September 10, 1974
|Other names||Cro Cop|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight||234 lb (106 kg)|
|Reach||73.0 in (185 cm)|
|Style||Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Boxing|
|Team||Cro Cop Squad Gym
|Years active||1996–2003 Kickboxing
|Amateur boxing record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Mirko Filipović (Croatian pronunciation: [mîrkɔ fĭːlipɔːʋitɕ]; born September 10, 1974) is a professional Croatian Heavyweight kickboxer, mixed martial artist and former Croatian law enforcement officer. Filipović was a former member (2003–2007) of Croatian Parliament. His nickname, Cro Cop, short for "Croatian Cop", comes from his membership in Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit, Croatia's most elite Police Special Forces tactical unit.
Filipović has been successful in both K-1 and Pride Fighting Championships. On September 10, 2006, he won the Pride 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix, and in 2007 began fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Filipović is famous for his left high kicks, with which he has knocked out many of his opponents. He has been famously quoted as describing his kicks as, "Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery."
A martial arts enthusiast since his youth, Filipović started his professional career in 1996 as a kickboxer, following in the footsteps of his compatriot Branko Cikatić. Before turning pro Filipović was said to have accumulated an amateur boxing record of 40–5 (31 KO's). At the time, Filipović was working as a commando in the Croatian police anti-terrorist unit Alpha (stationed in Lučko near Zagreb), which earned him his nickname "Cro Cop". He also fought several times early in his career under the nickname "Tigar" (Croatian for "tiger"). His entrance theme song is The Wild Boys by Duran Duran.
In 1996, at the age of 22, Filipović entered the K-1 World Grand Prix elimination tournament. After defeating the previous year's finalist, Jérôme Le Banner, Filipović was stopped in the next round by Ernesto Hoost. He returned to K-1 three years later in 1999, knocking out British fighter Ricky "Tank" Nicholson, but subsequently dropped a decision against Swiss fighter, Xhavit Bajrami. Despite this, Filipović was given a wildcard into the world tournament where he shocked the kickboxing world by defeating highly regarded K-1 fighter Mike Bernardo. Filipović went on to knock out Japanese star Musashi and Australian karate fighter Sam Greco on the same night before being stopped again by Hoost. It was later revealed that Filipović actually entered the ring with a broken rib, a result of his previous fights.
Filipović continued to have successes in K-1, winning a number of matches against such top ranked opponents as Peter Aerts, Mark Hunt and Remy Bonjasky. He was the first fighter to beat then-undefeated giant, "The Beast" Bob Sapp in 86 seconds, breaking Sapp's zygomatic bone with a left punch. In 2000 he beat karate fighter Glaube Feitosa and boxer Hiromi Amada to reach the finals of the Nagoya Grand Prix, losing by first-round TKO to Mike Bernardo in a rematch. Once again, previously acquired injuries were the major factors in this loss. Filipović actually entered the ring limping on one leg due to injuries sustained in previous bouts. Bernardo repeatedly attacked Filipović's damaged leg and rendered him unable to continue due to injuries. Filipović, however, gained tremendous respect among Japanese fight enthusiasts for his courage and heart. As a finalist he progressed to the final eight for the 2000 Grand Prix, but once again dropped a decision to his nemesis Hoost.
In 2001 he was unexpectedly defeated by Canadian fighter Michael McDonald in the first round. Shortly thereafter, he began a transition to Pride, a Japanese mixed martial arts organization. He fought four more K-1 matches, however, winning each, most notably against Mark Hunt, Remy Bonjasky and Bob Sapp.
In 2001, Filipović began his switch to fighting in Pride, citing personal challenge as well as dissatisfaction with K-1 salaries. A year later, he also left his job at the anti-terrorist unit in order to focus fully on his martial arts career. Since then, Filipović maintained a comparably low kickboxing profile, but nevertheless scored some impressive K-1 victories, most notably against Mark Hunt in March 2002 (unanimous decision), Remy Bonjasky in July 2002 (second round TKO) and Bob Sapp in April 2003 (first round KO).
Following a TKO win over Kazuyuki Fujita in his MMA debut, Filipović made his Pride debut at Pride 17 against Nobuhiko Takada. The bout featured a special rule stating if it went to a decision it would be ruled a draw. Neither fighter was able to stop the other.
Filipović's next Pride fight was against then-middleweight (205lb) champion Wanderlei Silva. This bout featured the same rules as the Takada fight and also ended in a draw. On August 28, 2002 Filipović faced Japanese superstar Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride Shockwave 2002. Filipović won after fracturing Sakuraba's orbital bone.
