It’s 2016 and Mirko Cro Cop is still winning tournaments in Japan.
The MMA legend finished Amir Aliakbari by first-round knockout in the finals of the Rizin 2016 Openweight World Grand Prix on Saturday at Saitama Super Arena.
Cro Cop landed a beautiful straight left to drop Aliakbari, the former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion, and followed up with another big left before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Mirko Cro Cop takes the RIZIN Openweight GP Title pic.twitter.com/hxboNF74nM
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) December 31, 2016
“This is a special one for me, 10 years later after winning Pride grand prix,” Cro Cop said on the microphone afterward. … “I can’t explain it and I can’t explain how happy and proud I am.”
Cro Cop (35-11-2, 1 NC) was granted his release from the UFC earlier this year after being handed a two-year suspension by USADA, the promotion’s anti-doping partner. In November 2015, Cro Cop admitted use of growth hormone to treat a shoulder injury before a bout. USADA pulled him from the fight for usage of a banned substance and handed down the suspension thereafter.
Since he could not fight for the UFC for two years, the 42-year-old asked for his release and the UFC gave it to him. He is still allowed to compete for promotions not under a USADA anti-doping program.
Cro Cop won the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix in 2006 with a first-round finish over Josh Barnett. Rizin founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara was the former Pride president.
Aliakbari (5-1) came in as a top prospect, just about two years into his MMA career after starring as a Greco-Roman wrestler. He won the Greco world championship twice, but one was removed due to a failed drug test.
In the semifinals of the grand prix, Cro Cop defeated Baruto early in the first round with a vicious knee to the body from the clinch. The Croatian star defeated Muhammad Lawal in the quarterfinals Thursday. Aliakbari won a decision against Valentin Moldavsky in the semifinals and beat Heath Herring by decision on the first night.
In the co-main event, Kron Gracie pulled off a big upset over Tatsuya Kawajiri, who was just one fight removed from a barnburner against Cub Swanson in the UFC.
Gracie worked Kawajiri over with dirty boxing in the first round and nearly finished with an armbar. It was another submission — a rear-naked choke — that got Kawajiri in the second round. Gracie pulled guard early in the ground, out grappled Kawajiri and eventually got to the back where he finished.
The 28-year-old Gracie (4-0), the son of legendary Rickson Gracie and training partner of the Diaz brothers, has now won three straight under the Rizin banner. Kawajiri (35-11-2) fell to Swanson in August and then asked for his UFC release, which was granted. “Crusher,” a Japanese MMA stalwart, has now lost three straight at age 38.
Hideo Tokoro handed the Yamamoto family its second loss by armbar of the night. The MMA veteran finished Erson Yamamoto with the submission early in the first round. Tokoro (35-29-2) called out Yamamoto’s uncle, Kid Yamanoto, afterward. Earlier on the card, Erson Yamamoto’s mother Miyu was submitted via armbar in the first round by Andy Nguyen of the United States.
Burgeoning Rizin star Rena Kubota finished Hanna “Tyson” Gujwan with a liver kick knockout in the third round right after the intermission. Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Gabi Garcia, known for her size and ground skill, defeated 49-year-old pro wrestler Yumiko Hotta by first-round TKO.
Earlier on the card, Kizaemon Saiga defeated Dillin West by first-round TKO, Hayato Sakurai beat Wataru Sakata by second-round TKO, and 18-year-old super prospect Tension Nasukawa beat Dylan Kawika Oligo by second-round submission. Nasukawa was fighting for the second time in three nights.
Source:: mma fighting