Mirko Cro Cop is advancing to the Rizin FF 2016 openweight Grand Prix tournament semifinals.
The Croatian fighter landed a series of hard uppercuts to put away Bellator’s Muhammed Lawal in the main event of Thursday’s Round 2 of Rizin FF Grand Prix in Saitama, Japan.
The fight began with a leg kick from Cro Cop that was caught by King Mo and turned into a takedown. From top position, and inside of Cro Cop’s guard, King Mo would land ground-and-pound and control the veteran. The referee would eventually stop the fight and get it back on the feet where both fighters had good moments for the remaining of the first round.
Entering the second, and likely down in the judges’ eyes, Cro Cop stepped up his takedown defense to keep the fight on the feet. The 42-year-old heavyweight landed a couple of shots that seemed to stun King Mo, but did not come close to putting him away. In one of King Mo’s takedown attempts, Cro Cop defended well, cornered the Bellator fighter, and unleashed a couple of uppercuts that would send King Mo straight to the canvas. Cro Cop then followed up with some ground-and-pound to get the referee to intervene and call an end to the fight.
Also in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix, former Pride FC and UFC heavyweight Heath Herring lost a unanimous decision to wrestling standout Amir Aliakbari. Aliakbari would dominate Herring completely in the first round, using his wrestling and heavy ground-and-pound. Round two was a different story, as Herring was able to defend the takedowns and hurt Aliakbari on the feet. Regardless, the judges thought Aliakbari did enough to award him a unanimous decision victory.
In the other two tournament bouts, Valentin Moldavsky and Baruto Kaito defeated their respective opponents to advance to the semifinals, while Vadim Nemkov won the Grand Prix reserve fight, defeating Alison Vicente via first-round knockout.
Now, Cro Cop is set to face Baruto, and Moldavsky is set to fight Aliakbari in the final round of the tournament on Dec. 31.
Outside of the Grand Prix, Japanese superstar and women’s veteran fighter Rin Nakai improved her professional record to 18-2-1.
The 30-year-old fighter battled Kanako Murata in a bout that had very little action. In rounds one and two, Murata would attempt to takedown Nakai but found no success, while Nakai would get the better of the striking exchanges. In round three, Nakai was able to secure a takedown, get Murata’s back, and sink in a rear-naked choke to end the fight. Nakai is now 3-0 since her UFC release earlier this year.
In a classic grappler vs. striker match up, 40-year-old Kazuyuki Miyata submitted kickboxer Andy Souwer. Miyata took down Souwer early in the fight an unleashed a chain of submissions on Souwer. To Souwer’s credit, he was able to defend several submissions before falling to Miyata’s arm bar.
The Japanese fighter is now 14-9 in MMA, and bounced back from his loss to Hinata Watanabe at Day One of Rizin FF 2015 Grand Prix.
It was a fight that started even with both guys wobbling each other on the feet. However, a spinning back fist from Cruickshank changed the momentum of the fight, and the American began putting a beating on Kitaoka, making his face a bloody mess. Towards the end of the round, Kitaoka was able to land a takedown on Cruickshank, lock in a guillotine choke, and put ‘The Detroit Superstar’ to sleep. The veteran Kitaoka is now 40-14-9 as a professional MMA fighter.
Also worth noting, TUF 24 contestant Kai Kara-France lost a unanimous decision to Japan’s Tatsumitsu Wada.