Nick Name: Cro Cop
Weight Class: Heavy Weight
Weight: 220 lbs
MMA Record: 22-6-2
- UFC 67: (2/3/07) Mirko defeated Eddie Sanchez by TKO at 4:33 in the First Round.
- UFC 70: (4/21/07) Mirko lost to Gabriel Gonzaga by KO in the First Round.
- UFC 75: (9/8/07) Mirko lost to Cheick Kongo by unanimous decision at the end of the Third Round.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović (born on September 10, 1974) is a Croatian kickboxer turned mixed martial artist . Filipović is among the few martial artists who have been highly successful in fighting in both K-1 and PRIDE Fighting Championships. On September 10, 2006, he won the PRIDE 2006 Open-weight Grand Prix. Filipović is perhaps best-known for his left high-kicks, the most dangerous weapon in his arsenal; upon impact with the head, numerous opponents have been knocked out instantly. He currently lives in Zagreb with his wife Klaudija and son Ivan. In December 2006, it was announced that he had signed a six-fight contract with the U.S.-based Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts organization, and would make his U.S. debut in February 2007.
Trademark fighting style
Filipović is renowned for his devastating left high kick which he has used to knock out many of his opponents. Filipović also employs ferocious low leg kicks, body kicks, and punches to the body and head. His legs are arguably the most dangerous in MMA today. His kicks have become ever stronger over the years, due to working on his thigh muscles with weights and body weight exercises. His thighs have gotten so impressive that he is known in Japan as “Meaty Thighs.” He often spurns longer combinations for solitary strikes intended to finish an opponent instantly. Filipović is also a very keen strategist. He often counterstrikes against larger opponents and attacks aggressively against similarly sized or smaller opponents. Submission specialists and wrestlers are considered to pose the greatest threat to Filipović. In defending against those fighting styles, Filipović possesses arguably the best takedown defense in MMA also making use of the body scissors while down. Furthermore, as time has gone on, he has also improved his ground fighting as well as his submission fighting, training with the likes of Fabricio Werdum and members of his Cro Cop Squad Gym.
Martial arts career
Filipović started his professional career in 1996 as a kickboxer, following the footsteps of his compatriot Branko Cikatić. At the time, Filipović was working as a commando in the Croatian police anti-terrorist unit Alpha (stationed in Lučko near Zagreb), which earned him his nickname Cro Cop. He also fought several times early in his career under the nickname Tigar (Croatian for “tiger”).
In 1996, at the age of 21, Filipović entered the K-1 Grand Prix elimination tournament. After defeating the previous year’s finalist, Jérôme Le Banner, Filipović was stopped in the next round by Ernesto Hoost. He returned to K-1 three years later in 1999, knocking out British fighter, Ricky “Tank” Nicholson, but subsequently dropping a decision against Swiss fighter, Xhavit Bajrami. Despite this, Filipović was given a wildcard into the world tournament where he shocked the kickboxing world by destroying highly regarded K-1 fighter Mike Bernardo in what many K-1 fans regard as one of the biggest upset victories in K-1 history. Filipović then went on to knock out Japanese star Musashi and Australian karate fighter Sam Greco on the same night before being stopped again by Hoost.
Filipović continued to have successes in K-1, winning a number of matches against such top ranked opponents as Peter Aerts, Mark Hunt, and Remy Bonjasky. He was the first fighter to KO then-undefeated giant, “The Beast” Bob Sapp in 86 seconds. In 2000 he beat karate fighter Glaube Feitosa and boxer Hiromi Amada to reach the finals of the Nagoya Grand Prix, losing by first-round TKO to Mike Bernardo in a rematch. Once again, previously acquired injuries was the major factor in this loss. Mirko actually entered the ring limping on one leg due to injuries sustained in previous bouts. Bernardo repeatedly attacked Mirko’s damaged leg and rendered the Croatian unable to continue due to injuries. Mirko however gained tremendous respect among Japanese fight enthusiasts for his courage and heart. As a finalist he progressed to the final eight for the 2000 Grand Prix, but once again dropped a decision to his nemesis Hoost. In 2001 he was unexpectedly knocked out by Canadian fighter Michael McDonald in the first round. Shortly thereafter, he switched to Pride FC.
