If Saturday did indeed mark the end of Mirko Cro Cop's iconic fighting career, it was only fitting he left with his hands stretched upward in victory one final time.
Cro Cop defeated fellow K-1 legend Ray Sefo via unanimous decision at the main event of "Final Fight," held at the Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. The Croatian kickboxing and mixed martial arts legend, who had not competed inside his native country in over a decade, was received by thunderous applause throughout the night.
After retiring from MMA on the heels of three devastating knockout losses, many feared for Filipovic's safety against the heavy-handed Sefo. The public hand-wringing proved unnecessary, however, as Cro Cop landed solidly with combinations at various stages of the opening frame and appeared unfazed by Sefo's power shots.
Filipovic carried that confidence into the second, turning the tide with a steady parade of sharp uppercuts and clinch strikes. Though action ultimately slowed in the final round, and the referee was repeatedly forced to intervene and separate the two fading fighters.
Following the decision, Cro Cop took center stage and bid farewell to the emotional crowd. Afterward, Sefo paid his own respects on the mic.
"Mirko, I don't even know why this guy wants to retire, because after his performance tonight he should keep fighting. I want everybody to understand that," Sefo declared. "Mirko Cro Cop is the number-one fighter to ever have come out of Croatia. Not only is he a living legend in kickboxing and K-1, he's a living legend in MMA. So you guys are very lucky to have such a great hero like him, and he's very lucky to have great people like you guys."
In the night's co-main event, It's Showtime world heavyweight champion Daniel Ghita pulverized Sergei Laschenko's lower torso for much of the opening two frames, before finding his mark with a monstrous head kick midway through the third round. Laschenko quickly darted back to his feet, but with two knockdowns already in the books, the referee stepped in to call the fight, declaring Ghita the winner via TKO.
Full "Final Fight" results can be seen below.
Mirko Cro Cop def. Ray Sefo via unanimous decision
Daniel Ghita def. Sergei Laschenko via TKO (Head Kick) in Round 3
Igor Jurkovic def. Freddy Kemayo via majority decision
Mladen Brestovac def. Mourad Bouzidi via TKO (Head Kick) in Round 1
Mladen Kujundzic def. Marin Dosen via decision
Agron Preteni def. Guy Pacome Assi via majority decision
Michael Duut def. Stefan Jelic via unanimous decision
Sahak Parparyan def. Toni Milanovic via decision
Miran Fabjan def. Ivan Posavec via unanimous decision