Pride GP Total Elimination 2004 Preview

Mirco Filipovic vs Kevin Randleman

Apr 21, 2004
Mirco “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Kevin “The Monster” Randleman

MIRCO FILIPOVIC: Croatian Kickboxer, known as “Cro Cop”, I.K.B.F. World Heavyweight Full Contact Champion, K-1Grand Prix ’99 finalist, K-1 World Grand Prix 2000 in Fukuoka finalist, has a 40-5 amateur and 12-5 professional boxing record, trains with Igor Kolakusic, Igor Pokrajac, Mike Bencic and the rest of the Cro Cop Squad Gym, with a 8-1-2 record in MMA, making his 9th appearance (5-1-2) in the ring of the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is actually a Croatian Special Forces officer as well as an accomplished athlete. He has made it to the final round of two K-1 tournaments and fought for a number of years as a boxer. Filipovic didn’t make the transition to MMA until 2001 and has been fighting 3 bouts a year under these rules as well as continuing to compete in kickboxing. The “Cro Cop” has set his sights on winning both the Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight title and winning a K-1 tournament to be at the very top of both sports. Below are some of Filipovic’s more significant contests.

Filipovic/Kazuyuki Fujita: His first MMA bout was at the K-1 Andy Hug Memorial in Japan where he faced Antonio Inoki disciple Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita’s big head cut easily from a kick and the match was over quickly.

Filipovic/Wanderlei Silva: Some felt it was Silva who would be in trouble but Wanderlei was happy to stand and strike with Filipovic. Silva was respectful of his power (and felt it on a few occasions) but it was apparent he was always in control. “Cro Cop” looked tentative at times and fearful of the ground. It was ruled a draw but had Wanderlei been given the opportunity under full PFC rules, he would’ve likely finished Mirko on the ground.

Filipovic/Kazushi Sakuraba: Filpovic battled the significantly smaller Japanese grappler Kazushi Sakuraba under the full PFC rules. Kazushi grappled well with Mirko but the larger “Cro Cop” showed good takedown defense and made Sak pay on a number of occasions with punishing kicks to the face. The doctor’s determined Kazushi had a broken orbital bone under his eye and called a halt to the match in the second round.

Filipovic/Heath Herring: Herring looked flustered and unfocussed from the opening bell and paid for it. He kept shooting in for the takedown without relaxing. Granted Mirko is a devastating striker and worthy of concern, but the mindset of bringing “Cro Cop” to the ground seemed to overwhelm him and led to his demise. Filipovic looked good, avoiding takedowns and seizing the opportunities Heath provided en route to victory.

Filipovic/Igor Vovchanchyn: Igor begins by testing his range as he always does and Mirko misses with a high left roundhouse kick to the head. Vovchanchyn misses with a few hard rights but lands a partially blocked right roundhouse of his own. They would engage instrikes two more times with no real damage and then Filipovic lands a devastating left roundhouse kick to the head KOing Vovchanchyn early in the first round.

Filipovic/Rodrigo Nogueira: Nogueira scored a takedown early and fought Mirko from guard. Filipovic did a good job of keeping his arms in tight and controlling Nogueira’s midsection until the opportunity to stand up presented itself. Nogueira waited for Mirko to regain his composure on the feet and paid for it. Filipovic tested Nogueira’s defense with a series of left roundhouses to the head and to the body. He followed with combinations that set up left hands to the head. Rodrigo defended well but could not bring “Cro Cop” down and he was showing the signs of being hounded by a world class kickboxer. They would circle but it was all Filipovic as Nogueira’s only offense was to drop to the mat to avoid being kicked. Rodrigo got kicked in the head once on the mat and later was tagged solid in the face with a left roundhouse as he reached for a leg. Filipovic lands his best kick of the period with a roundhouse to the face followed by a short left punch that stuns Nogueira and drops him to the mat. As the bell sounds, Filipovic hits him once in the face. In round two Nogueira committed to the takedown and dropped him to the mat. He quickly moved from sidemount to mount and “Cro Cop” glanced up at the ref with a priceless look on his face like “Minotauro” had done something illegal. Rodrigo locked his legs underneath Mirko and pounded his face. Filipovic bucked his hips to roll Nogueira off but Rodrigo had the armbar sunk in before Mirko could even get to his feet. Nogueira wins the PFC Interim Heavyweight Championship Title.

