Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic vs Dos Caras, Jr.
Some people would consider this fight as taking a lamb to the slaughterhouse. Well in hindsight, it was. But not at the time of the fight, given the context. The fight took place at Pride Bushido 1.
Before this fight, Cro Cop had been on a tear, (the only fight he technically lost out of eight mma fights was against Wanderlei Silva) he looked dangerous and unstoppable. Pride was running out of worthy opponents to put against him. So they literally called an open challenge to anyone willing to fight Cro Cop. Over 50 applicants applied. The pay would be good for the contender of course.
Dos Caras Jr., was considered the most worthy opponent at this time. He was not considered a can. He was on the Mexican National Greco-Roman team, and also had a career as a professional wrestler (scripted wrestling) before starting MMA.
During his first MMA fight in DEEP (The 2nd largest MMA organization in Japan at the time), he executed a beautiful belly-to-belly suplex against a Japanese opponent, Kengo Watanabe.
Watanabe had his arm sticking out during the throw, and it snaps at almost a right angle when he lands. It is very graphic to watch so beware if you look it up. Dos Caras Jr. won by broken arm. He went on to win several more fights in Deep, injuring his opponent's shoulder in his last fight before facing Cro Cop.
So from Pride's point of view, Dos Caras Jr. was worthy to fight Cro Cop because he was a big fighter (6'5, 240lbs) with solid wrestling skills and had won two of his MMA fights by significantly injuring his opponent. He also had a big name from being from a professional wrestling family.
However, Dos Caras Jr. did take this fight on around two weeks notice. This is a notorious thing that Pride habitually did to fighters, give them short notice. Sometimes you can't control it if a fighter gets injured during training or whatever, but I do think Pride pulled that shit on purpose sometimes. A fighter should have at least 4-6 weeks to prepare for a fight.
Oh, did I say that Dos Caras Jr. wears a mask during his fights? Yeah... we'll see that this was not a very good or safe idea.
During the opening stare down, Cro Cop looks at Dos Caras Jr. like a hit man eyeing his next victim. Pretty ice cold. Dos Caras Jr. meets Cro Cop's stare, but doesn't look angry or intimidating. They do shake hands, which is good.
The fight begins, and Dos Caras circles. He tries for the Greco clinch, but Cro Cop stops it. Cro cop is stalking. He avoids a shot by Dos Caras, who then throws a body kick that is blocked. Cro Cop briefly pins Dos Caras in the corner, but doesn't land anything. Dos Caras goes for a running punch, then pulls back for some reason. I think that was a pivotal moment in the fight. He then starts backing up against the ropes! Cro Cop is still stalking...
Then, it happens.
A lightning fast left high kick from Cro Cop clips the top of Dos Caras's forehead. He falls down in a sitting position against the ropes, he's knocked out and limp.
As the referee is rushing in to stop the fight, Cro Cop lands one more brutal punch to the head of Dos Caras. The punch seemed to wake him up from being limp. It all happened so fast the ref couldn't get there in time to save Dos Caras from receiving that extra shot. Cro Cop has that killer instinct, because Dos Caras was done before that punch. That extra shot was dangerous. In the heat of battle, its hard to stop quickly, especially when you know you can go for the kill and land a huge shot. That's where the ref comes in, and the ref tried his best to stop it quickly.
Blood is gushing out of Dos Caras's right forehead. His mask cut him badly from absorbing the impact of the kick. At least he's not knocked out and looks coherent, but he's a mess. The camera does not show how much blood there was, but people in the audience that night said blood was pouring down his face before he was covered in towels. The camera didn't show this maybe as a courtesy to Dos Caras, because he had to take his mask off so doctors could look at the wound.
It wouldn't have been so bad had he not worn a mask, because the mask really helped open a huge gash on his forehead from that kick. It was brutal. Dos Caras has his head covered in towels and he is surrounded by medical staff.
Cro Cop looks like a badass after the fight. However, like a true honorable warrior, he walks over to Dos Caras and tries to shake his hand, but Dos Caras keeps his head covered and doesn't acknowledge Cro Cop. Dos Caras is hurt and ashamed.
The look on Cro Cop's face when he turns around after trying to shake hands with Dos Caras is kind of sad. Like he felt guilty for hurting Dos Caras Jr. Like it really was taking a lamb to the slaughterhouse.
This makes me sad to see too. Such is the violence of this sport, where if you are not prepared or worthy to fight against a skilled opponent, then it is straight up dangerous to get in the ring.
Blood is seeping through the towel covering Dos Caras's head. I never heard how many stitches he needed after this fight.
The replays they show of the kick landing are horrendously brutal. Dos Caras ducked instead of trying to block that kick.
The lesson to be learned is that if you are going against a great kicker, keep your hands up! Protect the side of your head at all times from the kick! Easier said than done of course.
I have nothing but respect for Dos Caras Jr for even getting in the ring with Cro Cop. That takes balls, that takes a man. I am happy to hear that he went on to have a successful professional wrestling career. He's a big name today known as Alberto Del Rio. He looks great and I hope it is lucrative for him. All the more respect to him because he knows what real fighting is like. He seems like a nice guy in his interviews from his MMA days as well.
I will say though that his next fight against Nakamura was the most boring Pride fight I've ever seen (at the awful Pride 27 card).
As for Cro Cop, he went on to become, well, a legend in MMA. He achieved enormous success in Pride. He's one of the most dangerous strikers of all time. I have so much respect and admiration for him and his work ethic. I also like how well spoken he is. He seems intelligent, like an intellectual almost. We'll talk about him more throughout this website.
Mirko Cro Cop and Alberto Rodriguez (Dos Caras Jr.), thank you for fighting in Pride.
Written September 2012