Saturday 17 February 2018

Cro Cop winds back the clock with a stunning finish and anti-doping chief joins UFC

UFC fighter Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic
UFC fighter Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

This week’s MMA column takes a look back at UFC Krakow, sees the Republic of Ireland join IMMAF and the UFC announce the appointment of a drug Czar.

UFC Krakow Review

UFC Fight Night 64 went down in Kraków, Poland last weekend. While the fight card may have been devoid of big name fighters it certainly made up for it with some outstanding fights and sensational finishes.

The second fight on the card featured Scotland’s Stevie Ray. Ray stepped up on 15 days’ notice to make weight and put on a dominant performance, stopping his Polish opponent in the second round. Ray thoroughly outclassed his foe and has probably secured his place on the card when the UFC heads to Glasgow in July.

Ray’s fellow Scottish fighter, Joanne Calderwood didn’t fare as well. Calderwood looked distracted from the get go and never really landed a punch in anger.

All credit must go to her Russian opponent for seizing the opportunity. Maryna Moroz landed some crisp strikes to back up Calderwood against the fence. Once the fight hit the mat Moroz was quick to shift her hips and latch on an armbar submission. Though it looked like Calderwood would pull her arm out the Russian adjusted and coaxed a tap in under two minutes of the first round.

England’s Leon Edwards had been flying under the radar a little during the promotion of the first UFC event in Poland. Safe to say, his eight second knock out has firmly placed him in the UFC’s shop window.

UK stand-out Jimi Manuwa took a three round decision in the co main event. Though the fight was a little lacklustre, torn ligaments in Manuwa’s knee probably took a little pep out of his step. In post-fight interviews Manuwa revealed he had only been cleared to fight one week before the Polish event.

Having not sparred or trained properly in the month before the fight ‘The Poster Boy’ will leave Poland after a hard fought victory and head to surgery.

In the main event forty year old Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic ignored his age, inactivity and underdog status to best Gabriel Gonzaga with a TKO finish in the third round.

Cro Cop fight finish and post-fight interview below.


After a slow and cautious first couple of rounds, Cro Cop saw his opportunity as Gonzaga pressed him up against the fence. The Croatian stunned the Brazilian with a couple of short sharp elbow, dropping Gonzaga to the mat.

As Gonzaga tried to cover up Filipovic unleashed a hail of elbows from inside the guard. As the cuts began to open, Gonzaga could do nothing but cover up, forcing the referee to intervene.

The win was Cro Cop's first in the UFC since June 2010 and was sweet revenge for the loss at the hands of Gonzaga in 2007.

IMMAF Welcomes the Republic of Ireland

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation officially confirmed the Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA) is being recognised by their organisation for the Republic of Ireland.

The news broke during the recent UFC press tour to promote UFC 189: Aldo vs McGregor.

The IAPA was formed in late 2014 with the stated purpose of “creating a framework where Irish MMA, and its associate clubs, coaches & fighters, would become recognised as a legitimate sport in Ireland…under the all-encompassing umbrella of the Irish Sporting Council (ISC).”

The movement has won great support from gyms and coaches across the country. This was well illustrated by the impressive turnout at January’s “Injury Prevention in MMA” seminar in Dublin; part organized by IAPA founder and president John Kavanagh.

IMMAF was founded in Stockholm, Sweden on February 2012. The express purpose of the Federation is to organise and support national associations like IAPA where there are no government associations already in place.

In the US, State Athletic Commissions are government bodies that organisation and regulate sporting competitions across the fifty states. If, like in Ireland, there is no government regulatory body in place to work with the MMA community, IMMAF will help create and support one.

Last week the Ultimate Fighting Championship put its full weight behind IMMAF in an effort to help the global growth of the sport. Additionally, the UFC will again host to the IMMAF World Championships as part of International Fight Week before Conor McGregor’s fight in Las Vegas. Last year the championships saw 110 male and female athletes represent 22 countries in over 100 fights.

The Irish new organisation has taken its name from its association with the 60 year old Irish Amateur Wrestling Association (IAWA). The IAWA is Ireland’s National Governing Body for wrestling and associated grappling arts, including Pankration.

IAPA spokesperson Dean O'Sullivan commented: “The Irish Amateur Pankration Association is delighted to have officially become a member of the International MMA Federation. We hope to work closely with our international colleagues to promote and support the development of MMA during these very exciting times.”

Rampage removed from UFC 186 as court find in favour of Bellator FC

Remember when Burger King started selling Big Macs? Or the time you could get Guinness in a Budweiser can? Of course, none of these things happened because it wouldn’t make any sense. Why would one company think they could just start selling another company’s product?

Well, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson recently left rival company Bellator Fighting Championship in a blaze of glory. Bellator were waving his contract saying he still had some work to do but the UFC went ahead and matched him for a fight anyway.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson

Rampage was due to make his UFC return at UFC 186 in Montreal, Canada later in April. However, a US court has ruled in favour of Bellator granting an injunction against Rampage competing until the contract dispute can be resolved.

His removal from the UFC 186 card ordinarily wouldn’t cause too much stress as fights can drop off cards for a number of reasons. However UFC 186 has been ravaged by pull-outs in recent weeks.

A rematch between current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and former champion Renan Barão was nixed after Dillashaw had to pull out due to a broken rib.

Canadian Rory MacDonald was expected to fight Hector Lombard until the fight was cancelled due to Lombard's failed drug test from UFC 182.

Following the withdrawal of Rampage the UFC announced that Jackson would be replaced by former hockey player Steve Bossé. The UFC also stated: "at the moment, Jackson and his representatives plan to appeal the court’s order, but with the event drawing nearer, the UFC has had to take action to ensure a suitable replacement was found to face Maldonado."

Anti-Doping Expert Jeff Novitzky Joins UFC as Vice President of Athlete Health & Performance

To back up its tough talking in February the UFC has hired Jeff Novitzky as Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance.

Novitzky was a federal agent for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008. Novitzky led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids. In his career he has worked some high profile cases including the investigation in BALCO and steroids in baseball, investigating disgraced Olympic sprinters Marion Jones, Justin Gaitlin and Tim Montgomery and chasing the Tour de France cheat Lance Armstrong.


Novitzky will play a leading role in the creation and implementation of a program, scheduled to be unveiled during the summer. If successful, the new measures should seriously deter the amount of fighters tempted to cheat with PED’s. Here’s a summary of what the UFC hope to achieve in the 12 months after their new testing regime begins on July 1st.

• UFC will advocate the Athletic Commissions to test all fighters competing at UFC events.

• In the 12 months after July 1st meaning there’ll be approximately 1,000 ‘in competition’ tests carried out across their 585 fighter’s active during the period.

• All 585 UFC fighters are eligible for random, ‘out of competition’ tests whether they are preparing for a fight or not.

• The UFC in conjunction with the Athletic Commissions will subject all main event and title fighters to enhanced, out of competition testing.

• They will be asking the Athletic Commissions to adopt harsher penalties in line with the WADA two year ban for first time PED offenders and life time bans for repeat offenders.

 “I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport," Novitzky said. "I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes.”

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