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 »  Home  »  Sports  »  Mirko Cro Cop knocks out Amir Aliakbari to win grand prix Rizin 2016 in Tokyo
Mirko Cro Cop knocks out Amir Aliakbari to win grand prix Rizin 2016 in Tokyo
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  01/3/2017 | Sports | Unrated
Crocop winning in the finals agains Iranian fighter Amir Aliakbari

Mirko Filipović Cro Cop.

It’s 2016 and Mirko Cro Cop is still winning tournaments in Japan

The MMA legend finished Amir Aliakbari by first-round knockout in the finals of the Rizin 2016 Openweight World Grand Prix on Saturday at Saitama Super Arena.

Cro Cop landed a beautiful straight left to drop Aliakbari, the former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion, and followed up with another big left before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

“This is a special one for me, 10 years later after winning Pride grand prix,” Cro Cop said on the microphone afterward. ... “I can’t explain it and I can’t explain how happy and proud I am.”

Cro Cop (35-11-2, 1 NC) was granted his release from the UFC earlier this year after being handed a two-year suspension by USADA, the promotion’s anti-doping partner. In November 2015, Cro Cop admitted use of growth hormone to treat a shoulder injury before a bout. USADA pulled him from the fight for usage of a banned substance and handed down the suspension thereafter.

Since he could not fight for the UFC for two years, the 42-year-old asked for his release and the UFC gave it to him. He is still allowed to compete for promotions not under a USADA anti-doping program.

Cro Cop won the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix in 2006 with a first-round finish over Josh Barnett. Rizin founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara was the former Pride president.

Aliakbari (5-1) came in as a top prospect, just about two years into his MMA career after starring as a Greco-Roman wrestler. He won the Greco world championship twice, but one was removed due to a failed drug test.

In the semifinals of the grand prix, Cro Cop defeated Baruto early in the first round with a vicious knee to the body from the clinch. The Croatian star defeated Muhammad Lawal in the quarterfinals Thursday. Aliakbari won a decision against Valentin Moldavsky in the semifinals and beat Heath Herring by decision on the first night.

Marc Raimondi


Formated for CROWN by Darko Žubrinić
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