Thursday, February 8, 2007


By Loretta Hunt

The arrival of heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to the Ultimate Fighting Championship last Saturday could possibly be looked at in future years as the turning point for mixed martial arts in America.

At first, it appeared Zuffa LLC. was making no attempts to hide the fact they had swayed the Croatian striker away from what has been regarded, in recent years, as the number one MMA promotion in the world– PRIDE Fighting Championships. Curiously, the 2006 Open-Weight Champion entered the Mandalay Bay Events Center to the familiar sound of the beating drums of the juggernaut Japanese promotion. (UFC president Dana White would later proclaim Cro Cop picked the music himself.)

Patches of the nearly 11,000 in attendance rose in salute, the bodies swathed in their hero’s signature red-and-white checkers, Croatian flags waving with pride.

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