Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic evened his Glory record at 1-1. | Photo: TJ De Santis/Sherdog.com
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic does not see retirement in his immediate future.
The 2006 Pride Fighting Championships open weight grand prix winner returned to the win column at Glory 17 on Saturday, as he defeated Jarrell Miller by unanimous decision at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The 39-year-old already has an MMA bout lined up against Satoshi Ishii at an Inoki Genome Federation event on Aug. 23 in Japan. Following Glory 17, Filipovic shrugged at the idea that it might be time to hang up the gloves.
“I don’t know,” he told Sherdog.com. “I will do two fights in Japan for [Antonio] Inoki’s event, and after that, we will see what happens.”
Filipovic dominated Miller with a mixture of power shots, tactical expertise and ring generalship. A heavyweight boxing prospect, Miller was out-boxed by the Croatian -- surprising when one considers “Cro Cop” was suffering from a significant elbow infection. A large swelling on his right elbow was clearly visible during the fight. Filipovic reportedly had the joint drained repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the bout.
“I was lucky the doctor didn’t pick up on it in the medicals,” Filipovic said. “He was old and wasn’t paying attention, I think. Luckily for me, he missed it. If he saw it, maybe they would not have allowed me to fight; it might have been a problem. My doctors back home advised me not to go through with the fight having my elbow in this condition. It is a really serious infection, and it will have to be addressed when I am back in Croatia.”
Filipovic seemed content with his performance.
“I had a hard training camp, and apart from the elbow, I felt good,” he said. “Miller is not a kickboxer, but he is a big, natural heavyweight and a boxer, so I had to be careful.”
DASHED AMERICAN HOPES
American hopes of a lightweight title shot were dashed when Andy Ristie stopped San Francisco’s Ky Hollenbeck just 35 seconds into the first round.
Notoriously quick out of the gate, Ristie went straight after Hollenbeck, who was fighting a rearguard action as he tried to fend off his opponent and formulate responses. An overenthusiastic parry left his jaw unguarded, and Ristie crashed a fight-finishing left hook into it.
“I saw that he left a big gap when I made the jab, so I did it once more and then hit him with the left hook,” Ristie said. “It is a good punch. I think I can KO anyone in the division with it.”
In his previous fight, Ristie faced karate stylist Davit Kiria for the vacant lightweight title. The March clash saw Ristie terrorize Kiria for three rounds, only to gas in the fourth and get taken out in the fifth. Kiria owes his championship primarily to his own toughness and endurance but also to Ristie’s known tendency to fatigue in later rounds. Ristie admits fixing his gas tank has been a priority ever since.
“That won’t happen again. I won’t make that same mistake twice,” he said. “Next time I go for the belt, I will be fully prepared to go as long as I need to.”
Kiria will make his first defense of the belt when he meets Robin Van Roosmalen in August. Ristie knocked out Van Roosmalen in December and remains confident he can beat whoever wins the upcoming title fight.
“For sure I can beat Robin again, for sure,” he said. “I can beat Van Roosmalen and I can beat Kiria, so I am looking forward to seeing who is the winner, and then I will challenge them. The belt is for me this year.”
North America did have some success, as Canadian contender Joseph Valtellini took the world welterweight championship from Marc De Bonte in a close and thrilling fight. De Bonte was making his first defense and had no intention of giving the belt up easily. Valtellini came to take it by force, making for an explosive encounter. A head kick from Valtellini nearly knocked out De Bonte in the third round, but the champion came back strong in the fourth and nearly wiped out his challenger with a flying knee. The judges scored the fight for Valtellini, as all three gave him rounds one through three, with four and five going to De Bonte. He was furious, believing he took one, four and five.
Valtellini will defend the belt against Nieky Holzken later this year. They fought in the final of the world welterweight championship tournament at Glory 13 in December, combining for a “Fight of the Year” contender ... Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita had a much more strategic encounter in their rematch for the world heavyweight championship. With so much on the line, there was hesitation in the first two rounds, not to mention Ghita’s team employing the questionable tactic of conserving his gas tank by ordering him to do almost nothing. The final three rounds took off and were quite close. As in their Glory 11 meeting, Verhoeven got the nod from the judges and will return home to the Netherlands with the Glory world heavyweight championship.
Los Angeles-based Joe Schilling made it to the final of the eight-man middleweight championship tournament but could not replicate the success of 2013. The tournament final was a rematch with Artem Levin, and the Russian was in superbly tricky form as he gradually imposed his own plans on the fight and moved forward to a decision win. Schilling did exact revenge on two of his other rivals as the tournament played out. The decision win he scored over Wayne Barrett was satisfying, but the knockout victory over Simon Marcus in the quarterfinals is the fight about which everybody is talking. Glory matchmaker Cor Hemmers and majority owner Pierre Andurand declared it the frontrunner for “Fight of the Year.” Marcus went into the fight undefeated and had scored two victories over Schilling under muay Thai rules, though one was the result of a controversial technical knockout. They engaged in a memorable war for most of their three allotted rounds before Schilling’s right hook finished in at the end of the third frame.