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…