Filipovic/Ron Waterman: Waterman brought Filipovic down and looked to be playing his game on the mat. He worked desperately to try and keep the kickboxer grounded. Ron and applied a neck crank but Mirko had improved his ground skills since we last saw him and was able to strike effectively from the mat. Filipovic tagged Waterman and escaped the mat to stand and deliver a hick kick and subsequent strikes. Ron tried to get it back down on the ground but Mirko’s trademark soccer kick ended Waterman’s night midway through the first round.

Filipovic/Yoshihisa Yamamoto: “Cro Cop” opened up with a succession of leg kicks to which Yamamoto simply smirked and punched his own leg. Yoshihisa answered back with a jabbing front kick. He was accidentally poked in the eye and before Filipovic could finish him, the action was halted. After a restart, Mirko goes to work, kicking Yoshihisa’s legs and sprawling away from takedowns. The Japanese fighter continues to smile and it appears to be getting to Filipovic. A second eye poke is committed but there is no stoppage and Filipovic goes in for the kill. Yamamoto catches a kick and the pair go to the canvas with Filipovic on top. From Yamamoto’s guard Mirco lands a pair of solid rights to the face and stands to soccer kick his head. The beating continues on the feet as “Cro Cop” picks his shots on a bloody Yamamoto and finishes him with a pair of left hooks.

Also worthy of note: Filipovic battled Nobuhiko Takada (draw) and Yuji Nagata (win/TKO)

Strengths And Weaknesses:
Filpovic’s strength lies in his kickboxing. The strike of his kicks literally sound like swings of a baseball bat. He is also very agile. He has a dangerous ring presence as well, something you can’t pin down but you observe. With all of the years of kickboxing behind him, the transition to MMA has been a fairly successful one. His weakness would be the ground, specifically submissions. However he is now training with Sakuraba and that is diminishing with each battle. Mirko showed serious takedown defense skills and improved punching from the mat in recent action. Right now he understands ground defense better than he understands the actual application of submission techniques. And when he provides a complete, balanced attack standing and on the mat, he’ll likely have a belt around his waist.

How He Can Beat Randleman :
Keep it standing. If he avoids the takedown as well as he has been doing, Randleman is likely to run into a left roundhouse kick in the head and it may never even go to the ground.

KEVIN RANDLEMAN: American Ohio State wrestler, 2-time NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion, 3-time NCAA Division 1 Wrestling All-American, Brazil Open veteran, UVF 4 Iron Fighter Tournament Champion, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, trains with Wes Sims, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman and members of Team Hammer House, with a record of 14-7 in MMA, making his 6th appearance (3-2) in the ring of the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Kevin “The Monster” Randleman began wrestling when he was 10 years old. While in high school, he won the state wrestling championship and moved on to Ohio State University. There he became a 3-time NCAA Division 1 Wrestling All-American and a 2-time NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion. During college Mark Coleman was Randleman’s roommate and Kevin was just about raised by Mark. For more than a decade, Coleman has been coaching him in one capacity or another. While Randleman was still in school, Coleman entered the UFC and was highly successful (won 2 eight-man tournaments and the unified heavyweight title). Mark told Kevin of the opportunities the sport offered and convinced him to take a short-notice fight in Brazil. Kevin excelled in the sport, competing in two 8-man tournaments (winning one and earning the UVF 4 Iron Fighter title) and a 4-man tournament before ever fighting in the U.S. He debuted in UFC 19 and fought for the heavyweight championship at UFC 20, losing a controversial decision to Bas Rutten. He captured the title at UFC 25 against Pete Williams in Japan and then lost the title to Randy Couture in UFC 28. Kevin moved down to the light heavyweight division and has been competing exclusively in the PFC since late 2002. Below are some of Randleman’s more significant contests.

