career and has become a world champion. Cro Cop defeated Ismael Londt yesterday in the finals of the 2013 K-1 Grand Prix, held in Zagreb, Croatia.
Prior to the finals, Cro Cop also decisioned Pavel Zhuravlev and Jarrell Miller – a win with some controversy because many observers felt Miller deserved to get the nod from the judges. There was not controversy in the finals, however, as Cro Cop scored a knockdown via left high kick (!) in the second round.
The thirty eight year-old kick boxer, former special forces member and member of Croatia’s Parliament, first fought in K-1 seventeen years ago. He got close but never managed to become champion of the organization’s vaunted Grand Prix before last night. Cro Cop moved on to fight in MMA in Pride and once more got close, twice, to becoming a world champion but on two occasions lost in world title fights – once to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in an interim title bout and once to Fedor Emelianenko.
After the UFC purchased Pride, Cro Cop would go on to fight ten times in the American organization, compiling a 4-6 record and leaving after three straight losses. He has since fought and won once more in MMA competition, this past New Year’s Eve against Shinichi Suzukawa in Japan.
Cro Cop decided to make another run in kickboxing and last night’s home-town win vindicates his decision. Watch his full finals bout in the above video and then highlights of some of our favorite Cro Cop moments after the jump.
(“And he’s nothing without his ground-and-pound. And he’s nothing without his groin strikes, which still haunt my nightmares.”)
After Alistair Overeem‘s upset knockout loss to Antonio Silva at UFC 156, it seemed like every MMA fan on Twitter wanted to be the first to say “Called it!” Overeem, as the narrative goes, has a cat-heart, folds under pressure, doesn’t have the cardio to go three 5-minute rounds, his monstrous physique came from unnatural means, it was just a matter of time before he was exposed as a fraud, and everybody knew it all along. Well, you can add Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to the list of notable Reem-haters. As the legendary striker explained in a recent interview with fightsite.hr, he predicted Bigfoot would beat Overeem, partly because Overeem wasn’t fighting with his usual chemical enhancements. Here’s what Mirko had to say (translation via BloodyElbow):
“I wasn’t surprised by Silva’s victory at all and I had believed he would win. I don’t want to come off as a smart-ass or say I knew it all along, so I’ll explain why I’d believed so. First, Silva is a big tough guy with a huge heart who had demolished Fedor and he needs no better reference than that, and Alistair hugely underestimated him and belittled him with his arrogant statements, so this mobilized Silva in the best possible way. Second, Silva is a natural heavyweight, and Alistair — for the first time since way back in 2007, when he began to gain huge weight — fought without the drugs he had used constantly for years, including testosterone and all the other shit that goes with it.
“Watching the weigh-in, I saw that his muscles mass was nowhere near his usual, he had the weight, but he wasn’t nearly as carved out and defined, since he couldn’t take anything because he was watched by the Athletic Commission. This also reflects on the psyche of a man who’s been using stuff to increase his strength, endurance, pain tolerance and aggressiveness for years, and now there was none of that. Alistair is an excellent fighter, but he still owes that excellence to something that’s dirty and unpermitted, and, in the end, very dangerous to health.
DREAM 18 wasn’t the only Japanese MMA event on New Year’s Eve. Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2012 – a hybrid MMA/Pro-wrestling card – also provided the MMA community with some freak show goodness. We’ve been putting off coverage of this event until videos surfaced because frankly, when the main event features a post-prime Cro Cop vs. a disgraced sumo wrestler turned professional wrestler, well, yeah, this event can wait a few days.
The main event, Cro Cop vs. Suzukawa, proved that no matter how far past his prime he is, Cro Cop can still submit a clueless jabroni making his MMA debut. In other words, it was a decent freak show fight that played out exactly as it should have. It just wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without a freak show fight, now would it?
(Who wants to learn how to maker Tater Tots the *fun* way?)
There are two schools of thought on how a given fighter should end their career in the UFC. The first, and perhaps most honorable method, involves a fighter going out on their shield, fighting until they can fight no more, so to speak. The second involves a fighter talking a ridiculous amount of trash, losing a fight in embarrassing fashion, and throwing a hissy fit backstage that only enforces their bosses decision to fire them. Thankfully, Mirko Cro Cop chose the former method (though he perhaps stuck around a couple fights too long), and after suffering a trio of (T)KO losses to Frank Mir, Brendan Schuab, and Roy Nelson, was ousted from the UFC.
