Yes, you read that right. Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filopovic is set to face Ralek Gracie, a BJJ blackbelt, in a submission grappling match at DREAM 4. The match will take place under modified Abu Dhabi rules. There will be two five minute rounds, no points and the win must come by submission. If a submission does not take place the match will end in a draw.
If you’re new to mixed martial arts, this is just about as odd as Michael Jackson showing up at UFC 84 this past Saturday. Cro Cop is a former K-1 kickboxer who has been notorious throughout his MMA career for being stubborn about learning the submission grappling aspect of mixed martial arts. Cro Cop has always relied on his stellar striking and takedown defense to lead him to victory.
Cro Cop commented on the surprising news via his blog on MMA-ID.com:
This is probably something you didn’t see coming, it came really out of blue. However, in a given circumstances, this is a unique opportunity for me to test my ground game against top level competition and it’s going to be exciting.
I’ll prepare for this match with my grappling coach Marcio Corletta, a two times world champion.
As odd as this is, this has to be good news for Cro Cop fans. He has obviously decided to embrace this aspect of the game if he willing to take on a Gracie on such a high-profile stage. Cro Cop has been heavily criticized over the years as being a one-dimensional fighter, which was validated by his struggles in the UFC in 2007. In the highly unlikely event that Cro Cop actually wins or even does well enough to hold out for a draw, it would certainly send a message to the world’s heavyweights that there’s more to Cro Cop than just his left leg.