Mirko Filipovic lived by the head kick and died by the head kick. | Photo: D. Herbertson/Sherdog.com
The hype surrounding Filipovic’s potential title candidacy in the UFC came crashing down courtesy of one brutal Gabriel Gonzaga head kick in 2007.
Prior to that, the Croatian established himself as one of the world’s best heavyweights during a successful stint with Pride Fighting Championships. “Cro Cop” compiled a 16-4-2 record with the Japanese promotion, including a victory in the 2006 open weight grand prix. A blend of high-level kickboxing and stout takedown defense helped Filipovic compile a resume that included wins over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Igor Vovchanchyn and Aleksander Emelianenko, as well as former UFC champions Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman.
When his UFC arrival became official, many anticipated an eventual dream showdown with then heavyweight ruler Randy Couture. Unfortunately, Gonzaga dashed those hopes by besting the K-1 standout with his own signature move.
Once perhaps the most feared heavyweight striker in the world, Filipovic never achieved the lofty heights he reached in Pride. Following the traumatic loss to Gonzaga, “Cro Cop” posted a 3-5 mark in the UFC, ending his Octagon tenure with consecutive knockout losses to Frank Mir, Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson.
Number 6 » Jake Shields