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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Mirko Filipovic Wins K-1 World Grand Prix Title In Zagreb

I just wrote yesterday how I was not going to post here frequently for some time because of the returning back to studies thing, but this is too cool (and remarkable would be a good description too) to pass up. There I briefly mentioned how Ivica Kostelic won his first race of the season after skiing injured all season, showing perseverance, never giving up etc. Now here we have the veteran and Legend Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic winning the K-1 World Grand Prix Final (and a nifty 1 million dollars too, not too shabby) in front of a 15,000 plus home crowd in Zagreb,...all at the age of 38, that's 14 years after coming in runner up in 1999.  

It was just last year when Mirko had his retirement last fight in Zagreb (which he won, see post here)  It was supposed to be the last that anyone would see or hear of "Cro Cop" ever again. ("He's a has-been, he's not young enough, too many injuries, out of shape, he's gone soft,  retire and go home, you don't belong here anymore, hang 'em up you're though" all that) But lo and behold!...since his retirement match victory he's gone on to win another 5 straight competitions, including last nights victory and is actually on a streak of 10 consecutive victories including from before his final  "retirement match".  "Has-been?"..."washed up?"..."he's a baldy-fatty?"..."he's finished and punches like a drunk granny?"...etc.

Maybe he should have retired 10-15 years ago? All in all, another great example about perseverance,  never giving up and doing things your way on your terms, and not listening to critics and naysayers. So much for the "has-been" moniker floating around about a year ago. He also changed up his intro music last night for the first match from his usual familiar  "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran to the famous "The Ecstasy of Gold" from the classic Sergio Leone film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." We'll have to wait and see how long this back from the ashes story unfolds. The video footage quality below and sound is not the best, more photo galleries at the links. Anyway.......

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Mirko Filipovic vs Ismael Londt: K-1 full fight video from World Grand Prix 2013 in Croatia


It was precipitated by a dubious decision in the opening bout, but Mirko Filipovic has finally achieved his dream, beating three quality opponents in succession earlier today (March 15, 2013) to win the K-1 2013 World Grand Prix tournament in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia.

However, it didn't come easy. The Croatian Sensation -- who was the runner-up in the prestigious tournament in 1999, losing to kickboxing legend Ernesto Hoost via stoppage -- struggled mightily in his opening bout, getting physically overpowered by unbeaten American Jarrell Miller and punished with knees to the body for much of their fight.

While I and many others saw the fight as a clear victory for Miller (check out the blow-by-blow coverage here), the judges disagreed, sending "Cro Cop" into the semifinals.

The Ukraine's Pavel Zhuravlev -- who upset one of Filipovic's countrymen in Catalin Morosanu -- was there to meet him. Being younger, bigger and faster, he was expected to avenge Miller in brutal fashion.

Didn't happen.

Cro Cop, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran and Pride FC Open Weight Grand Prix Winner in 2006, came out with significantly more aggression, hurting Zhuravlev repeatedly with his patented liver kick and -- in one memorable instance -- sending him stumbling across the ring with a vicious left straight. In short, he looked like the Cro Cop who mixed martial arts (MMA) fans thought had died back in 2007, winning a legitimate decision over a very difficult opponent.

The finals, at least on paper, looked like another story altogether.

Before this tournament, I stated that either Badr Hari or Hesdy Gerges would win the tournament (read the preview and predictions here) and that I expected it to be Gerges. However, his first opponent -- Suriname's Ismael Londt -- had other ideas, attacking with insane aggression reminiscent of training partner Melvin Manhoef before breaking Gerges' nose with a flying knee in the third round and advancing to the semifinals.

Londt was originally set to face Hari, who battered an undersized but insanely tough Zabit Samedov, but Hari was forced to pull out because of a broken foot, leaving Londt to pummel reserve fighter Dzevad Poturak into submission. Again a bigger, stronger man -- one who fought for far less time to get to the finals -- Cro Cop's incredible run was expected to come to an end.

Didn't happen, either.

Again, Cro Cop displayed an intensity that had seemed long-gone, attacking with long punching combinations and dirty boxing in the clinch. In the second round, he even landed his legendary left high kick in similar fashion to the blow that felled Mark Hunt back at the K-1 Grand Priz in 2002, faking a straight to force Londt's hands down.

While Londt managed to rise from the blow, Cro Cop poured on the punishment to the end of the round and survived a late body bruising by Londt to win a unanimous decision.

Not bad for an old man, not bad at all.

While the pay-per-view (PPV) production left much be desired with annoying hosts, poor sound on the ring, and a video stream that died for about an hour, it's hard not to crack a smile at Cro Cop, 38, finally winning a K-1 World Grand Prix title. It's been a long time coming and it could not have happened to a better, more deserving veteran of combat sports.

This better quality version is with Croatian commentary and the intros.

I thought I'd throw in this related piece on the topic of rings. The UFC has their ring girl personality Arianny Celeste, but it's little known that the Croatian MMA League has it's very own ring girl as well...Josipa Cvit.  More info at the links...

Story/Photo gallery:


Croatian MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) League moment.

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