Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was a ferocious striker in his prime. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
“Right kick hospital, left kick cemetery” did not seem like such a stretch when “Cro Cop” was at his fearsome best. When Filipovic debuted in 2001, the history of strikers transitioning to MMA was not an illustrious one, as wrestlers and jiu-jitsu artists had exploited their deficiencies for years. However, “Cro Cop” was different; he picked up takedown defense in a hurry and took to demolishing Pride Fighting Championships’ top fighters in front of sold-out stadium shows. He stopped Kazushi Sakuraba in the main event of a Pride event that drew more than 90,000 fans and later put away the man who had been Pride’s most feared striker, Igor Vovchanchyn, with a brutal knockout. Filipovic topped it all off by winning the 2006 Pride open weight grand prix with four first-round knockouts, including a massacre of Wanderlei Silva. His Pride run was the stuff of MMA legend.
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