This is not to say that we got any enjoyment out of witnessing the Croatian’s demise, but more so that we were happy to see Cro Cop come to the realization that his career in mixed martial arts had gone as far as it could go. His career in kickboxing, however, has seemingly yet to come to a crashing halt, as Filipvoic managed to pick up a rather impressive second round knockout victory over Loren Javier Jorge at K-1 Rising earlier today in Madrid, Spain.
Cro Cop looked better than we’ve seen him in quite some time, unleashing a few beautiful, snappy head kicks that were nothing short of nostalgic. But the finishing blows did not come as a result of his well-documented kicks, but rather from a series of uppercuts that dropped Jorge a two occasions, the latter of which he could not recover from. Cro Cop looked quick, efficient, and more than anything else, eager to finish the fight when presented the opportunity. Again, it was a very nostalgic experience for both Cro Cop and those who had the privilege of catching the fight.
Being an MMA fan ain’t easy sometimes. Hyped-up fights turn out to be snorefests, scandals damage the sport’s legitimacy, incredible parlay bets get wrecked by incompetent judging, forcing us to explain to our kids once again that Santa Claus most have lost our address this year. On today’s CagePotato Roundtable, we’re discussing the fights and moments that made us want to give up on MMA entirely and follow [*shudder*] baseball for a while. Let us know your own lowest fan-moment in the comments section, and if you have a topic for a future Roundtable column, send it it to email@example.com.
It’s crazy how life goes full circle: When I was ten years old, Doug Flutie was my favorite NFL player. I begged my dad to buy me Flutie Flakes for breakfast, so that I too could grow up and be a successful, albeit undersized quarterback for a small market football team. My dad refused, which explains why I’m now a writer (You’re welcome, Andrew Luck). After all, I was too young to remember the real Doug Flutie, the Heisman Trophy winning Boston College quarterback who helped make the USFL somewhat relevant. Flutie may have still been a talented quarterback — especially for his age — but he had clearly lost a step by the time I started watching football.
Thirteen years later I was on the phone with my dad, talking about one of the most lopsided fights he had ever seen. I spent the entire conversation trying to convince him that the small, pudgy guy he just watched get destroyed by a no-name oddity was at one point the most dangerous fighter on the planet. As you may have guessed, I’m specifically referring to Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva. But really, Fedor’s entire Strikeforce run can be summed up the exact same way. Perhaps Fedor was too old, perhaps the heavyweight division had simply caught up to him, or perhaps it was a combination of the two. But one thing is clear: By the time that Fedor made his way to Strikeforce, he was no longer the untouchable fighter that he had once been.
Even in his lone victory, a second round knockout against Brett Rogers, he was arguably losing the fight before connecting with the fight ending right hand. And Brett Rogers is no Apollo Creed; he’s barely a pimple on the ass of Vodka Drunkenski. He’s a gatekeeper in every sense of the word — just legitimate enough for EliteXC to have kept him away from a “prime” Kimbo Slice, but not legitimate enough to pose any threat of beating a true contender. We had all the warning signs that Fedor was going to be a bust signing after this fight, yet we chose to ignore them because hey, he won, right?
It’s not like Cro Cop has never pondered retirement before, but if last night’s K-1 bout against fellow kickboxing legend Ray Sefo truly marked the end of the road for Mirko Filipovic, then Cro Cop is going out on the highest note possible.
Last night at the Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia, Mirko Filipovic defeated Ray Sefo by unanimous decision in the main event of “Final Fight”. While both men fatigued in the latter rounds, Cro Cop utilized a diverse striking attack and didn’t take too much damage from the heavy handed Sefo on his way to the victory. Was it the most inspiring performance ever? Not quite. Still, it’s nice to see a legend like Cro Cop go out on a victory over a legitimate opponent.
(If anyone can explain what is going on in this photo, we’ll give you Carmen Valentina’s digits.)
After Edson Barboza’s spinning heel kick KO over Terry Etim gave birth to the phrase “falling tree” knockout here on CP, we got to thinking, what other classifications of devastation existed in the MMA highlight-o-sphere? Debates got heated, egos got crushed, and limbs got mangled, but we were eventually able to agree that the next category of KO’s in need of appreciation was that of the “lawn chair.”
What is a “lawn chair” knockout, you ask? Well, it’s that special kind of knockout, perhaps the complete opposite of a “falling tree,” in which the victim’s legs give out from underneath them almost instantaneously after the lethal blow is delivered, often forcing their body to collapse into itself like that of a common lawn chair. And to add insult to injury, the poor son of a bitch often receives an unnecessary strike courtesy of his own knee on the way down. Here are nine of the finest examples, in no particular order.
Chuck Liddell v. Guy Mezger
Ricardo Lamas v. Bendy Casimir
Check out seven more beautiful examples of this phenomena after the jump.