Randleman/Ebenezer Braga: Prior to the bell, Randleman is slapped repeatedly in the face by Coleman and then sits in the corner on his knees, ready to pounce. The Luta Livre fighter lands a short left hand to the back of Kevin’s head but is immediately clinched, whirled around and dropped to the mat causing him to slide outside the ring beneath the ropes. This was shades of things to come as Braga would fall out of the ring numerous times (I think I counted 7). The same scenario played out many times; Randleman would get his takedowns but Braga immediately gets guard and lands elbows and palm strikes to the back of Kevin’s bald head. Randleman would land some strikes but as they skirt across the mat, Braga would fall out of the ring again. A number of times his corner actually pulled him out to stand him up and let him get a breather. Both fighters were landing but the ref could not seem to keep them from sliding out of in the ring. Randleman landed some hard shots but Braga landed knees to the body standing and elbows to the head on the mat. Late in the bout Randleman seemed to be gassing as he took a lot of damage to the body but he was able to unload a big left-right-left palm strike combo that sent Braga to the mat and out of the ring. In the end, Kevin won a decision after 20 minutes but raised Braga’s hand as well acknowledging his effort.

Randleman/Carlos Barreto: This was a relatively boring bout between two fairly big name competitors. However, this bout is worthy of mention because it an early bout in Randleman’s career where he faced a submission fighter and was eventually submitted. Like with the Braga bout (on the same night), Randleman had a few bursts of effective striking but Barreto controlled the bout on the ground. It was mainly Greco-Roman wrestling for the first 18 minutes as they never went to the ground prior to that point. Barreto jumped to guard and struck Kevin in the back of his head, then kicking him in the face as Randleman got back to his feet. Carlos stayed grounded and kicked at his legs from his back until Kevin jumped back into his guard. Although appearing exhausted, Kevin continued to strike in Carlos’ guard. Randleman was pounded in the face by Barreto’s heels and subsequently fell into a triangle choke. You could see Kevin’s arm go limp and the referee breaks them up. Mark Coleman went berserk at the stoppage and wound up fighting with Carlson Gracie Sr., Wallid Ismail and members of the Brazilian crowd.

Randleman/Bas Rutten: This was the most controversial battle in the UFC’s history and was the motivating factor for the UFC to adopt the “round format it currently uses. Randleman gets the takedown and begins to swing wildly on Bas but Rutten is able to control Kevin’s arms. Kevin cuts the bridge of Bas’ nose with the side of his glove. In sidemount, Randleman begins to elbow Bas in the face and ribs but Rutten eventually gets full guard produces some offense in the form of palm strikes to the head. Randleman fights back with punches and knees and regains the sidemount. BJM stands the fighters up to check Bas’ cuts and it is revealed that Bas’ nose is broken but he is allowed to continue. Rutten seems to have found his game and is striking effectively from the ground. As the fight went on, Bas would turn on his side and knee Kevin in the chest and even attempt an armbar. The pace slows and Bas takes a page from Kevin’s book and tries to open a cut on Kevin’s face using his glove. Bas is in guard and is keeping Kevin under control and blood begins to appear through Randleman’s blonde hair. The first overtime begins with two flashy kicks by Rutten, one low and one high, both missing Randleman. As usual Kevin gets the takedown and puts Bas in guard. Rutten returns to elbowing Randleman and even slaps on an armbar but Kevin is able to power out of it and shake him off. The period ends with Bas employing a double-handed palm strike to the top of Randleman’s head. The second OT period begins with a strike to the ribs by Rutten and another leg kick. The takedown doesn’t come as easy for Kevin now but he gets one anyway. Bas, again in guard where he’s been all fight, continues to strike and elbow as the buzzer sounds. Although it was a split decision, Bas Rutten is named UFC Heavyweight Champion. Coleman was devastated by the loss and says ‘look at his face and then look at Kevin’s face and tell me who won”. Commentator and UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick echoes Coleman’s sentiment and says “Randleman controlled the pace of the fight. He may have a case”.