His next fight was a rematch with Fujita at the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2002 event where he picked up his fourth victory, this time by decision.
Filipović returned to Pride to face heavyweight contender Heath Herring at Pride 26 (June 8, 2003). Filipović defeated Herring decisively, scoring a TKO victory with a left leg kick to the body 3:17 into the fight. His next fight was against Ukrainian striker Igor Vovchanchyn at Pride Total Elimination 2003. Following the powerful kicks of the Herring fight, this fight continued to showcase Filipović's kicking power as he knocked out Vovchanchyn with a head kick 1:29 into the fight. Filipović then defeated Mexican professional wrestler Dos Caras Jr. at Pride Bushido 1, also with a head kick knockout, in 46 seconds.
Filipović's string of Pride wins secured him a chance to fight for the interim heavyweight championship against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on November 9, 2003. Filipović's stand-up fighting proved effective in the first round, allowing him to control the fight from his feet while defending every takedown attempt Nogueira made, and landing a head-kick at the end of the round. Nogueira, however, prevailed in the second round after finally getting a successful takedown, forcing Filipović to submit to an armbar after being mounted. Filipović admitted to Bas Rutten in a later interview that he was overconfident against Nogueira.
In 2004 Filipović put his K-1 career on hold and recruited Fabricio Werdum (a former world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu) as his coach, working on improving his ground fighting skills. He went on to win his next two bouts by KO and TKO at a combined time of only 3:49, against Yoshihisa Yamamoto and 280lb. Ron Waterman.
Filipović then participated in Pride's Heavyweight Grand Prix. In a upset, Filipović was knocked out in the first round by Kevin Randleman. Filipović later submitted Randleman in a rematch at the end of 2004.
Filipović repeatedly requested Pride to let him challenge the heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko. After winning seven straight matches since his loss to Randleman, including a head-kick knockout victory against Aleksander Emelianenko (the 6'6", 255 lb (116 kg) brother of the champion) and wins over Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman and Ibragim Magomedov, Filipović received a chance to fight Emelianenko for the title on August 28, 2005 at Pride Final Conflict 2005. After three rounds, Emelianenko won by unanimous decision and retained his title. Filipović later stated on Croatian national television that he came exhausted to the match, mostly because he was not used to the time difference in Japan and he had sleeping problems. He also said many times after the match that he fought too defensively and cautiously. The champion, likewise, was not in his top form. According to Emelianenko he "could not take full advantage of his right hand during the striking exchanges and had to try to close the distance", due to a previous hand injury.
On October 23, 2005, less than two months after the loss to Emelianenko, Filipović stepped back into the ring to rematch open-weight King of Pancrase Josh Barnett. After three rounds Filipović received a unanimous judges' decision victory.
On December 31, 2005, Filipović lost his match against Mark Hunt via split decision. Hunt was the more aggressive fighter, an important criterion in Pride judging. Unusually, Filipović wore shoes for this fight, something that had no precedent. This had led to speculation and statements from his camp about Filipović having sustained injuries to his feet before the fight. Filipović himself has never confirmed these speculations. Filipović also displayed considerable problems with his cardio during his fights with Emelianenko, Barnett and Hunt leading to the speculation that he was much too active and a resting period from the ring would work to his advantage.
Filipović re-entered the Pride ring, competing in Pride's 2006 Open-Weight Grand Prix on May 5, 2006. It was during this tournament that he came up with the quote, "Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery". His first match at the Pride Total Elimination Absolute event was against Ikuhisa Minowa, the lighter but highly acclaimed professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. Filipović won by TKO 1:10 into the fight. On July 1, 2006 at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute, Filipović defeated 1992 Olympic judo gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida by technical knockout (leg kicks) in the first round to move on to the semi-finals.
On September 10, 2006, Filipović won the Open-Weight Grand Prix at Pride Final Conflict Absolute. In the semi-finals, Filipović knocked out then-Pride middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva with his trademark left high kick. In the final match, Filipović won a third victory over Josh Barnett, who submitted after sustaining an eye injury. With these two victories, Filipović became the Pride Openweight Grand Prix champion, the first widely recognized championship belt he has ever won. In a post-fight interview with Frank Trigg, Filipović stated if he had not won the tournament, it would have been his last night fighting. The night was also his birthday, and Filipović dedicated winning the tournament to his deceased father.