How is it that names like Rousimar Palhares, Gabriel Gonzaga, Jose Aldo, and even Vitor Belfort paled in comparison to Mario Yamasaki? Never mind that Gonzaga finally got a big win or that the Phenom had rebounded from his embarrassing loss to fellow Brazilian Anderson Silva. Yamasaki’s decision to overturn an apparent first round TKO had everyone up in arms.
Most notably incensed by the fight’s result was UFC President Dana White. Steve Mazzagatti could only listen in disbelief as Dana White actually defended a referee that made a mistake. Instead of blaming Yamasaki personally, Dana White rekindled the ever-smoldering topic of instant replay: “There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. There’s nothing wrong. We’re [expletive] human. We’re going to do it. But you have to be able to go back and say, ‘We made a mistake. Here’s the proof. Let’s overturn it.’”
But would the addition of instant replay in MMA really be the answer to botched referee decisions? Or would it create even more unforeseen problems?
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.
(Don’t worry Bob, it can only get better from here. That has to be true at least once in a while.)
Imagine this scenario; you’re an up and coming fighter in the cut-throat world of MMA who’s finally earned his shot at the big time. The packed stadium, the camera crews, the ring girls, they’re all there. And best of all, your fight is about to be broadcast for the world to see. “I’ve made it,” you think as you bathe in the bright lights shining down on you.
But then, before you know what hit you, you’re looking up at a large, possibly Rastafarian man, who’s asking if you know where you are. And for the rest of your life, you are dubbed “that guy who got destroyed by ______ .” No matter what you accomplish, you will always be known for one bump in the road that just about everyone happened to witness. Well, here at CP, we know this story all too well, so we decided to check up on a few of these poor suckers, VH1 style, and find out what they were up to. Because knowing is half the battle. Enjoy.
What he’s been up to: As it turns out, Dos Caras Jr. has actually had a rather successful career since nearly being decapitated by Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic back at PRIDE – Bushido 1. His real name is Alberto Rodriguez, and he actually wasn’t that bad of a fighter. Honestly, considering he both wore a mask and went by a fake name, he was a pretty damn awesome fighter, and easily the most successful. After dropping a unanimous decision to Kazuhiro Nakamura at Pride 27, “Two Faces” went 6-1, with all wins coming by way of stoppage. He even managed to pull out a head kick KO of his own back in 2010 against 3-8 fighter Arthur Bart.
If you decided to play the new CagePotato drinking game this weekend, you’re probably way too hung over to think about your financial future right now. But now that the dust has settled from UFC 137, you owe it to yourself to study our insightful and highly opinionated rundown of where to direct your hypothetical MMA investments. It’s “Buy, Sell, Hold” time once again, Potato Nation…
Even if Baby Jay is pulling a Jamie Varner (man I hope that’s not a euphemism) as Mr. Falvo so eloquently put it, the writing on the wall has been there for a while now even if the majority of fans didn’t bother to read it. BJ announcing his retirement Saturday night may have been a moment of weakness when his emotions got the best of him which led to a rash decision, but let me remind you (just like every other single story you read today about “The Prodigy”) that Penn has went 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The Hawaiian may fight again to collect another paycheck but there is no more money to be made as a shareholder.
(It’s confusing, because in Strikeforce, standing elbow strikes during weigh-ins are totally legal. / Photo via CombatLifestyle. For more photos from this set, click here.)
After five years in the wilderness, Nick Diaz is finally returning to the Octagon tonight, at UFC 137 in Las Vegas. (As expected, Diaz is much, much less excited about this than we are.) His opponent is BJ Penn, a living legend and former two-division UFC champion whose future in the sport very much depends on his performance tonight.
Round-by-round results from the “Penn vs. Diaz” pay-per-view card will be piling up after the jump starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, courtesy of CagePotato liveblog assassin Matt Kaplan. Refresh the page every few minutes for the latest updates; as with our last UFC PPV liveblog, we’ll be including “next page” links to reduce spoilage, so click ‘em as the night goes on. Thanks for being here, and let us know how you feel in the comments section.