In 2001, Filipović began his switch to fighting in PRIDE, citing personal challenge, as well as dissatisfaction with K-1 salaries. A year later, he also left his job at the anti-terrorist unit in order to focus fully on his martial arts career. Since then, Filipović maintained a comparably low kickboxing profile, but nevertheless scored some impressive K-1 victories, most notably against Mark Hunt in March 2002 (unanimous decision), Remy Bonjasky in July 2002 (2nd round TKO), and Bob Sapp in April 2003 (1st round KO).
CroCop’s string of PRIDE wins secured him a chance to fight for the interim heavyweight champion title against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in November 2003. Filipović’s stand-up fighting proved effective in the first round, controlling the fight from his feet. However, Nogueira prevailed in the second round after a successful takedown, forcing Filipović to submit to an armbar after being mounted. Filipović admitted to Bas Rutten in a later interview that he was overconfident against Nogueira.
In 2004, Filipović put his K-1 career on hold, and recruited Fabricio Werdum (a former world champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) as his coach, working on improving his ground fighting skills. At the PRIDE GP heavyweight tournament in 2004, he was knocked out in a shocking upset defeat by Kevin Randleman. Filipović later made up for this loss by submitting Randleman in a rematch at the end of 2004.
Filipović repeatedly requested PRIDE to let him challenge the heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. After winning seven straight matches since his defeat by Randleman, including a knock-out victory against Aleksander Emelianenko (the 6’6″, 255 lb brother of the champion), Filipović received a chance to fight Emelianenko for the title on August 28, 2005 at Pride’s Final Conflict 2005 event. After three rounds, Emelianenko won by unanimous decision and retained his title. Emelianenko, considered by many to be the best MMA fighter the world has ever seen, admitted Filipović to be his toughest opponent to date. Filipović later said on Croatian national television that he came exhausted to the match, mostly because he couldn’t get used to the time difference in Japan and sleeping problems he had. The champion, likewise, was not in his top form. According to Fedor’s official website he was to begin preparations for surgery to reset bones in his previously hurt right hand the morning after the title fight with Mirko. According to Fedor he “could not take full advantage of right hand during the striking exchanges and had to try to close the distance”.
On October 23, 2005, less than two months after the loss to Emelianenko, Mirko stepped back into the ring to rematch open weight King of Pancrase Josh Barnett (at an event fittingly named ‘Starting Over’). After three rounds, Filipović received a unanimous judges’ decision victory.
On December 31, 2005, Filipović lost his match against Mark Hunt via split decision. Hunt was the more aggressive fighter, an important criterion in Pride judging. Quite unusually Mirko was wearing shoes for this fight, something that had no precedent. This had led to speculation and statements from his camp about Mirko having sustained injuries to his feet before the fight. Filipović himself has never confirmed these speculations. Also, Mirko had displayed considerable problems with his cardio during his fights with Emelianenko, Barnett and Hunt leading to the speculation that he was much too active and a resting period from the ring would work to his advantage.
Filipović re-entered the PRIDE FC ring competing in PRIDE’s 2006 Open Weight tournament on May 5, 2006. His first match at the Total Elimination Absolute event was against Ikuhisa Minowa, the lighter but highly acclaimed pro-wrestler and Mixed Martial Artist. Mirko won the fight with devastating punches and ground and pound resulting in a TKO victory in 1 minute 10 seconds of the 1st round. On July 1, 2006 at the Critical Countdown Absolute event Mirko defeated 1992 Olympic judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida when the judoka submitted after a series of brutal leg kicks left him unable to stand.
On September 10, 2006, Filipović won the Open Weight Grand Prix at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute. In the semi-finals, Filipović knocked out the PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva with his trademark left high kick.In the final match, Cro Cop won a third victory over Josh Barnett, who submitted after sustaining an eye injury. With these two overwhelming victories, Filipović became PRIDE’s Open-Weight Grand Prix champion, the first widely recognized championship belt he has ever won. In a post-fight interview Mirko stated if he had not won the tournament, it would have been his last night fighting. It was also his birthday.
Move to UFC
After his victory at the OWGP, a rematch between Filipović and Fedor Emelianenko failed to materialise and on December 12, 2006 Filipović pulled out of the New Year’s Eve event, citing both a foot injury and Emelianenko’s commitment to meet Mark Hunt at the card in question. Through his official website, Mirko revealed, “I still can’t kick like I want to. It’s the best that we give more time to this injury to heal. I want to be in perfect shape for my next fights.”
