Gabriel Gonzaga gave “Cro Cop” a taste of his own medicine at UFC 70. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
UFC 70 “Nations Collide” -- April 21, 2007
Manchester Evening News Arena | Manchester, England
This matchup took place just two weeks after Matt Serra made jaws drop by knocking off reigning welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69, but that did not make the end result any less surprising. Filipovic arrived in the UFC with great acclaim, and plenty of fans and pundits already had him penciled in for an eventual dream showdown with then-heavyweight champion Randy Couture.
“Cro Cop” cruised past Eddie Sanchez in his Octagon debut at UFC 67, and Gonzaga was slated to be just another speed bump on the way to the top of the division. If you picked Gonzaga to win prior to UFC 70, as a few knowledgeable people did, it is still unlikely you selected head kick knockout as his means of victory. That method was, of course, reserved for Filipovic. The most likely path to a Gonzaga upset involved a heavy dose of top-control grappling.
Instead, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt made the celebrated striker buckle with a kick to the left side of his opponent’s head, and Filipovic crumpled awkwardly to the canvas, his right leg twisted at an uncomfortable angle -- an enduring portrait of a memorable knockout.
“The fight ran as I planned,” Gonzaga later told Sherdog.com. “I didn’t play Mirko’s game and I imposed my strategy all over the fight. This was the result of a lot of dedication.”
As a result, Gonzaga, not Filipovic, got the title shot against Couture, a bout he lost via third-round technical knockout. “Cro Cop,” meanwhile, never quite inspired the fear he once did, posting a 6-5 record with one no-contest in his next 12 outings.
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