(Ah, 2007. A very fine year for gogoplatas. / Photo via Sherdog)
By Ben Goldstein
Over the last two decades, MMA has evolved so consistently that fighters are still finding new and unexpected ways to destroy their opponents — while causing fans to spit their beers in shock. We decided to take a lil’ spin through MMA history and identify the single most awe-inspiring technique from each year since the sport’s modern inception. We expect you to disagree with us; there’s a comments section just for that purpose. And away we go…
1993:Royce Gracie’s Rear-Naked Choke vs. Ken Shamrock @ UFC 1, 11/12/93
(Fight starts at the 3:54 mark)
You have to remember that in the early ’90s, a well-placed roundhouse kick to the head was considered the pinnacle of martial arts. What Royce Gracie introduced to fight fans in his early UFC run was something much more practical, less flashy, and a little bit scary. Gracie’s submission of Ken Shamrock — and the similar hold he used to stop Gerard Gordeau in the finals — proved that skill beat size, and pajamas beat man-panties.
1994: Dan Severn’s Suplexes vs. Anthony Macias @ UFC 4, 12/16/94
It’s hard to define someone like Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, a man who is perhaps the most multi-faceted, not to mention intriguing figure in MMA. Aside from his incredible list of credentials including time in both the Croatian elite Special Forces Unit and Parliament, the man has amassed a mixed martial arts and kickboxing resume that reads like a Hall of Fame list in either sport.
But come Saturday night at UFC 137, Cro Cop will simply be fighting for the right to continue his career, or maybe just to end it on his own terms. In a way, Filipovic is kind of like the Metallica of the heavyweights, with his 2006 Pride Grand Prix win being his Master of Puppets. And, like Metallica, everything since then has been well…just kind of downhill. The devastating loss to Gabriel Gonzaga was his ReLoad, the bittersweet win over Pat Barry his Death Magnetic, and the back-to-back knockout losses to Frank Mir and Brendan Schuab his Lulu. Except, unlike Lulu, those losses only felt like an hour and a half of pure shit.
UFC 137 is just around the bend, and since the lineup has made more changes than a MTV awards show host, we figured we’d lay out the current odds before something else horrible happens. So, courtesy of BestFightOdds.com, check out the sweetest lines available, along with our time tested advice below.
PPV Main Card
B.J. Penn (-115) vs. Nick Diaz (-105)
Matt Mitrione (-135) vs. Cheick Kongo (+115)
Roy Nelson (-290) vs. Mirko Filipovic (+245)
Hatsu Hioki (-330) vs. George Roop (+270)
There is no line yet available for the recently bumped up Tavares/Jacoby fight.
Spike TV Prelims
Donald Cerrone (-225) vs. Dennis Siver (+185)
Tyson Griffin (-290) vs. Bart Palaszewski (+245)
The undercard odds have yet to be released as well, but we only bet big here, so forgeddaboutit!
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s nine-fight UFC career has been one of can-crushing highs and head-rattling lows. After suffering consecutive knockout loses against Frank Mir and Brendan Schaub, Dana White claimed that we’d seen the last of Cro Cop in the UFC. But DW had a change of heart yesterday, telling reporters that he owes Filipovic another fight, and the 36-year-old Croatian veteran will be returning to the Octagon. As he explained:
Following a year’s worth of layoffs due to surgery on his knee and hips, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueiraannounced this weekend that he’d be returning to action at UFC 134 (aka ‘UFC Rio‘) on August 27th. He didn’t name an opponent, but said that he’s “looking forward to fighting in the co-main event.” His longtime training partner Anderson Silva will be headlining the show against Yushin Okami.
No matter who you’re rooting for at UFC 128, you’re all but guaranteed an exciting night of fights that have the potential to launch some careers and end others. Luckily for lazy writers everywhere, many of the bouts line up perfectly with tried and true analysis that’s been written a hundred times before. Here’s a half-hearted breakdown of tonight’s action, joined by your blisteringly accurate predictions in the comments section.
The UFC 128 weigh-ins just went down at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and all 24 fighters hit their marks without incident. Seriously, there wasn’t even any shoving or uncomfortable nose-mashing. Oh well. Full results continue after the jump. Don’t forget to come back to CagePotato.com tomorrow night for our liveblog of the action!
PPV MAIN CARD
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (205) vs. Jon Jones (205)
Urijah Faber (135.5) vs. Eddie Wineland (135.5)
Nate Marquardt (186) vs. Dan Miller (185)
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (229) vs. Brendan Schaub (245)
Jim Miller (155.5) vs. Kamal Shalorus (155)
(“When you lose one fight it’s a bad night, but when you lose three it’s a shitty night.” – Wittman on what’s at stake this weekend.)
One of the most respected striking coaches in the game, Trevor Wittman, will have his hands full on March 19th, with three of his fighters competing at the long anticipated UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones event in Newark, New Jersey. Eliot Marshall will look to make a successful return to the UFC against Luiz “Banha” Cane, Nate Marquardt will square off against Dan Miller, and Brendan Schaub will face the toughest challenge of his career against the legendary Mirko Cro Cop.