Also in December 2006, rumors began surface about Filipović entertaining offers from other mixed martial arts organizations; the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was one of the promotions that Filipović confirmed came forward with an offer. Rumors continued to circulate about Filipović’s future with the PRIDE FC organization, and soon, media websites were reporting that Filipović had chosen the UFC for his future.
UFC president Dana White and the UFC officially announced on December 30, during the post-UFC 66 press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, that Filipović had signed a two-year, six-fight deal with the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts promoter. It was also announced that Filipović will make his U.S. debut on February 3 at UFC 67 in Las Vegas against Eddie Sanchez.
Date Result Opponent Event Method Round Time
|4/21/07||Gabriel Gonzaga||UFC 70|
|2/3/2007||Win||Eddie Sanchez||UFC 67||TKO||1||4:33|
|9/10/2006||Win||Josh Barnett||PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute||Submission (Injury)||1||7:32|
|9/10/2006||Win||Wanderlei Silva||PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute||KO (Head Kick)||1||5:26|
|7/1/2006||Win||Hidehiko Yoshida||PRIDE Critical Countdown Absolute||Verbal submission (Leg Kicks)||1||7:38|
|5/5/2006||Win||Ikuhisa Minowa||PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute||TKO (Strikes)||1||1:10|
|12/31/2005||Loss||Mark Hunt||PRIDE Shockwave 2005||Decision (Split)||3||5:00|
|10/23/2005||Win||Josh Barnett||PRIDE 30||Decision (Unanimous)||3||5:00|
|8/28/2005||Loss||Fedor Emelianenko||PRIDE Final Conflict 2005||Decision (Unanimous)||3||5:00|
|6/26/2005||Win||Ibragim Magomedov||PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005||KO (Body Kick)||1||3:53|
|2/20/2005||Win||Mark Coleman||PRIDE 29||KO (Punches)||1||3:40|
|12/31/2004||Win||Kevin Randleman||PRIDE Shockwave 2004||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||1||0:41|
|10/31/2004||Win||Josh Barnett||PRIDE 28||Submission (Injured Shoulder)||1||0:46|
|8/15/2004||Win||Aleksander Emelianenko||PRIDE Final Conflict 2004||KO (Head Kick & Punches)||1||2:09|
|7/19/2004||Win||Shungo Oyama||PRIDE Bushido 4||TKO (Strikes)||1||1:00|
|7/19/2004||Win||Hiromitsu Kanehara||PRIDE Bushido 3||Decision (Unanimous)||2||5:00|
|4/25/2004||Loss||Kevin Randleman||PRIDE Total Elimination 2004||KO (Punches)||1||1:57|
|2/15/2004||Win||Yoshihisa Yamamoto||PRIDE Bushido 2||TKO (Strikes)||1||2:12|
|2/1/2004||Win||Ron Waterman||PRIDE 27||TKO (Strikes)||1||1:37|
|11/9/2003||Loss||Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira||PRIDE Final Conflict 2003||Submission (Armbar)||2||1:45|
|10/5/2003||Win||Dos Caras Jr.||PRIDE Bushido 1||KO (Head Kick)||1||0:46|
|8/10/2003||Win||Igor Vovchanchyn||PRIDE Total Elimination 2003||KO (Head Kick)||1||1:29|
|6/8/2003||Win||Heath Herring||PRIDE 26||TKO (Strikes)||1||3:17|
|12/31/2002||Win||Kazuyuki Fujita||Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2002-K-1 vs. Inoki||Decision (Unanimous)||3||5:00|
|8/28/2002||Win||Kazushi Sakuraba||PRIDE Shockwave 2002||TKO (Broken Orbital Bone)||1||3:17|
|4/28/2002||Draw||Wanderlei Silva||PRIDE 20||Draw||5||3:00|
|12/31/2001||Win||Yuji Nagata||Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2001-K-1 vs. Inoki||TKO (Punches)||1||0:21|
|11/3/2001||Draw||Nobuhiko Takada||PRIDE 17||Draw||5||3:00|
|8/19/2001||Win||Kazuyuki Fujita||K-1-Andy Hug Memorial||TKO (Cut)||1||0:39|
– From wikipedia.org