Saturday, 16 November 2013

MMA: Legend Fight Show 2 Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic vs Alexey Oleinik


MMA is the second sport I like to follow. Though I never tried it myself (I did try some kickboxing though, close enough :) ), I really enjoy watching it.

Recently on the 8th of November he fought at the “Legend Fight Show 2” in Moscow. “Legend” is a very young but promising Russian fighting promotion, which organizes very spectacular shows with real stars and legends of martial arts. Mirko was invited to fight against Alexander Emelianenko (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Emelianenko). It should have been the rematch of the decade, because Mirko finished Alexander in 2004 in the first round with his left high kick. Now Alexander had to take his chance to fight Mirko again, but he lost it because two weeks before the fight he fought drunk in a bar against a 63 years old guy, and then it turned out that Alexander did not prepare properly for the fight against Mirko and the “Legend” authorities decided to fire him.
Any person who knows at least something about MMA heard the name of Mirko “Cro Cop”  Filipović. It is one of the greatest strikers in MMA, who holds the titles of 2006 Pride World Grand Prix Open-Weight Champion, K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 Final Champion, holder of countless awards for the best fights, best knockouts, awards of the Fighter of the Year etc. You can read more about him on Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirko_Filipovi%C4%87

I want to say at once that Mirko is truly my favourite fighter though now he is not at the top of his career and not in his best shape.

So a new fighter was appointed to fight Mirko. It was Alexey Oleinik (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexey_Oleinik), a famous Russian (former Ukrainian) MMA fighter and grappler. Not to say much, Alexey Oleinik won the fight in the first round with a neck crank, and Mirko’s performance was quite disappointing.

And now I’d like to express my thoughts regarding the fight, why Alexey won, why Mirko lost and why I still believe he can win a rematch. I want to highlight that I am not MMA expert and I am just expressing my own personal opinion.

The fight itself lasted almost one round and was mostly on the ground. After the fight I read an interview with Mirko where he told that he wanted to end the fight with a submission, and I thought “Why the heck did you want to wrestle Oleinik? He is a professional grappler, he only wrestles. And you are a striker”.
I know that Mirko paid great attention to his grappling skills BUT I think he mostly uses them to to know how to protect himself against wrestlers. He was told to have one of the best takedown defense and even Fedor Emelianenko did not manage to finish him on the ground. So the chosen tactics, in my personal opinion, was quite weird. And that was the first reason of the loss. Everyone expected great strikes and legendary highkicks, and that was actually what should have been done to defeat Oleinik.

The second factor is moral. I think Mirko hoped for an easy victory. Alexey Oleinik being quite famous in Russia and Ukraine, is not really known in other countries, though he is quite a good fighter. Mirko did not expect serious opposition and when you have such an attitude to the fight, better do

n’t go there. Because anything can happen in a fight and MMA proves that everyday. Oleinik developed good tactics, pushed his manner of fighting in the ring to Mirko and we all know the result. And you know which fight it resembles a lot? The first fight of Mirko and Kevin Randleman (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Randleman) in Pride 2004 Heavyweight GP. Mirko was expected to win that fight easily, but Kevin forced him on the ground and used his favourite ground and pound technique and finished Mirko. Later it was called the Upset of the Year. And that was very close to what happened on “Legend 2” on the 8th of November. In both cases Mirko accepted the manner of fighting of his opponents and seemed to get lost what to do. But in a rematch with Randleman Mirko  won with a guillotine choke and this victory did not even look difficult for him.

 

 The third factor is preparation. Mirko prepared to a striker (because Alexander is a striker and mostly hits and uses boxing technique). Mirko sparring partner imitated Alexander’s technique and Mirko prepared for two months. 6 days a week, 2 trainings a day. That is quite impressive and he really showed serious dedication and professional approach. And then two weeks before the fight it turns out that he prepared all his tactics in vain, because his opponent is a different fighter and moreover a grappler. I really think he was demoralized. Of course in his interview he said that it doesn’t matter, that he is a professional and is prepared to fight anyone. What else he could say? But I really think he was very demoralized, because his preparation was focused on different things. Possibly he did not even pay a lot of attention to his takedown defense because was not expecting much of it from Alexander, and that was the crucial point with Alexey Oleinik.

So generally wrong tactics chosen against a fighter to whom he didn’t prepare together with low moral made a very bad surprise to Mirko.

And now I want to express my opinion why everything is not so bad actually and why he still can win the rematch, if it ever happens.

Mirko is an old wolf. He is experienced, he is tough and he still strikes hard and can win the hardest matches. How to prove it? He won K-1 World Grand Prix 2012. And that is something very valuable. It is not a single fight against some unknown fighter, it is not some small regional or even national tournament, it is K-1 World Grand Prix where the toughest kickboxers of the world fight in uncompromising battles. And all of them I think were younger than Mirko. But anyway he managed at the age of 38, long after the peak of his career, to get the title he could not take when he was still young but already very tough and motivated.

When I first heard about the rematch of Mirko and Alexander, I hoped for Mirko’s victory, but I understood that he has few chances. Despite his bad character, Alexander is a good fighter, he is much younger, and Mirko is not in his best shape. But then I learnt that Mirko won K-1 World Grand Prix, and I thought that … wow he still can do it. That’s why loss to Oleinik was very disappointing, but that doesn’t actually mean a lot. If Mirko prepares properly, he can win the rematch.

What do I think about Mirko’s future career? He is not getting younger, but he still has some years to fight. He returned to his origins in kickboxing and proved that he means business. Kickboxing turned Mirko into “Cro Cop” and striking style in MMA made him a legend of martial arts. There is a very little chance the he ever returns to UFC and wins a heavyweight belt, because he must go a long way to prove that he can fight there. But anything can happen in a fight. He still can try.

All photos to the article were just found on the web, If you have any rights on these photos I will remove the photos on request.