Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic Rolls Back the Years to Score TKO Stoppage over Satoshi Ishii at IGF
While Mirko Filipovic’s name will always be synonymous with high-kick knockouts, it’s been a while since we actually saw him finish an MMA fight with his weapon of choice. But at IGF: Inoki Bom Ba Ye in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve, the Croatian rolled back the clock to stop Satoshi Ishii for the second time in quick succession.
“Cro Cop” broke Ishii’s eight-fight winning streak when he slashed him open with an elbow in the main event of IGF 2 at the Ryougoku Sumo Hall in August and when they rematched in the same venue at Antonio Inoki’s now traditional year end show, it was that legendary left kick that did the damage.
Filipovic looked to establish his jab early in the opening round and followed up with a couple of hard straight rights before Ishii tried to get the fight to the floor for the first time, but only succeeded in pressing the Croatian up against the ropes.
When Cro Cop narrowly missed with his first head kick attempt of the fight, Ishii took advantage to press him up against the ropes for a second time, but one again the former Olympic Judo gold medalist was frustrated as his opponent easily escaped and circled out.
After some fast exchanges, Ishii finally succeeded in executing a trip, but his attempts to do damage from inside Filipovic’s guard were largely frustrated as the UFC and Pride veteran tied up his hands and, apart from a couple of elbows which slipped through, defended intelligently until the bell.
Both southpaws were looking to find a home for their left hand at the start of the second with Filipovic throwing his straight down the pipe and Ishii attempting more of a looping overhand punch, but the Japanese heavyweight soon switched his strategy and bull-rushed his opponent against the ropes again.
For the second time in the fight, Ishii succeeded in grapping hold of one of Filipovic’s legs and sweeping him to the ground and ended up in guard, but was once again unable to mount much effective offense with the 40-year-old looking particularly dangerous with elbows from the bottom position.
The Croatian took advantage of a slight separation to explode to his feet where he started to find his rhythm and range with a head kick attempt that was blocked, but seemed to scare Ishii, who started to back off.
The momentum was all with Filipovic by this stage and a second head kick found its mark to leave the Japanese fighter badly wobbled with two follow-up left uppercuts collapsing him to his knees just as the bell sounded.
Ishii was unable to recover sufficiently to make it onto his stool, let alone come out for the third round, so Filipovic claimed a TKO victory, which takes him to 30-11-2-1, while Ishii drops to 12-4-1.
In the co-main event, Shinya Aoki was odds on to beat Yuki Yamamoto, but the fight still provided some memorable moments as the Japanese submission specialist registered the first twister win of his career.
Yamamoto was determined to score an upset win and landed a knee flush to the jaw of the reigning ONE FC 155-pound champion early in the opening round. Aoki wore it well and responded with a takedown attempt that he eventually completed, taking his opponent’s back in the process.
Instead of trying to lock in a body triangle and finish with the rear naked choke. Aoki entwined his feet around Yamamoto’s right leg and then cranked his head in the opposite direction to finish the fight with a seldom seen twister.
The win was Aoki’s seventh in succession and improves his record to 37-6-0-1. There was some kind of altercation afterwards and an enraged Yamamoto had to be restrained by his cornermen in the aftermath of a defeat that sees him drop to 6-7-3-1.
Earlier in the night, super heavyweights Chris Barnett (12-1) and Justin Willis (2-1) scored first-round TKO wins over Shinichi Suzukawa (1-3) and YusukeKawaguchi (16-9), respectively, while Ramazan Esenbaev (8-1-1) squeezed past Kiuma Kunioku (34-25-9) courtesy of a split decision in lightweight action.
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