Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ says he will ‘die trying’ to beat Gabriel Gonzaga in rematch
Eight years after the KO loss that rocked his world, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic says he will beat Gabriel Gonzaga in a rematch, or "die trying."
Back in April, 2007, the former K-1 and Pride star Filipovic rode a five-fight win streak into a heavyweight contender elimination fight against Gabriel Gonzaga. The Brazilian was also on a five-fight win streak but the notorious "Cro Cop" was favored to win and head into a world heavyweight fight against then-champion Randy Couture, next.
Instead, Gonzaga quickly took Filipovic down and battered him until the referee unfairly stood the two back up. Here, it seemed, the kickboxing expert "Cro Cop" would get a second chance to get after the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu-based Gonzaga.
Instead, the black belt went high against the dazed Croatian and knocked him out with a head kick. The moment still stands as one of the most singularly stunning blows in MMA history.
Gonzaga went on to challenge for the heavyweight title, and "Cro Cop" never again reached the top of the heavyweight division. Now, eight years later, "Cro Cop" will get his chance at revenge. Since leaving the UFC in 2011, Filipovic has won three out of his last four MMA fights, in addition to competing in kickboxing, and he’s been given another crack at Gonzaga.
The two will rematch in Krakow, Poland on April 11 in the main event of a UFC Fight Night. It is a moment that "Cro Cop" has wanted badly for years.
"It was one of the fights I will never forget, and I just want a rematch with him," he told Ariel Helwani Monday on The MMA Hour.
"I can’t say I will beat him, but I will die trying. That’s how I feel. I feel good right now. There are a few things I still want to do and definitely fighting Gabriel Gonzaga is one of them."
"Cro Cop" has long been loathe to trash-talk opponents, but he couldn’t help but admit that he believes in his heart that he’s better than Gonzaga."I really believe that I’m a better fighter than Gabriel Gonzaga," he said.
"I don’t want to be a big mouth and I respect him. He’s a great fighter. But I will do my best, definitely. He will do his best. We are going to perform a great show and the fans will be happy."