September 11, 2006by Mike Sloan (email@example.com)
And to think Mirko Filipovic (Pictures)
was actually going to hang up his combat gear for the rest of his life.
Those were basically my thoughts about 30 minutes after Cro Cop spoke with former welterweight title challenger and current PRIDE color guy Frank Trigg on Sundays PRIDE pay-per-view broadcast.
Filipovics emotions were at an all-time high and when he told Trigg that he was going to retire had he lost that this Open Weight Grand Prix was now or never I believed him.
Cro Cop has been to the altar too many times in his career, yet he was always stood up. He was the quintessential bridesmaid, if calling someone with such deadly and destructive weaponry as the Croatian a bride or maid makes any sense. Then again most of those tired and absurd clichés usually lack any sense anyway, but you get the point.
Filipovic finally proved his critics most of them at least wrong by capturing the coveted PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix title in spectacular fashion. He toppled every adversary in the grand prix with total bombardment, not leaving a solitary fight in the hands of the ringside judges.
Japanese underdog Ikuhisa Minowa stood virtually no chance as he was blasted out of there in only 70 seconds. In the second round of the ballyhooed tourney, Cro Cop reduced Japanese legend Hidehiko Yoshida to a pile of rubble thanks to crippling leg kicks. And if that wasnt enough, he obliterated PRIDE 205-pound champion Wanderlei Silva becoming the first person to knockout the Axe Murderer since Vitor Belfort almost eight years ago. Then, of course, came the dismantling of former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett to capture the crown.
His post-fight reaction, how he collapsed in his corner with his teammates while covering his face as he sobbed tears of joy, was quite an emotional scene. Mirko has been fighting professionally for over a decade and he has never taken home a title such as the one he seized on Sunday inside the Saitama Super Arena.
Arguably the fiercest striker in mixed martial arts and one of the most menacing looking figures to ever step foot in a ring, Filipovic was overcome with joy. His usual stone face had been eradicated as the typically emotionless 32-year-old bawled his eyes out in front of not only 47,000 plus fans in attendance, but to millions watching on TV. It truly was one of the most moving moments in the sports history, a microcosm of feelings pent up inside him after years of coming so close yet so far.
Yes, a tear actually filled my right eye after seeing Cro Cop encircled by his team. Yes, he is one of the most deserving guys in the sport to be donned a champion. And yes, the sniper-like fistic assassin is a real human with real emotions. Congrats, Mirko. Your beloved father has never been more proud of you. Barnett and Wanderlei
To many people who follow the sport, Josh Barnett
is a polarizing bloke. Many believe his antics while being interviewed are just camera play, that he is just a cheese ball who cant get enough of himself on TV.
For some reason, many people just dont like him and think hes a primadonna. Not me. I personally take his personality as a breath of fresh air and his answers to questions and general behavior are genuine. Barnett is about as honest a fighter one will ever see and to hear him not make excuses as to why he was trumped by Cro Cop was refreshing.
Barnetts face was a swollen, gruesome mess and it looked like the former King of Pancrase was masquerading as Eric Stoltz in Mask. What does he do? He jokes about it and quotes The Elephant Man. Good for him to take the loss like a true champion and also to intelligently tap out when he did. Who knows what Cro Cop would have done had Barnett not submitted.
No excuses. No disrespect. No negative attitude. Instead of crying over spilled milk or a damaged face, Barnett simply said he looks forward to possibly fighting in Las Vegas on PRIDEs October 21 show at the Thomas and Mack Center.
If only more fighters would have that sort of positive attitude. &
As for Wanderlei Silva
, the Brazilian bomber has nothing to be ashamed of. He fought his heart out and got clobbered by someone who is naturally bigger and who is a better pure striker in terms of technique.
Ive always maintained that if Silva were to fight someone who punches with accuracy like a bigger
Anderson Silva that hed get battered and knocked out. The only drawback to this loss is that now the chances of Silva fighting UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell anytime soon appear to be diminished.
Most casual fans that tuned in to see PRIDE for the first time saw Silva get his head caved in. A Silva-Liddell fight to these select few now looks like a sham. However PRIDE is smart enough to air a pay-per-view spectacular in October based solely on Wanderlei and his magnificent PRIDE career.
Now that I think about it, the loss to Cro Cop might actually make a showdown with Liddell happen sooner. Since Silva didnt win the Grand Prix, he could be deemed damaged goods and maybe Zuffa can buy his contract from DSE at a bargain? Nah. Wont happen. We fans wont get that lucky. Misc. PRIDE Debris
The only time I recall seeing Cyrille Diabate fight was when he squared off against Rick Roufus in kickboxing. I have honestly never seen his fights in DEEP so I was anxious to see him tango with Mauricio Rua. Too bad for The Snake that Rua is the true No. 1 contender for champion Wanderlei Silvas title. After a while, it looked like master against novice. The good thing is that Diabate has tons of potential.
Ricardo Arona was sensational in tearing up Alistair Overeem Im still not sure what Overeem tapped from. It looked like he was raked in the eye, but the broadcast team thought it was his knee. Either way, Arona should be forced to fight Shogun before he gets a crack at Silva.
Aleksander Emelianenkos stoppage of Sergei Kharitonov was thrilling. It was probably the best fight of the night. I dont know about you, but Im totally down for a rematch.
Before I forget, I thought Minotauro beat Barnett. Sure, the fight was a close one and it was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, but in my opinion, the slippery and tough-as-nails Brazilian did more damage and was more effective than Barnett. I thought it should have been him, not Barnett, against Cro Cop.