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Mirko Cro-Cop Filipovic
The Croation Sensation!
"Right leg - hospital. Left leg - cemetery." This is Cro-Cop's personal quote describing his devastating leg kicks. This man's legs are like tree trunks. He is one of the most powerful strikers MMA has to offer. He's fought in K1, PrideFC, UFC, and DREAM.
He boasts an impressive 16 wins and 7 losses with 11 of the wins being TKO in kickboxing, 25 wins, 7 losses, 2 draws, and 1 no contest, with 19 of the wins being TKO in MMA, and a record of 40 wins 5 losses with 31 of his wins by TKO in amateur boxing.
Mirko Filipovic was born September 10, 1974 in Vinkovci, Croatia. He was a commando in the Croatian police anti-terrorist unit Alpha long before setting his sites on fighting. In short, he was a bad-ass before he was a bad-ass. He was also elected to the Croatian Parliament until his term ended in 2007. He has a wife, Klaudija, and a son, Ivan and they live in the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb.
Before turning pro, Cro Cop was an amateur boxer with an incredibly impressive record of 40 wins and 5 losses. He knocked out 31 of those opponents. Before the nickname "Cro-Cop" stuck, he was known as "Tigar" (yes, I meant to spell it that way; he's Croatian, remember?) and would enter the ring the the music of Duran Duran. Ok, so not everything's perfect about him...
Anyway - He finally entered his first professional bout at age 22 in the promotion K1, known for kickboxing. The event was called The K1 World Grand Prix and it was an elimination tournament. He only made it to the second round of the tournament before being beaten by Ernesto Hoost. Three years after that, he came back to KO his first opponent, Ricky "Tank" Nicholson, but once again lost in the second round to Xhavit Bajrami. Even though he lost, he was a wildcard pick and came back to defeat the well known kickboxer Mike Bernardo! After he beat that guy, he beat two more guys before being stopped again by Hoost. After the fact, he announced that he entered the fight with Hoost with a broken rib.
His career was then dotted with notable wins, including becoming the very first to defeat the monster "The Beast" Bob Sapp. Not only did he defeat him, he fractured his orbital bone (the bone around the eye) with a left punch! That put his name on the map! In the next couple of years, he would beat quite a few more opponents before deciding to leave K1 for Pride with a record of 16 wins and 7 losses. 11 wins were by knockout.
In the year 2001, Cro Cop decided he wasn't being paid enough in K1, so he left for the Japanese promotion, Pride. He also dropped his job in the anti-terrorist group a year later. Even though he was moving to Pride, he still fought in K1 from time to time, and won quite a few big fights.
His first fight in MMA was against Kazuyuki Fujita and he won via TKO.
Mirko's first fight in Pride was against Nobuhiko Takada. The rules stated that if the bout went to decision, it would end in a draw, which it did.
His next fight was against the "Axe Muderer" Wanderlei Silva and had the same rules as the first one. It, too, ended in a draw.
The next fight would be one for the history books. Mirko Cro-Cop versus Kazushi Sakuraba. Cro-Cop won by fracturing the orbital bone of Sakuraba. Ouch.
His next fight would be a rematch with Fujita and he would win via decision.
His next fights were:
Heath Herring - won via TKO (kicks to the body)
Igor Vovchanchyn - won via TKO (devastating head kick)
Dos Caras Jr. - won via TKO (devastating head kick)
Interim Heavyweight title fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - lost via submission (armbar)
After his bout with Nogueira, Mirko confided in Bas Rutten that he underestimated Nogueira. So he recruited Fabricio Werdum to train him on grappling skills.
Yoshihisa Yamamoto - won via KO
Ron Waterman - won via TKO
In his next fight with Kevin Randleman, Cro-Cop was Ko'd in the first round. He would avenge his loss later with a submission on Randleman in 2004.
He goes on to win his next 7 fights against guys like Josh Barnett, Ibragim Magomedev, Mark Coleman, and the champ's brother - Aleksander Emelianenko (via head kick).
Mirko was hounding Pride to give him a shot at the title held by Fedor Emelianenko and they finally gave in. The fight was scheduled for August 28, 2005. Cro-Cop lost via decision and later said he came to the fight completely exhausted.
Rematch with Josh Barnett - won via unanimous decision
Mark Hunt - lost via split decision
After his fight with Hunt, there was much speculation that Mirko had injured feet when he entered the fight, and he seemed winded in his last few fights. He finally agreed to take a rest period to heal up and improve his cardio.
His next fights would be for Pride's 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix to determine a champion. He beat Ikuhisa Minowa via TKO, Hidehiko Yoshida via TKO, Wanderlei Silva via TKO, and Josh Barnett via submission. He finally became the champion! He made the statement that if he hadn't won the tournament, he wouldn't be fighting again.
Finally, Dana White saw what a gem he had in Cro-Cop and scooped him up. He was offered a two year, six fight contract. He was to make his debut against Eddie Sanchez and won via TKO.
The next fight was one of my most hated fights ever. EVER!!! Mirko Cro Cop versus Gabriel Gonzaga. I was anticipating this fight and was incredibly excited to see one of my favorite fighters get back in the ring, rip roaring, ready, I'm telling you! In the first round, Gonzaga knocked Cro Cop out with an amazing left high head kick. He stole Cro Cop's move.
Cro Cop lost his next fight to Cheick Kongo due to unanimous decision.
A Visit To Japan
In 2008, Cro Cop took a trip to Japan. While he was there he decided to participate in the Japanese promotion DREAM event. This brough about speculation that he was walking away from the UFC. He never gave a definite answer, only hinted at returning to the UFC in the future. He stated,
"Another thing is that I never liked fighting in the cage. I always liked to fight in the ring. The second thing is that I liked fighting in Japan. Japan is like my second home—I feel like I'm home in Japan. All those reasons [have brought me] here, and I'm very happy that I'm going to fight here in Japan. But of course, one day, I don't know when, but definitely I'll be back in the UFC to show that it was just a bad period for me. Now I'm fully recovered, physically and mentally, most important mentally."
He won his first bout in DREAM against Tatsuya Mizuno.
He was scheduled to fight Jerome Le Banner in his next fight, but had to pull out because he had to have surgery on his elbow.
His next DREAM fight was against Hollander Allistair Overeem. It was declared a no contest after Overeem kept landing unintential crotch shots on Cro Cop.
His final DREAM fight would be against a much larger man, Choi Hong-man. He won by TKO.
Shortly after this fight he had to have surgery on his knee.
Back To The UFC
The return of Cro Cop to UFC 99 was a controversial one. He was pitted against Mostapha Al-Turk and the fight ended shortly after Cro Cop caught Al Turk in the eyes with his fingers. The ref didn't see and the fight was called a TKO for Cro Cop.
At UFC 103 he was up against Junior Dos Santos. In round three, Cro Cop was clocked with a punch to the eye and waved his hand to the ref, telling him he couldn't see. The fight was declared a submission for Dos Santos.
It has been reported that Mirko has changed his training methods to better prepare for life in the octagon, and he's set to fight Big Ben Rothwell on February 21 of this year.