Randleman/Pete Williams: This one could’ve been over early but it went the 25-minute distance. Randleman got his usual takedowns and began to ground and pound. Late in the first round Williams got back to his feet and unloaded some strikes sending Kevin to the canvas. Pete went in for the kill but Kevin squirmed into and unusual position that made it difficult to attack Randleman’s head. With just seconds left in the opening round, Williams obtained the mount but the buzzer sounded before Pete could finish him. Kevin stayed on the canvas for about a minute before getting to his feet. However, that pause for reflection changed the tempo of the bout and Randleman controlled the next 4 rounds with his superior wrestling to take the heavyweight title via decision.

Randleman/Quinton Jackson: Jackson fought Kevin Randleman at Pride 25: Body Blow. Jackson got early takedown and Kevin had a hard time bringing Quinton down for the entire bout. “Rampage” was the busier fighter in the clinch, repeatedly throwing knees to the body. Randleman kept working for takedowns and eating knees to the midsection. They were broken up a number of times for inactivity in the clinch and after yellow cards were distributed, they were all business. Randleman landed a few shots in the exchange but Jackson cupped his head to deliver the knee flush in the face and pounded out the win when he dropped to the mat.

Randleman/Kazushi Sakuraba: This was Randleman’s first bout back since his major car accident. He looked pumped and got some takedowns on Sakuraba but in the first round his ground game was nonexistent. At the same time, Sakuraba could not finish the hulking Randleman with a submission. The second round was light on action as well. Randleman hooked a kick and brought Sakuraba to the mat but it got stale from there. In the final round Randleman was busier with takedowns but once they were there, Sakuraba did what came naturally and eventually sunk in an armbar.

Also worthy of note: Randleman battled Dan Bobish (win/strikes), Tom Erikson (loss/KO), Maurice Smith (win/decision), Pedro Rizzo (win/decision), Chuck Liddell (loss/KO), Murilo Rua and Renato Sobral (win/decision)

Strengths And Weaknesses: Kevin “The Monster” Randleman survives on his solid wrestling ability. His compact size and immense strength have always benefited him on the mat where his game is Ground’n’Pound. Many of his wins have been via strikes and unfortunately so have his losses. Kevin sometimes takes unnecessary chances and winds up paying for it on the canvas. He’s been KO’d by some of the best including Tom Erikson, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Quinton Jackson. His weakness, at this point in his career still seems to be his stand-up game. He was working with boxing trainer Emmanuel Stewart but with limited success. However he has developed a solid knee attack on the mat and can certainly do enough damage to finish people. Also, Randleman exhibits no arsenal or at least no desire to attempt submissions. He has his game and knows it well, he could simply benefit from having submission knowledge as an additional threat.

How He Can Beat Filipovic: Pound him. Kevin needs to bring the submission master the ground and nullify his game with heavy strikes. The longer it goes, the better Saks chances are. Randleman is a stamina machine so endurance isn’t a factor. However, if the bout goes for a prolonged period of time, Sakuraba will recognize weaknesses in Kevin’s defense, assess them, and determine how he can submit him. It’s the nature of the sport. If Kevin drops him, pounds him and calls it a night, he can stay out of trouble and keep his place in line to fight for the middleweight title.

MY PICK: Filipovic. Kevin has a nasty habit of getting KO’d because he charges in to meet force with force. Filipovic’s takedown defense is solid and he showed some improvement on the ground with Waterman so he should be able to do it. It is best to keep the bout where he is comfortable and avoid Randleman’s knees to the head on the mat. Mirco was able to avoid what could’ve been real trouble with Waterman on the mat. I feel it will be Filipovic by KO in the 1st Rd.
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>