Cro Cop needed a gift decision in the first round, the easiest path to the final and a severe foot injury for Badr Hari but he won his first K-1 World Grand Prix last night in Croatia.
The event was a typical FEG trainwreck featuring bad judging, commentators unaware of the schedule, out of place dance groups, technical issues and the order-altering disappearance of alternate Dževad Poturak. The card was a $20 internet pay-per-view though paying customers were directed to a laggy, public YouTube stream which went out before the semifinals only to return two fights later.
Mirko started by getting bossed around the ring by young American Jarrell Miller and then still somehow being awarded a unanimous decision, though he did deserve his decision in the semifinals against Pavel Zhuravlev.
His final match was against Ismael Londt, who the commentators first termed “big Manhoef” before eventually settling for just calling him “Manhoef.” Cro Cop controlled the pace and avoided the jumping knees Londt used to break Hesdy Gerges’ nose, eventually knocking him down with a left high kick in the second round and winning a fair decision.
Badr Hari was in the field, having been released from Dutch prison only a couple months ago while he awaits trial for attempted manslaughter for beating the shit out of a nightclub owner. He replaced an injured Ben Edwards in the quarterfinals and pieced a game Zabit Samedov before dropping out with a broken foot.
Perhaps the worst part of the “2012 Final” last night was K-1 announcing plans to circle the drain for a full 2013 season. Glory controls the best heavyweights in the sport including current K-1 Super Heavyweight Champion Semmy Schilt and unlike K-1, they have a record for paying their fighters.
Despite all of the weirdness, it was the K-1 World Grand Prix and in the tradition of Schilt, Aerts and Hoost, 38-year-old Cro Cop can call it a career with his very first K-1 gold. Silver linings, man. They’re everywhere.