The ultra explosive Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic looked to make a smashing entrance into UFC, as the Croatian sensation, the former head of his national anti-terrorist squad, tangled with Brazilian jiu jitsu specialist Gabriel Gonzaga in UFC 70-Nations Collide from the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, England.
"Cro Cop" entered with the badass nickname and the badass rep, but left with a badass headache, as Gonzaga unleashed a high right leg to Filipovic's temple that put the Croat to sleep immediately at 4:51 of the first highly shocking round.
The Croat was supposed to use Gonzaga as a steppingstone to a scrap with Randy Couture, but this is MMA, where the unexpected seems to be commonplace. In the last UFC offering, Matt Serra upset Georges St-Pierre, and this result was no less shocking to MMA devotees.
Couture interviewed Gonzaga afterwards. He told the Brazilian that the style of "Cro Cop" would be preferable to him, but he still looked forward to getting into the Octagon with him. Couture, by the way, said prefight that Gonzaga would pull off the upset. The man, who did the Davy on Goliath thing on Tim Sylvia in UFC 68, knows his upsets.
The lefty Filipovic has a snappy jab, and has redwood trunks for legs. He unleashed a left leg to Gonzaga in the first, who caught the toss and took him down. He snapped on guard, as Gonzaga yearned to land elbows. A slice opened on Filipovic's scalp quickly, and Gonzaga studiously worked his bulk advantage (243 to 225 pounds). The action went into a lull, and the ref stood the pair up. Bad idea for Filipovic, who ate a helping of leg, something he'd force fed to countless foes in the past.
The 32-year-old "Cro Cop" is now 22-5-2, while the newest UFC upset specialist, the Massachusetts resident Gonzaga, age 27, left the Octagon with a 8-1 mark.
In a pre-feature, Andrei Arlovski, 28, faced Fabricio Werdum, 29, in a heavyweight matchup. The Brazilian Werdum sported a 9-2-1 mark coming in, while the Chicago resident Arlovski, the former UFC titlist, was 12-5. The two were in standup mode to start and the Pitbull felled Werdum with an uppercut, or perhaps he was playing possum, because he invited the Belarus-born Arlovski to roll with him and he declined. The two looked evenly matched in the second, but Werdum wasn't winning in the judges eyes, as he continually backed up. He landed a few rights, and flurried at the end of the round, but simply wasn't offensive minded enough. Herb Dean commanded the fighters to work harder before the third. It didn't really work. Werdum, save for a desperation rush with 20 seconds to go, never showed a game plan and the judges showed him what they thought of it, giving Arlovski a UD3 win. This one was a dud. Leather lungs Joe Rogan--God, does he shout like that all the time, or just the whole frickin' time he's announcing a UFC event?--interviewed Arlovski after and the Pitbull acknowledged that the action could have been juicier.
Ultimate Fighter alumnus Michael Bisping, 28, met Australian 8-9-2 Elvis Sinosic, 36, in a light heavy tussle. Entering at 14-0, the Liverpudlian/Mancunian Bisping drew a roar from the homies in the stands and he got right to work against Elvis. He tossed E to the floor, and rained down blows as Sinosic tried to parry the strikes. Bisping is a singular minded worker, with violence on his mind from minute one. He sliced E up with elbows and almost stopped the outgunned Aussie as the round closed.
In the second, E caught the Count with a knee and sent him to the mat. He looked to clamp the hooks in him and apply a choke but Bisping reversed his position, and finished the job with a concerted ground and pound. The official time: 1:40, TKO.
OCTAGON ODDS AND ENDS--Dana White announced that Matt Serra and Matt Hughes will coach Ultimate Fighter season six. Serra stirred the pot when he said, "Matt Hughes, he is a dick. A very talented dick. I'm looking forward to the fight. I feel like a winner already just getting to hit him in the face."
--UFC 71 will run on May 26, from Vegas, with Chuck Liddell looking to overturn a 2003 loss to Quinton Jackson. Iceman avenged losses to Jeremy Horn and Randy Couture before.
--Watchers had to sit through multiple viewings of Girls Gone Wild video offers. I guess Joe Francis is looking to cash out in a big way in case he gets jail time. He's been detained and is fighting charges that he enticed underage girls to appear in his videos, bribery and drug possession.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV