Mirko Filipovic is a legend in MMA. His conquests in the world of kickboxing are well documented. What he accomplished in PRIDE is nothing short of amazing. He's one of the most popular fighters in the world. Hell, he's even got a catchphrase. "Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery." His arrival to the UFC was met with much anticipation and he was poised to reign over the Heavyweight division. It was not to be.
He came into the UFC with a ton of hype and anticipation. The UFC thought they could give him a feeder opponent in Eddie Sanchez that he could put away quickly and look great in the process to lead into a big main event number 1 contender fight that they would give away free on Spike. He would defeat Sanchez but looked anything but spectacular in doing so before going on to fight Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70. We all remember what happened there. In case you don't, here is a video document of the destruction.
Another loss in his next fight against Cheick Kongo sent him to Dream for a year. He's 3-1 since coming back but those three wins require a bit of explanation regarding context. Mostapha Al-turk had his eye poked which led to lack of vision and a quick TKO loss, Anthony Perosh took his fight with Mirko on just days notice and Pat Barry was dominating their fight in the first round before breaking both his hand and his foot. The one loss was to Junior Dos Santos in what was an embarrassment all around for the Croatian. Needless to say, his UFC run has been less than inspiring. But with one win over Frank Mir he can turn it all around.
The world of MMA is very much a "what have you done for me lately" kind of world. It's more important what you did in your last fight than what you did a year ago. In fact, beating a fighter the caliber of Frank Mir will lead many a fickle MMA fan to start to figure out ways to explain away the losses. The cracked rib and vicious low blows against Kongo. The disorientation against Gonzaga after the elbows on the ground. All of it will be fair game if he can beat Mir. That's the big question though. Can he beat Mir?
Mir has been quoted as saying that Cro Cop is the same fighter he's always been, just that fighters in the UFC now are more aggressive than fighters in PRIDE. That if you let him walk you down he will explode on you more than if you're aggressive the way JDS was. It's been easy to notice the same thing. His stand up defense leaves much to be desired. Mir wants to stand with him to open up the clinch game before taking him down. If Mirko can avoid going to the floor with Mir, where he is obviously badly out-matched, does he have a real chance at defeating Frank?
As I talked about before, Cro Cop is saying all the wrong things going into this fight.
"It is certain that I will not be able to go full force. I was left with only five weeks to prepare."
I mentioned in the article that it sounds like he is laying the groundwork for his loss before the fight even occurs. Or maybe he's just trying to protect his career. A loss might mean the end of it inside the Octagon. A win though would completely revive it. Imagine the kind of talk a knockout victory of Mir would induce. Dana would be quick to say that "he's in the mix" in the Heavyweight division and armchair quarterbacks everywhere would be dying to match him up with another top level opponent. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling. If he can win this fight he'll be right at the forefront of the "Pride never die" chants. That wouldn't be such a bad thing.