Ok, maybe we didn't.
When Sherdog.com editor Josh Gross first released the fact that Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic had signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC ), most hardcore MMA fans started trying to figure out why he was releasing an April Fool's joke so early. Mirko Cro Cop leaving PRIDE?
Then on December 30, 2006, it was made official while we watched UFC 66. Joe Rogan hardly spoke about it; for the most part Cro Cop's name on the screen said it all.
The UFC Heavyweight Division will never be the same.
By signing Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic, Dana White has in essence taken the UFC another step toward complete MMA domination. How you ask?
Losing Mirko Cro Cop has weakened PRIDE's powerful stable of heavyweight fighters. Anyone who tells you any different is lying. Cro Cop is widely regarded as the world's second best mixed martial arts heavyweight, and that's nothing to scoff at.
Not to mention that PRIDE fans really loved him. To put the move in context, it's as if Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell or Randy "The Natural" Couture left the UFC for PRIDE.
In fact, the PRIDE organization had to be walking on egg shells the last few weeks trying to come to terms with Fedor Emelianenko ( which they reportedly did ). Had he left as well. . .
Anyway, let's move on.
In short, Dana White has never stolen a better fighter from a major organization in his entire career. With the signing of Cro Cop credibility has been given to the UFC's Heavyweight Division.
Oh yeah, the best roundhouse kick in MMA history was also brought to their heavyweight division.
Simply put, Americans are going to love watching Mirko Cro Cop, much like Chuck Liddell, spurn takedown attempt after takedown attempt by his opponents before knocking them out.
But what will this all mean when he gets down to it with the best UFC heavyweights in the world? Well, let's not get too broad. How about we just look at one possible future match up?
Though undefeated, Sanchez has not yet proved himself on the world stage. However, Andrei Arlovski has.
Wondering how Mirko Cro Cop vs. Andrei Arlovski might go down?
Read on to find out.
Simply put, Cro Cop possesses the best high kick in MMA history. In addition, his low kicks may very well be the best that the game has seen as well.
Cro Cop's takedown defense is unbelievable, and he is very strong in a physical sense. Even the Croatian's ground skills have improved since he began training with BJJ black belt, Fabricio Werdum.
And these improved ground skills were on display against Fedor in their most recent match. After all, how many can boast that they survived on the ground against the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion?
Cro Cop's biggest weakness may be his size ( he is a small heavyweight, only 213 pounds ). Actually, he could probably make the 205 pound weight limit quite easily ( food for thought, Chuck Liddell ). In addition, Cro Cop's cardio has been questioned throughout his career.
Nobody was questioning it after his PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix Tournament victory, though.
Basically he sent Cruz on his way to La La Land with a right from his back.
In fact, Arlovski has demonstrated extreme athleticism and explosiveness throughout his UFC career. This includes an ability to pull off fast submissions such as in his victory over the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion, Tim Sylvia on February 5, 2005 ( Achilles Lock ).
Beyond that, he has shown strong takedown defense and has good cardio.
In terms of weaknesses, Arlovski has not been truly tested in several areas. Can he survive a tough fight on his back? Who knows? How about his takedown skills? Again, who knows?
What we do know is that he has been knocked out four times in his career ( by Tim Sylvia, Pedro Rizzo, Ricco Rodriguez, and Viacheslav Datsik ). Thus, his jaw may be a weakness ( though he did take some decent shots from Tim Sylvia in their most recent encounter ).
Still, that's not a good possible weakness to have coming into a bout with Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic.
Of course in the end, one of them would be proven wrong.
Arlovski is actually the more athletic fighter. Further, he seems to have more power in his hands, even if his punches don't come off as straight as Cro Cop's. In order to win, he would need to connect with these powerful punches.
In order to do this, he'd need to penetrate Cro Cop's defenses and get inside of those devastating kicks.
Is this possible? Yes. Further, if Arlovski really nailed Cro Cop or took him to the later rounds he might have a real shot at ending the fight.
However, he'd be up against a fighter with devastating leg kicks of the variety that he has never faced. Truth is no one has faced a fighter with kicks like Mirko Cro Cop until they have actually faced Mirko Cro Cop.
Further, Cro Cop has the technical striking skills and straight punches to last in a boxing match with Arlovski for a while ( though the longer the fight went, the better off Arlovski would be ).
Initially, you'd have to figure that Cro Cop would attempt to chop the Russian down with low kicks before going for the knockout.
In sum, Arlovski would have to fight Cro Cop like Mark Hunt did in their recent bout. He would need to get inside. Unfortunately, that usually means getting hit quite hard ( it did for Hunt ).
Thus, the most important question in this possible scenario. Could Arlovski handle Cro Cop's power shots on the way in? If the answer is yes, than he could conceivably pull this one off. If not. . .
Either way, here's looking forward to the possibility of the encounter. Cro Cop would have to be the favorite coming in.
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