The second round of the 16-man Rizin Open Weight Grand Prix 2016 ended in an upset. MMA legend Mirko Filipovic added another remarkable win to his lengthy resume when he stopped Muhammed Lawal by second-round TKO for arguably his most significant victory in several years.
“Cro Cop” (33-11-2) managed to thwart several of Lawal’s (20-6) takedown attempts and picked up a head of steam in the striking department before an uppercut landed midway through the second round that dropped “King Mo” and led to the surprising stoppage in the headlining bout of the online-streamed event at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Although he won, Filipovic was forced to overcome some adversity when Lawal scored a big takedown less than 30 seconds into the fight. He spent more than half the round in top control before the referee decided to stand the fight up, and that’s when Filipovic started to unleash his patented kicks.
With confidence and momentum on his second heading into the second round, Filipovic abandoned his kicks and threw only striking combinations. Lawal pushed forward with several takedown attempts, but Filipovic stopped them all and attacked. He threw a multi-strike combination, one of which dropped Lawal, then finished the job with more shots on the ground.
“Cro Cop” will fight “Baruto” in the semifinal round on Day 2 of the Rizin Open Weight Grand Prix 2016 this Saturday (1 a.m. ET). Lawal, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat.
“Everyone give a round of applause to the fighters that made it to the semifinals,” Lawal said. ” (They have) good hearts, good game plans and they came to win. And to ‘Cro Cop,’ maybe next year if they have a tournament again we can have a rematch.”