Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic stopped Amir Aliakbari in Tokyo to claim the Rizin Open Weight Grand Prix title on New Year’s Eve. The 42-year-old has won several tournaments in MMA and kickboxing, but was visibly emotional after securing this silverware in what is the twilight of his fighting career.
Cro Cop registered a quickfire stoppage in his semifinal bout at the start of the night, finishing Baruto with a knee to the body from the clinch. That gave him an advantage over Aliakbari, who went the distance with Valentin Moldavsky before claiming a split decision.
At the start of the round, Aliakbari backed Crocop into a corner, but decided to disengage, possibly to avoid suffering a similar fate to Baruto. After an initial feeling out period, the Croatian connected with a left hook which dropped the former wrestling world champion.
Aliakbari bounced straight up only to eat another left hand and this time there was no recovering as Cro Cop swarmed him. After a disappointing UFC stint, Cro Cop has now won seven straight fights and established himself as arguably the most decorated heavyweight in the history of the sport.
With the win, Cro Cop’s record improves to 35-11-2-1 and he’s now won MMA tournaments with Pride and Rizin FF, as well as a K-1 Grand Prix in kickboxing. Aliakbari drops to 5-1, but having made his pro debut just over a year ago, the Iranian can feel very proud of his achievement in reaching the final.
In the co-main event, Kron Gracie put in an impressive performance to finish Tatsuya Kawajiri with a second-round submission. The Brazilian came close with an armbar attempt in the opening round, as he simply ran out of ring and found himself hanging out the ropes.
Gracie was getting the better of the stand-up exchanges, but sensibly decided to play to his strengths and pulled guard early in the second stanza. Kawajiri escaped and looked to score with a stomp, but the multiple-time BJJ champion caught his leg, took his back, and sank a rear-naked choke.
There were also wins for Hideo Tokoro, Rene Kubota, Andy Nguyen, Gabi Garcia, and Hayato Sakurai.
Rizin FF World Grand Prix 2016 Results