Kevin Randleman rang Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s bell in 2004. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Pride FC Total Elimination 2004 -- April 25, 2004
Saitama Super Arena | Saitama, Japan
“Big Threes” are all the rage in the NBA these days, but the 2004 Pride Fighting Championships 16-man heavyweight tournament had a “Big Three” of its own, as Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic were the favorites in the bracket. While Emelianenko and Nogueira would eventually go on to meet in the final of the promotion’s grand prix, Filipovic met an unlikely -- and early -- demise.
Randleman, a decorated wrestler at Ohio State University and a former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder, had already endured some struggles in Pride, dropping his previous two bouts against Quinton Jackson and Kazushi Sakuraba. Randleman’s affinity for ground-and-pound was well known, but his tendency to suffer knockout losses while trying to impose his largely one-dimensional style was no secret, either. For that, many expected “Cro Cop” to dispose of “The Monster” within a round.
Randleman, of course, had other ideas. The Hammer House representative rushed Filipovic immediately after the opening bell sounded and forced his adversary into the corner. After a brief stalemate, a restart was ordered in the center of the ring.
With the fight apparently back in Filipovic’s comfort zone, Randleman warily circled his foe, shooting and failing on a takedown attempt. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a massive left hand from the UFC veteran sent “Cro Cop” tumbling to the floor, and a trademark ground-and-pound assault followed, bringing an end to contest 1:57 into the opening frame.
That the heavyweight bout concluded with a knockout was hardly unexpected. However, it was supposed to be Filipovic, not Randleman, who administered the decisive blows.
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