Former Pride and UFC fighter Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic overcame a slow start to secure a TKO stoppage over Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.
The bout headlined the second round of the Rizin Fighting World open-weight grand prix which took place earlier today at the acclaimed Japanese arena, Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
Lawal secured the early takedown, putting “Cro Cop” on his back and went to work, posturing up and landing strikes from inside guard. The referee stood the fight up midway through the round and the Croatian fighter came back into the fight with some heavy kicks. A straight nailed Lawal early in the second round and Filipovic capitalised, landing a series of lefts to force the stoppage.
He now moves on to face former Judoka and Sumo fighter Baruto who defeated veteran Japanese fighter Tsuyoshi Kosaka in the semi-main event. Baruto out-wrestled and outworked Kosaka to claim the unanimous decision.
On the other side of the bracket, world champion wrestler Amir Aliakbari remained undefeated with hard fought decision win over Heath Herring. Aliakbari dominated the first round, throwing his opponent around and out striking him on the ground. With the gas tank near empty, Herring came back in the second round however it wasn’t enough as Aliakbari was awarded the decision win.
In the semi-final, Aliakbari will face Valentin Moldavsky after he secured a decision win against Szymon Bajor.
The semi-final and final will take place in two days time on the New Years eve Rizin event which will also take place at the Saitama Super Arena.
Earlier on the card, Rin Nakai submitted a game Kanako Murata with a third round submission while much hyped Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa made a successful MMA debut, stopping Nikita Sapun with punches in the first round. It wasn’t easy going for the 18-year-old after he was caught forced to fight off a deep armbar in the early part of the fight.