Mir-Cro Cop a battle of opposites

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:38 PM ET

There is little guesswork when it comes to strategy for the main event at UFC 119 on Saturday.

When heavyweights Frank Mir and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic enter the Octagon at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, neither plans to stray far from his comfort zone.

Mir, a ground specialist who has looked more comfortable in his standup game in recent years, will look to keep the fight on the mat.

“As far as comfortable to where I’m relaxed enough to allow him to fire off one of those kicks at my body or my head, no no no,” says the former heavyweight champ.

“The sense of fear always keeps you sharp.”

Filipovic says he has immense respect for Mir’s ground game, but is prepared for wherever the fight takes him.

“I’m not sure that I’m on the same level of grappler like Frank is, Frank is maybe the best grappler in UFC today and definitely I won’t stretch my luck on the ground,” says Filipovic, who is coming off a rare submission victory over Pat Barry in June at UFC 115 in Vancouver.

“Everybody knows that I will try to keep Frank in a standup position.”

UFC 119, the fight club’s first card in Indianapolis, will also feature a co-main event between light heavyweights Ryan “Darth” Bader and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Also, hometown fighter Chris Lytle will take on former welterweight champ Matt Serra. All fighters made weight at Friday’s weigh-ins.

Mir, who at 252 lbs. comes into the fight 25 lbs. heavier than Filipovic, says he is under no illusion a win will catapult him any higher in the heavyweight ranks.

“A win over Mirko would be a very high-profile and noticeable win. But as far as moving me up, I still think that Cain Velasquez is obviously the top of the list,” says Mir of the man who will take on champ Brock Lesnar in late October.

“Junior dos Santos is heavy on their heels. And then I think the rest of the heavyweights are going to fall around that middle area. And I think I’d put myself in that area.”

Mir was slated for a rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Rogerio’s twin). When that bout fell apart, Filipovic got the call and says he felt compelled to take the fight.

“(UFC owner) Lorenzo Fertita called me and asked me if I could do a favour for the UFC and if I could jump in for Nogueira when Nogueira was hurt. I was in the middle of my vacation with my family, but I feel a responsibility to the UFC and to the UFC fans.

“I won a lot of money in UFC. I earned that money. That money wasn’t given to me as a present. But they gave me the opportunity to earn it.

“I didn’t want to disappoint — maybe it sounds pathetic — but I didn’t want to disappoint UFC fans and I didn’t want to disappoint UFC as well.”

jose.rodriguez@sunmedia.ca


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