Wittman is a head coach at the Grudge Training Center, which is located at the City of Wheat Ridge, suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Grudge Training Center is represented by top ranked MMA fighters such as Nate Marquardt, Brendan Schaub, Gerald Harris, Shane Carwin and many others. Here’s what Trevor Wittman had to say about the upcoming UFC 128 fight card, the evolution of Mixed Martial Arts, ZUFFA’s purchase of Strikeforce and much more.
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones goes down March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, and we’ve got the extended trailer for your viewing pleasure. Personally, I’m already a little burned out on watching the main eventers’ fight highlights and hearing the crusty old “youth vs. experience” debate. If you are too, just skip to the 4:51 mark to hear more about two other fights that aren’t getting nearly enough attention.
As Japanese MMA seems to slowly dwindle away from the glory days of the sport, hardcore fans like myself shed a tear for our great loss. It wasn’t just knowing those obscure 135-pounders whose names had syllables our gaijin tongues could barely pronounce, or the fact that it was the land where stomping and soccer-kicking a human being in the face was perfected into a sweet science. More than that, it was the stars that were produced that we came to know and love, whether they were fighting someone on their level or tearing open a tomato can — and that is where this list begins.
Blatant mismatches aside, JMMA gave us so many beautiful fights with men like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic (go tell your favorite TUF noob that his last name is not Crocop and relish in their confusion), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ikuhisa Minowa and Kazushi Sakuraba. For every epic bout that went into the history books for their unbelievable drama, we had other fights that we remember for less than pleasant reasons. Yes, the freak show fights! What would a JMMA event be without a match worthy of a 1930′s carnival? The big question here was how do I rank something that is mediocre to begin with? Well, I’m as clueless as you are, so let’s get started on this journey down “Freak Show Lane,” across the street from “What Were They Thinking? Boulevard”…
10. Daiju Takase vs. Emmanuel Yarbrough
Pride 3, 6/24/98
This was the first freak show fight in Pride history, and earns a place on this list for that merit alone. It pit 169 lb. Daiju Takase against 600 lb. Emmanuel Yarbrough, who most fans will recall was clobbered into submission by Keith Hackney and his broken hand at UFC 3 (Yarbrough has no luck in any event associated with the number three). The sumo plodded around the ring tossing his hamhock arms at Takase, while the smaller Japanese fighter fled and slowly wore down Yarbrough.
Takase makes the mistake of going for a lazy single leg on Yarbrough, which results in the large fighter flopping onto his belly and absorbing Takase into his flesh. As Stephen Quadros lamented, “This is horrible! This is like “Jaws!” Eventually, Takase slid out from the greasy underside of Manny, and in an ending eerily similiar to his UFC 3 fight, Takase went to town with clubbing hands to his exhausted opponent’s face, leading to a tapout in the middle of the second round.
As has been noted on this website in the past, we can only assume that it is really, really hard for anyone – even actual Croatians – to find Croatian-to-English interpreters. Either that, or whoever is doing it for www.CroCop.info is just totally half-assing it. As you can see with your own two eyes, the “English” subtitles on the above video only make “sense” in a highly impressionistic, inexplicit kind of a way. If the translation can be trusted at all, it purports to be a local news report about our guy Mirko, where he insists that he is healthy headed into 2011 and “can hardly wait” to see some kind of the positive return on the “investments” (we assume he’s talking physical and financial here) that he’s made in training.
Also, we’re not sure if we should just laugh or be kind of legitimately mad about the 20 second span from the 52-second mark to 1:12 when the subtitles drop off entirely and the words “About Croatian Politics” appear on the screen in red type. Look, are we interested in Croatian politics? Hell no, but we’d like the opportunity to make the decision for ourselves. We don’t need CroCop being our Jack Valenti, but it’s whatever, on to the fighting stuff.
(One of the few moments on Saturday when Travis Browne wasn’t in danger of getting his nuts demolished. Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com)
Though many UFC fighters have gotten bad reputations for everything from eye-poking to greasing, nobody’s as consistently rotten as heavyweight Cheick Kongo, who put on another notorious performance against Travis Browne at UFC 120. Kongo started things off in the second round by launching his trademark strike — a knee to the balls, straight up the middle — and wound up costing himself the victory in the third frame when he continued to grab Browne’s shorts despite warnings from the ref; the resulting point-deduction led to a unanimous 28-28 judges’ decision. At this point, it’s pretty much indisputable that Kongo is the dirtiest fighter currently on the UFC roster. Who could forget his other career highlights…