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Mirko Cro Cop vs. Randy Couture - How Would These Two Fighters Match Up?

By Robert Rousseau, ExtremeProSports.com
"Not bad for an old man."

Those were the words that Randy "The Natural" Couture spoke after once again defying logic at the age of 43 and defeating Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In sum, Couture nailed Sylvia with an overhand right that floored him early in the first round and never looked back from there. Even more amazing than the fact that he was able to take his 6-foot-8 inch adversary down time and time again was that Couture dominated the fight on his feet as well.

Hard to imagine that any judge even gave Sylvia a round.

At the time, former PRIDE fighter and Open Weight Grand Prix Tournament Champion Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic was slated to take on Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70 in England. The winner of the scheduled April 21, 2007 encounter was then supposed to take on Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

No one expected Gonzaga to win. It wasn't that people didn't respect him. At the time, he had accumulated a 7-1 overall MMA record with two (T)KO's and five submission victories to his credit. Besides that, he was known to be an outstanding submission fighter with five straight victories, including three straight in the UFC.

It was just that Mirko Cro Cop was Mirko Cro Cop.

But then came the kick heard around the world at UFC 70. That wasn't such a surprise, as Cro Cop was known for his devastating kicks. The problem was that the kick didn't come from him; it came from Gabriel Gonzaga. And as Cro Cop came to, the dream match up between he and Randy Couture died.

But in the true spirit of ExtremeProSports.com, what if somehow this possible match up was resurrected? What if Cro Cop came back to the UFC as the fighter he was before entering the Octagon? Or just as possible, what if Randy Couture found a way to fight Cro Cop in the DREAM organization?

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs. Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC or EliteXC or DREAM Heavyweight Championship

At this point, it's hard to bet against Randy Couture. Why? Simply because every time the masses do, he proves them wrong. Oh yeah, and there's this little thing about him being able to stop Gabriel Gonzaga rather handily, whereas Cro Cop was brutally knocked out by the same man.

However, a match up against the Mirko Cro Cop we used to know would still be a great challenge. Thus, let's give it a whirl.

What Randy Couture must do in order to defeat Mirko Cro Cop

Okay, remember those situations where Couture actually beat the striker at his own game? He did it to Chuck Liddell in their first epic encounter; he did it against Tim Sylvia on March 3rd. And yes, Cro Cop has been on a terrible downward turn. Still, it's doubtful Couture can do the same to Mirko Cro Cop if the Croatian is anywhere near on his game

Along these lines, Couture must get this fight to the ground in order to win. Further, he must be on top, because even if Couture's submission skills have gotten better with age, he is not about to submit Cro Cop from the bottom. Couture only boasts two true submission victories in his entire career, and neither happened from his own guard.

In other words, Couture is probably going to have to take Cro Cop down repeatedly if he wants to improve on that 16-8 record of his. The good thing is that he's fully capable of that.

Said another way, if Gonzaga and Kongo could take Cro Cop down, the best ground and pound fighter in heavyweight history sure has a shot at it. Then again, before his recent fall from grace Cro Cop boasted some of the best takedown defense in the former PRIDE organization.

By the way, it wouldn't hurt Couture if this fight happened in a cage where elbows were allowed. First, the cage would help Couture get Cro Cop to the ground. Second, the Croatian was clearly stymied by the elbows that Gonzaga delivered on him when they fought; in fact, it's this writer's belief that those elbows were what messed with his equilibrium and head enough to allow Gonzaga to deliver the knockout blow.

What Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic must do in order to defeat Randy Couture

First thing's first: Gain his confidence back. Anyone that saw Filipovic fight in PRIDE knows that the person we saw in the UFC was not the same guy. Without his former confidence, there is no way he beats Randy Couture.

Second, Cro Cop needs to shirk Couture's takedown attempts and survive rounds without too much damage if he is taken down. It's that simple.

Can he do it? Well, before his UFC fights, many might have said yes. Now?

Only if he improves his cage awareness ten fold or gets this fight in a ring. Even with all of that, he needs that confidence back. That's the key.

The Final Word on Randy Couture vs. Mirko Cro Cop

In the end, Couture would be the clear favorite in this one, and for good reason. Isn't it interesting that before Cro Cop was signed by the UFC he would've been just as big a favorite?

Despite what has unfolded, this would still be an interesting fight to watch. Couture would want to take the fight to the ground. Cro Cop would want to keep things upright. Ground and pound via TKO or a stand up knockout: What's your pleasure?

Here's to what could be, folks.

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