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Mirko Cro Cop's K-1 Roots

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic spent five years as a professional kickboxer before he made his mixed martial arts debut, and as he prepares to make his return to the Octagon at UFC 110, he says he's returning to his kickboxing roots in his training. So that makes now a good time to take a look back at Cro Cop's kickboxing performance on December 5, 1999, when he advanced to the K-1 World Grand Prix Final. Above is Cro Cop's TKO victory over Musashi in the quarterfinals, and we have two more videos below.

Cro Cop's semifinal win over Sam Greco:

Cro Cop's K-1 World Grand Prix Final loss to Ernesto Hoost:

"I went to Holland to train with K-1 fighters for over a month for this fight," Cro Cop said of his preparation for this weekend's fight with Ben Rothwell. It was very hard, very new to me. Now I am training with sparring partners who are nice people, sure, but not my friends. These are sparring partners who want to knock me out in sparring. In the Croatian media they said it was 'life and death' sparring -- it was not quite life and death, but it was all out fighting, very hard. For every round, I had A-class fighters trying to knock me out."

The 35-year-old Cro Cop is a very different fighter than the 25-year-old you see in these videos. But for those of us who loved watching Cro Cop at his best, it's good to hear that he's getting back to his roots.