After his victory at the Open-Weight Grand Prix, a rematch between Filipović and Fedor Emelianenko failed to materialize and on December 12, 2006 Filipović pulled out of the New Year's Eve event, citing both a foot injury and Emelianenko's commitment to meet Mark Hunt at the card in question. Through his official website, Filipović revealed "I still can't kick like I want to. It's the best that we give more time to this injury to heal. I want to be in perfect shape for my next fights." Also in December 2006, rumors began to surface about Filipović entertaining offers from other mixed martial arts organizations; the Ultimate Fighting Championship was one of the promotions that Filipović confirmed came forward with an offer. Rumors continued to circulate about Filipović's future with the Pride FC organization and soon media websites were reporting that Filipović had chosen the UFC for his future.
UFC president Dana White and the UFC officially announced on December 30, 2006 during the post-UFC 66 press conference, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, that Filipović had signed a two-year, six-fight deal with the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts promoter. It was also announced that Filipović would make his UFC debut on February 3, 2007 at UFC 67 in Las Vegas against Eddie Sanchez, promoting him under the name Mirko "Cro Cop" alternatively with and without quotation marks. Filipović defeated Sanchez in the first round via TKO. Filipović entered the octagon under the Pride FC theme.
On April 21, 2007, Filipović faced Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70 in Manchester, England. At 4:51 of round one, Gonzaga won with a head kick knockout. Crocop has stated since that the elbows on the ground confused and damaged him enough that he was disoriented after the stand up, contributing to the subsequent knock-out. During the fall to the canvas, Filipović suffered a minor injury to his ankle and a ligament was detached in his knee. 
Filipović's fight on September 8, 2007 at UFC 75 against French kickboxer Cheick Kongo where he lost via unanimous decision. In a post-fight interview upon his return home, Filipović stated that he cracked a rib during the fight and that the three illegal knees to the groin he received also cost him some strength. In his way to the ring he looked absent and wore a black band on his left arm. Filipović trained with Remy Bonjasky and Gilbert Yvel, and 2003 Abu Dhabi Combat Club champion grappler Dean Lister for this fight. Lister joined Filipović at his home town for a month to train for this upcoming bout. Filipović's coach was Vos Gym's main trainer and muay thai practitioner Ivan "Hydro" Hippolyte. According to his home page, Marijan Žižanović is the new head coach again, since October 1, 2007. Žižanović was his K-1 trainer.
On February 12, 2008, Filipović announced a visit to Japan on his blog. With the foundation of the new MMA event, 'Dream', co-established by FEG running K-1 Hero's and the former Yarennoka! organizing committee members which had managed Pride FC, Filipović officiates ending his career in UFC and the participation into the new event.
After much speculation and many possible rumoured opponents, (including Yoshihiro Nakao and Dong Sik Yoon), Fight Entertainment Group confirmed on March 11, 2008 that Filipović would face Tatsuya Mizuno at Dream 1 on March 15, 2008 at Satiama Arena, in Japan.
When asked about the Croatian's current contract status with the UFC and whether it would interfere with his participation in 'Dream' events, Dream producer and front man Keiichi Sasahara said, "Though I can't share specific details about his contract, there will not be any foreseeable problems arising."
Filipović was vague in answering the question himself, qualifying his response by mentioning his intent to return to the UFC sometime in the future.
"Well, as you all know, I had a bad period in my last two fights, which I'd lost in the UFC," Filipović said. "I don't want anyone to think that I'm running away from the UFC, but I was thinking a lot about how to continue with my career, and I think in this moment, I think Dream is the right place for me."
"Another thing is that I never liked fighting in the cage. I always liked to fight in the ring. The second thing is that I liked fighting in Japan. Japan is like my second home—I feel like I'm home in Japan. All those reasons [have brought me] here, and I'm very happy that I'm going to fight here in Japan. But of course, one day, I don't know when, but definitely I'll be back in the UFC to show that it was just a bad period for me. Now I'm fully recovered, physically and mentally, most important mentally."
On March 15, 2008 he defeated Tatsuya Mizuno by TKO in the 1st round at Dream 1.
His next fight was scheduled to be against Jerome Le Banner at Dream 5, after being rescheduled once due to Filipović sustaining a minor leg injury. However, it was later announced by Filipović himself on his webpage that he would be unable to fight due to his elbow injury worsening and needing surgery. Filipović underwent successful arthroscopic elbow repair in early July.
