In what is likely to be the last stand for one of MMA’s most beloved fighters, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic faces heavy-hitting Patrick Barry this Saturday at UFC 115.
Since Cro Cop arrived to the UFC in 2007, he’s gone 3-3. And while none of the losses are embarrassing blights on his record (not even the Gonzaga KO), all of the wins are against mediocre fighters—Eddie Sanchez, Mustapha Al Turk, and Anthony Perosh. It’s certainly been a let down considering Cro Cop’s grandiose arrival in the West after tearing through the PRIDE 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix.
Barry goes into Saturday with far less pressure to perform than Cro Cop. From what we’ve seen of the former K-1 kickboxer in fights with Dan Evenson, Tim Hague and Antoni Hardonk is a measured aggression that can usually make up for his defensive lapses. He finished Evenson with thunderous kicks to the legs and busted up Hague and Hardonk with leg strikes as well. Against Hague, however, Barry revealed a serious lapse in mat skills and awareness when he was submitted after dominating the fight.
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If Cro Cop is smart, he should use his underrated takedowns to put Barry on his back where he is likely at the mercy of the Croatian. Filipovic possesses some of the most brutal Ground and Pound in MMA; check out the classic fight with Nogueira. Barry doesn’t flake if he gets punched, as Hardonk connected often and solidly in their fight, but Cro Cop could win an easy decision by not playing Barry’s game on the feet.
But, if he does want to kickbox with Barry, I refuse to write off Cro Cop as most have done. Cro Cop’s K-1 pedigree is simply sterling and, despite it being a decade ago, outclasses Barry’s by far. Not to mention that I’ll take Ivan Hippolyte over Duke Roufus as my trainer any day of the week. People will say Cro Cop can’t stand with the young lion and survive; he did it for three rounds with Junior dos Santos, who is taller and faster than Barry. I'm also suspecting Barry could be a bit star-struck, which can derail a fighter before he even steps into the cage.
To use boxing parlance, I think Cro Cop is the classier fighter in this equation. He has too much experience, too many tricks up his sleeve, and his back is against the wall. Cro Cop by TKO, Round 2