Fight Week Previews: Junior dos Santos vs. Mirko Cro Cop

By E. Spencer Kyte (

Words can’t accurately express how excited I am for this fight, though I’ll certainly try my best.

While Junior dos Santos burst onto the scene just eleven months ago by delivering an uppercut of destruction to the dome of Fabricio Werdum, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has been doing this for a decade.

One of the most feared strikers in the history of the sport, the former Pride standout takes a big step up in competition to face one of the young lions of the heavyweight division.

Junior dos Santos (8-1-0) versus Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (25-6-2, 1 NC)

Two words: Black House.

While the Croatian superstar is the big dog of his own gym, the young Brazilian works at the same establishment as Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and The Nogueiras. There is no way that spending every day working every day with that collection of champions doesn’t greatly improve your skill set.

Though dos Santos has an edge in training partners, “Cro Cop” comes away with a sizable advantage in terms of both experience and the opposition he’s faced.

Filipovic has faced a Who’s Who of champions and challengers over his career, including Fedor and Aleksander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva and “Minotauro” Noguiera. As impressive as “Cigano” has been in his two UFC wins, the former Pride Open Weight Grand Prix champion has a more extensive highlight reel.

Some will argue with my earlier statement that “Cro Cop” is facing a step up in competition this time around, pointing to his past greatness and the level of competition he’s faced over the years.

While that is very much true, his time in the UFC has resulted in wins over two marginal opponents and defeats to middle of the pack contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheick Kongo.

As great as “Cro Cop” once was, the guy who defeated Mostapha Al-Turk in Germany was not the same Mirko Filipovic that used to send people to the hospital with his deadly left leg.

Additionally, it’s not as if dos Santos has simply beaten on weaker opponents. After all, his introduction to the UFC was a stunning upset of then title contender Fabricio Werdum. Though he was given a step back in his destruction of Stefan Struve, the young Brazilian is a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division and a definite threat to the Croatian.

Consider this a potential “Passing of the Torch” match and one that could certainly produce some fireworks.

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