It wasn’t a left leg taking him to the cemetery, but a slicing elbow that ended Roque Martinez’s night against Mirko Cro-Cop at RIZIN 13.
Heavyweight legend Mirko Cro-Cop was back in action on Sunday at RIZIN 13 in Saitama, Japan. There, the Croation ex-Police Officer and Pride/UFC veteran took on Guam’s Roque Martinez. Cro-Cop (properly Mirko Filipovic) had been scheduled to face Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson in a heavyweight Grand Prix alternate bout at Bellator 200 months back, but had been forced out due to injury. RIZIN 13 represented his first fight back in action.
Martinez was on a nine-fight unbeaten streak heading into the fight, including wins over Jaideep Singh and Jerome Le Banner. Cro-Cop, meanwhile, had won eight straight heading into their bout at RIZIN 13.
Early action saw the pair trading kicks, and that, of course, was an approach that would favor the legendary kickboxer from Croatia. Cro-Cop would go to the body hard with a thunderous kick, but a second was caught by Martinez, who was looking to dump his opponent on his back. Cro-Cop, however, displayed admirable balance for a 44-year old man as he hopped back to the ring ropes and stayed standing. And with the fight staying standing, it remained in the veteran’s wheelhouse. Cro-Cop began peppering Martinez with uppercuts in the clinch, and Martinez was then bloodied by an elbow over the top. Unable to stop the bleeding, the doctor called the fight, giving Mirko Filipovic his ninth straight win.
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) September 30, 2018
Martinez, needless to say, was not happy with the result.
With Cro-Cop marching slowly towards retirement (possibly by the end of the year), it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. RIZIN no doubt plans to have him at their year-end show, but there’s always a chance that he could pop up in Bellator, depending on how the next couple events, just weeks away, play out for that promotion. Bellator 207 and 208 both feature heavyweight grand prix semi-finals, between Ryan Bader and Matt Mitrione, and Fedor Emelianenko and Chael Sonnen. Beyond that, Tim Johnson faces Cheick Kongo, and Roy Nelson takes on Sergei Kharitonov. Cro-Cop would not look out of place against any of them.
Filipovic has not lost since 2014, and has defeated King Mo, Gabriel Gonzalez, Satoshi Ishii, and the otherwise unbeaten Amir Aliakbari in that span.