Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cro Cop: Glory Death

Last night Los Angeles hosted Glory 17: Last Man Standing featuring Feather and Heavy weight tournaments and headlined by a rematch between Croatia's Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and New York's Jarrell Miller.  The two had previously faced off in Croatia during a K-1 tournament with Mirko winning a, to some, arguable decision.  Although Mirko has fought nearly 30 kickboxing matches in his career, this would be his first on American soil.  Miller talked huge amounts of trash through the week, claiming he was going to retire the Croatian while in his typical style, Mirko said he'd do his talking in the ring.

At 39, Cro Cop has competed in a steady streak of fights since leaving the UFC after a lackluster run.  Winning the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2012, Cro Cop has gone 7-1 since returning to kickboxing since his last bout in 2003.  After a losing 3 straight in the UFC, Cro Cop has posted a 1-1 record in MMA.  We've all seen fighters go on past their prime but looks like Cro Cop still has plenty in the tank judging from his busy and successful record.  While his fights don't have the same devastating pop they once did, it's easy to see Mirko still has some stuff in the basement.  Going into the fight, The Croatian Sensation stated "I'm training every day...I never take some day off, it's my way of living.  I'm training every morning...that's me, I like it.  It keeps me alive, maybe it sounds pathetic but it's true.  My fighting keeps me alive.  One day when I decide to stop fighting...definitely feel like part of me, died.  And I don't want to die."  A gentleman and a gentle man.  Who can kick your ass...

Tonight, Cro Cop showed his guts, experience and glimpses of his killer instinct as he faced the 21-1 Golden Gloves, World Combat League and K-1 vet Jarrell Miller.  Outweighing Cro Cop by 40 pounds, Miller looked light on his feet and kept busy, throwing lots of punches and knees in the clinch.  Nothing really seemed to land flush though except for a couple of knees to Cro Cop's groin.  Seriously, the dude gets hit in the nuts, a lot.  Round 1 saw Mirko fighting a little tentatively until finding his rhythm and landing some hard shots to the body with a sidekick and a smacking roundhouse to the ribs that made me wince just watching it on my computer; imagine seeing/hearing that in person!  In Round 2, Miller still seemed the busier fighter but couldn't do much damage while Cro Cop looked like he may have hurt his leg after landing a nice body kick.  We saw quick reminders of Mirko's awesome punching power and combinations as he landed a few nice hooks from the outside and some uppercuts in close quarters.  The fight was anybody's to take going into Round 3 where Miller was busier again, smothering Cro Cop and throwing knees in the clinch but not landing.  Mirko threw some nice crisp punches and knocked Miller off balance with a couple trademark high kicks and was awarded a Majority Decision.

While we may not be seeing too many highlight reel knock outs, it's great to see Cro Cop still in shape and doing what he loves with his classic mix of physicality, stoicism, intelligence and humor.  Hopefully Cro Cop returns to the states for more matches so I can see one of my favorite fighters do his Damme thing in real life.  Until then, Hype or Die!

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