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Mirko Filipovic - "Cro Cop"

Mirko Filipovic was born on September 10, 1974 in Croatia. During his professional tenure he has been billed as Mirko Cro Cop, a hint as stint as a Croation law enforcement officer before turning to kickboxing and the eventually to a mixed martial artist.

His professional career began in 1996 when he began kickboxing professionally. Prior to that time, even as an amateur, it has been said that he accumulated quite a record, with some 31 KOs. During this time he worked as a commando in the Croatian police anti-terrorist group known as Alpha. During his early career he fought under the nickname; which is Croation for tiger.

At the age of 21, in 1996, Filipovic entered the elimination tournament of the K-1 World Grand Prix. He managed to defeat the finalist from the previous year, Jerome Le Banner but was unfortunately stopped by Ernesto Hoost in the next round. In 1999 he returned, knocked out the British fighter, Ricky "Tank" Nicholson but was once again stopped; this time by the Swiss fighter Xhavit Bajrami. Nevertheless he managed to snatch a wildcard that gained him entrance into the world tournament. In that appearance he set the kickboxing world on edge by taking out the very highly favored K-1 fighter Mike Bernardo. The fight was such a surprise that many still consider it to be one of the biggest upset victories in the history of the K-1. Following that win, Filipovic went on to knock out both the Australian karate fighter Sam Greco as well as Japanese star Musashi; both on the same night.

Although he was eventually stopped once again by Hoost, Filipovic continued successfully in K-1, winning numerous matches against such top ranked stars as Mark Hunt, Remy Bonjasky and Peter Aerts. In fact, he was the first fighter to knockout "The Beast", Bob Sapp, after just 86 seconds. In 2000 he reached the finals of the Nagoya Grand Prix by beating karate fighter Glaube Feitosa and Hiromi Amada. In a rematch he came up against Mike Bernardo, who took advantage of Filipovic's previously sustained injuries and repeatedly attacked his opponent's bad led; despite the fact Filipovic had entered the ring obviously limping on it. Although those attacks eventually rendered Filipovic unable to continue, he gained the respect of Japanese fight enthusiasts for his heart and courage.

Filipovic began a switch to fighting in PRIDE in 2001; citing both his dissatisfaction with the K-1 salaries as well as personal challenges as reasons for the switch. Within a year he left his job in the anti-terrorist unit in order to focus more fully on his martial arts career. Since that time he has continued kickboxing; however, it has been in a much lower profile than previously.

After making the switch to PRIDE, Filipovic's career began to truly expand and secured a string of wins; which would ultimately grand him an opportunity to fight against Antonio Rodrio Nogueira, the interim heavyweight champion, November of 2003. While Filipovic's fighting was effective in the match, he was defeated in the second round by Nogueira. Later Filipovic would state in an interview that he had been too confident in the match against Nogueira.

In 2004, Filipovic recruited renowned Jiu-Jitsu coach Fabricio Werdum as his coach and proceeded to work on his ground fighting skills. That same year he received an upset in the first round of the PRIDE GP by Kevin Randleman but rallied back in a rematch later that year.

For quite some time Filipovic had been requesting PRIDE to give him a challenge against the heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. He finally received the opportunity to fight Emelianenko in August of 2005 at Pride's Final Conflict 2005. Emelianenko won by unanimous decision after three rounds. Considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, MMA fighter in the world; Emelianenko would later admit that he believed Filipovic to be his toughest opponent. For his part, Emelianenko cited his decision to play too defensively and cautiously as the reason for the loss.

Two months later, he made it back into the ring in a rematch against open weight King of Pancrase, Josh Barnett. He received a unanimous decision victory after just three rounds.

Since that time he has received several other notable victories including a total knock-out victory in just over one minute in the Total Elimination Absolute event against Ikuhisa Minowa. Two months later, in July of 2006, he also defeated the 1992 Olympic judo gold medalist, Hidehiko Yoshida. On September 10, 2006; he received two overwhelming victories in the Open Weight Grand Prix, receiving the Open-Weight Grand Prix champion title. Interestingly enough, the win occurred on his birthday. Filipovic stated later that had he not won the tournament, he would have stopped fighting.

In his personal life, Filipovic lives in Zagreb with his wife, Klaudija and their son, Ivan. In 2003 he ran as a non-party candidate on the Social Democratic Party list in parliamentary elections and went on to attain a seat in the Croation Parliament. Much of his platform involved funding of the police force; harkening back to his days in the anti-terrorist unit. He also has film work to his credit; including the movie "Ultimate Force."

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