“I remember the fight – he was a huge guy”
Mirko Filipovic, one of the most influential MMA fighters, is to enter the cage in April again after his two-win streak over Satoshi Ishii at IGF. “Cro Cop” will meet Gabriel Gonzaga in the main event of UFC Fight Night 2 on April 11 in Krakow, Poland. Gonzaga, unlike Mirko, suffered two losses in a row before this fight, and it seems to be the perfect time for Mirko’s revenge. In case you don’t remember, Filipovic and Gonzaga met at UFC 70 (Manchester, UK) in 2007 and that time Mirko lost the fight by KO (headkick) in the very end of the first round.
While we’re waiting for this bout to start, why not remember one of Mirko’s most remarkable and dramatic fights against Bob Sapp at K-1 WGP 2003. Twelve years ago no one would think of laughing at Sapp – especially Minotauro Nogeira – because he was not only one of the hugest guys in combat sports (he still is), but one of the most dangerous as well (he now isn’t).
In his interview to Shaun Al-Shatti Mirko remembered: “I had no doubts, but right before me, Bob Sapp knocked out – badly and very brutally, and two times in a row – Ernesto Hoost. And I remember that just like it was yesterday. I was called by my manager and he said, ‘K-1 wants you to fight him.’ I said, I’m in Pride now. He said, ‘Yeah, we know, but nobody else wants to take the challenge fighting him.’ Believe it or not, everybody was terrified of fighting Bob Sapp, especially after he knocked out Ernesto Hoost twice in a row. I said okay, no problem. But I was happy. I remember the fight, and I remember the expression on my face. He was a huge guy”.
Mirko is not small at all but he looked like a teenager standing face to face with Sapp. Cautious and patient, he waited for the best moment, and when the time came he landed a kick to Sapp’s liver followed by a devastating punch from the left. The shot got right above Sapp’s eye, broke his bone and hurt him extremely badly – Sapp collapsed, his face distorted with pain.
Since that time Mirko Filipovic had wins and losses, but despite the outcome he always entered a ring or a cage to fight. Bob Sapp, on the contrary, often shows no sign of competition at all, which is obvious not only for the fans but for his brother-in-arms as well. “I met him one year ago in Japan, when I fought a Japanese pro wrestler in MMA. I asked him, ‘Bob, why are you doing this?’”, Mirko recalls. “I saw some of his fights, he was fighting in Europe. 99-percent of the fights he lost here in Europe, he could’ve kicked their asses easily. Why he didn’t do that? To me, it looked like he was doing that with some intention. He just wanted to lose the fight. Unbelievable. Actually, I didn’t understand his answer. He was trying to explain to me why, but I didn’t understand. Not because I don’t understand English, but because I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me. I said, ‘uh-huh, okay,’ but I didn’t. He’s a huge guy, and enormously strong, especially in MMA. He’s loses fights with guys who are 50-60 kilograms lighter than he is and he could beat them easily. Easily. Why he is doing that, I don’t know.”