Biggest Non-UFC Fights: Wanderlei Silva vs. Mirko Cro Cop

On September 10, 2006, Wanderlei Silva and Cro Cop met each other in the semi-finals of Pride Final Conflict Absolute which was a tournament held over several months beginning in May of 2006. The bout between these two fighters was a rematch of a 2002 contest in which the two heavyweights fought to a draw.

Wanderlei Silva came into the fight considered to be one of the top heavyweights of all time. He was well known for his fierce nature inside the ring and won many of his fights via knockout and submission due to punches.

Meanwhile, Cro Cop had been a dominant kick-boxer and had a reputation for his precision striking ability and a deadly high leg kick with which he often finished his opponents. Despite Cro Cop’s success in kick-boxing circuits, he had not been able to win a major title since joining Pride, though he had come close on several occasions in the past.

This bout was highly anticipated as it featured two great strikers who appeared to have some bad blood remaining from their initial fight four years prior. Silva came into the match overweight for his cohort at two hundred twenty five pounds and seemed pumped for the bout. Cro Cop entered the ring with a calm demeanor and stoic look on his face.

When the bell sounded, Silva came out swinging aggressively, but Cro Cop was able to counter and eventually get Silva down and begin landing hammer fists. At one point, the ref stopped the fight to check on Silva, who now had a badly swollen eye and a bloodied noise. The fight looked as though it could have been stopped. However, the ref let the two fighters continue.

About five minutes in, Silva was swinging wildly at Cro Cop who was still able to counter with more precision. Then Wanderlei was caught by a blow to the body as he circled away from Cro Cop and this set up Cro Cop’s “kick of doom.”  Cro Cop nailed Silva with his shin cracking off Wanderlei’s head and sending Wanderlei into next week. This was one of the greatest knockouts in MMA history.

Cro Cop would go on to win the tournament for his first championship since joining Pride. The victory solidified Cro Cop’s reputation as one of the top heavyweights in MMA history. On the other hand, this loss seemed to be the beginning of a downward spiral for Wanderlei Silva as he never seemed able to return to his once dominant form of the past.

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