Sorry “Iceman” fans, but when it comes to striking, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic makes Chuck Liddell look like a ten year old boy picking up gloves for the first time. This might be a bold statement, but come February 3rd, hordes of UFC fans will flood the streets proclaiming that Croatia has produced the ultimate Universal Soldier in Mirko Cro Cop. OK, that maybe a little over the top, but if you watch Mirko Cro Cop fight, it would be hard to distinguish whether Mirko is a family man from Zagreb or a super fighter. I’m going overboard on my analogies, but it is true that Mirko Filipovic was a former commando for the Croatian anti-terrorist unit based in Lučko. All-in-all, Ultimate Fighting Championship fans and especially UFC fighters should prepare for the coming of a fighter that will turn the entire Heavyweight division on its head.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic Fighting Style Analysis – Strengths
Being a natural southpaw, Mirko is able to dismantle his opponents by taking advantage of their inability to cope with unorthodox angles in conjunction with his laser-like precision in his shots. This is fortified by the devastating knockout power in his strikes that make any opponent gearing up to fight Cro Cop focus on their takedown and stand-up defense as if their life depended on it. Yet, nobody can talk about Filipovic without talking about his deadliest weapon. Cro Cop possesses the most feared shot in the entire MMA world and that is all packed into his left leg.

Mirko Cro Cop’s left leg kick is so devastating that regardless of where it lands, it has created highlight reels after highlight reels. Mirko is one of the few MMA strikers that can change the level of his kicks in a split second to confuse and knockout his opponents. Many strikers with such a powerful weapon become reckless and tire themselves by performing the strike and allowing their opponents to familiarize themselves to the move. However, Cro Cop is extremely strategic in setting up his opponents during the course of a match until he finds right opportunity to throw his knockout kick for the win.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic Fighting Style Analysis – Weaknesses
Cro Cop’s weakness lies in his ground game. He doesn’t have one. He is susceptible to submissions, but over the years has been working to a point where he can escape and get back up. His Brazilian Jiu-jitsu coach, Fabricio Werdum, has hinted that Mirko’s Brazilian Jiu-jitsu lies somewhere at the level of a blue belt. For the most part, if Cro Cop has mastered the main concepts of the ground game then his weakness is much more difficult to exploit. It will be interesting to see if he Filipovic will continue to add to and bolster his ground and pound game.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic Fight History
Mirko Cro Cop started his professional fighting career in 1996, at the age of 21, when he entered the K-1 Grand Prix elimination tournament. K-1 kickboxing is considered the highest level of professional kickboxing in the world, and at such a young age, he defeated the previous year’s finalist- making him an instant sensation in the fighting community. Cro Cop managed to pull a number of upsets in K-1, but he never managed to win any Grand Prix tournaments in three separate attempts by losing to K-1 legend Ernesto Hoost. However, despite an above average run in the K-1 circuit, Mirko signed with parent company, Dream Stage Entertainment, which is the parent company of Pride Fighting Championships, the biggest mixed martial arts organization in Japan.

Cro Cop’s striking prowess proved to be too much for many of the top MMA contenders despite Mirko being quite “green” when it came to the ground game. Yet, Mirko seems to have a natural talent for sprawling out of the hardest of takedown shots and possessing some of the best takedown defense. He has racked up a 21 win and 4 loss record in the Pride organization. His record is highlighted by his victories in 2006 over Pride Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva (Chuck Liddell’s overseas nemesis), and over Top 5 World Heavyweight and Open Weight King of Pancrase Champion, Josh Barnett- both in the same night to win the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Championship Belt.

UFC Heavyweight Impact

In the past few years, the UFC Heavyweight division has seen a dwindling of world-class fighters to compete and indulge audiences with intriguing matches and fights. From fighters leaving the UFC for other organizations and others dropping weight to Light Heavyweight, the UFC has become desperate in recruiting fighters that can back up the hype the UFC builds around its new talent. Unfortunately, with the exception of Brandon Vera (who’s UFC future is in limbo), the past few years have yielded no world class fighters to rival the likes of Andrei Arlovski and current Heavyweight Champion, Tim Sylvia. However, with the acquisition of Cro Cop, the UFC has struck gold, and by the end of 2007, Sylvia will be shining Mirko’s gold when challenged for the belt.

In the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Mirko will be one of the few elite heavyweights. New acquisition Heath “The Texas Crazy Horse” Herring, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andrei Arlovski, rising star Brandon Vera (although, as mentioned before, future with UFC is to be determined on whether Vera will resign), and current Heavyweight Champion, Tim “The Mainiac” Sylvia are the handful that can be considered in the top heavyweight tier. Herring and Mirko have faced off before in the Pride organization and anybody who has seen that fight knows Herring underwent an absolute beating. I do not believe much has changed in their skills since then, therefore the result will most likely be the same. Brandon Vera is still considered too green for Arlovski, Sylvia, and Mirko. So, Arlovski and Sylvia represent the only two real challenges in Cro Cops qwest for UFC gold.

Potential UFC Clash with Andrei Arlovski Analysis
Andrei Arlovski is a devastating striker and is quite good in his sambo ability. He beat Sylvia once for the belt and defended it twice before losing it back to Sylvia. Yet, after his destruction of Marcio Cruz at UFC 65, there is little doubt that Andrei Arlovski is still considered by most, as the number two Heavyweight in the UFC. However, despite possessing such an impressive resume, Arlovski would not pose a significant challenge to Cro Cop. Arlovski loves staying on his feet, although he is also quite savvy on the ground, Arlovski chooses to bang it out with other fighters despite the increasing questioning of his chin. If this stubborn trend continues for Arlovski, Cro Cop’s superior striking skills will fully exploit this – winner, Cro Cop.

Potential UFC Clash with Tim Sylvia Analysis
Tim Sylvia has endured quite a reign as Heavyweight champion despite losing once to Arlovski. However, Sylvia’s loss and comeback to reclaim gold has only shown the vast improvement in his game. He has the heart and hunger to fight any opponent and is improving his game. Now with a fighter coming up with Cro Cop’s enormous aura and reputation, Sylvia’s hunger and drive will peak. Many in the UFC community have come to accept that this match will be featured relatively soon. Yet despite all the hunger, the time between Sylvia nodding to “Big” Jon McCarthy to begin a fight with Cro Cop and then staring at the lights on his back will be short. Tim Sylvia also loves to bang with fighters, but Mirko is not someone you want to do that with. Regardless of your skill level, the chance of standing against Mirko is just too risky, and due to Sylvia’s weakness in ground technique, it will be difficult for Sylvia to exploit any weakness Cro Cop possesses.

By the end of 2007, the UFC will see a new Heavyweight champion. His name will be Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.

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