Filipović's next fight was against Alistair Overeem at Dream 6 on September 23, 2008. After almost half of the first round saw Overeem takedown Filipović twice and the two fighters exchanging stand-up and ground strikes (with Filipović sustaining a cut) the bout was stopped and declared a no contest due to Overeem landing multiple unintentional knees to the groin of Filipović. Filipović stated after the match that he had wanted to continue to fight, as evident by his remaining in the ring, but the ringside doctor would not allow him to continue. Filipović's manager stated that the injury was not serious and that a rematch as soon as possible was sought. Filipović said that he was planning for a long fight and a KO towards the end. He expressed frustration and quoted "I'm angry it ended this way, it seemed as if he was the dominant one, however I wasn't in trouble for a second and was waiting for my opportunities. I prepared very well because I thought the match could last a while. I thought I would knock him down in the end."
Filipović defeated the 30 cm taller and 50 kg heavier opponent from Korea, Choi Hong-man, on December 31 at FieLDS Dynamite!! 2008. The winning leg kick was to the back side of his opponent's left knee and resulted in a TKO win for Filipović. After the fight, Filipović announced that he would have a medical procedure carried out on his injured knee.
On May 18 Filipović issued a press release on his official website and his MMAid account stating his scheduled return to the UFC. His first match upon returning was at UFC 99 in Germany against Mostapha Al-turk. During the bout, Filipović knocked down Al-Turk with punches within the first round, then allowed him to stand. There was controversy surrounding the fight because of the manner in which it finished, after Filipović unintentionally poked Al-Turk in both eyes and the referee failed to see this.
After the one-fight agreement with the UFC, it was announced Filipović was scheduled to return to Dream to face Siala "Mighty Mo" Siliga on July 20 at Dream.10. On July 3, 2009 however, it was reported that he might have re-signed with the UFC after getting an offer "he couldn't refuse" by UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta who personally flew to Filipović's residence in Zagreb. It was later confirmed at the UFC Fan Expo by Fertitta that Mirko had indeed signed a three fight contract with the UFC.
Filipović fought Junior dos Santos at UFC 103. During the third round, Filipović sustained a punch to his left eye that caused him to wave his hand at the referee saying "I can't see". The fight was stopped due to submission, giving Dos Santos the win. After the fight, Filipović showed signs of depression, commenting he felt like "hanging [himself] in my hotel room". A few days later, Filipović seemed more upbeat, and looked to continue his career, saying fighting is the only life he knows, and at least wants to honour the last two fights on his UFC contract. He was quoted as saying "I did a few things wrong in training and in preparation for the Dos Santos fight, and will find the motivation and strength needed to come back".
Since then, Filipović has hired legendary former Muay Thai champion Ivan Hippolyte and revamped his whole training team. The source went on to say "After the defeat by Dos Santos, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic has announced drastic changes in the training methods and composition of Team CroCop. Marjan Zizanovic is no longer his boxing coach. Instead, Cro Cop is now working with the Dutch Muay Thai legend Ivan Hippolyte, who these days resides in Zagreb. Filipović will combine training at his own facility with visits to the Netherlands where he can train with top-notch sparring partners. Igor Pokrajac, Cro Cop’s long-time friend and sparring partner, is also no longer in Filipović's team. Pokrajac continues his career with the UFC, but is no longer training with Filipović although the pair remain on good terms."
Filipović was scheduled to face Ben Rothwell on February 21, 2010 at UFC 110. Just days before the fight, Rothwell was forced to withdraw from the event because of an illness. Australian fighter Anthony Perosh stepped in to replace Rothwell.
During the fight, Filipović dominated for two rounds before opening a cut on Perosh's forehead which forced a doctor stoppage before the third round and awarded the TKO win to Filipović. Filipović fought despite receiving a cut in training that required stitches.
On his UFC profile, Filipović lists his father as his hero.
Marco Jará, a former trainer of Filipović's, who assisted his transition from K-1 to mixed martial arts, was found murdered on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009. His body was found with three gunshot wounds in his stolen car.
Filipović currently lives in Zagreb with his wife, Klaudija, and son, Ivan, along with his two dogs. In November 2003, Filipović ran as a non-party candidate on the Social Democratic Party list in parliamentary elections and attained a seat in the Croatian Parliament. He focused on questions regarding the funding of the police force. At that point he announced that when his term ended in November 2007, he intended to return to the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit. Filipović also dabbled in movies, starring in a 2006 action film Ultimate Force. Adding to his busy schedule, Filipović was also signed by the Croatian football team Cibalia.
26 Wins (20 (T)KO's, 3 Submissions, 3 Decisions), 7 Losses, 2 Draw, 1 No Contest
16 Wins (11 (T)KO's, 5 Decisions), 7 Losses
Legend: Win Loss Draw/No contest Notes