The following is an article from today's Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Filipovic starts rise to power in UFC
By KEVIN IOLE
Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic's hand is raised in victory after Filipovic stopped previously undefeated Eddie Sanchez in the first round of their UFC bout Saturday.
Photos by Jane Kalinowsky.
Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic, top, punches Eddie Sanchez in the head during the first round of their UFC fight Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Filipovic, a former star of the rival Pride Fighting Championship who was making his UFC debut, stopped Sanchez at 4:33 of the first round.
Rampage Jackson, left, tangles with former UNLV football player Marvin Eastman during their Ultimate Fighting Championship bout Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Jackson, making his UFC debut, stopped Eastman at 3:49 of the second round.
Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic had the near-sellout crowd in a near frenzy before he ever threw a punch or kick Saturday.
Just the thought of seeing Filipovic's vaunted power had the crowd of 10,787 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the verge of delirium.
And while there wasn't the highlight-reel ending that Filipovic — who prefers to be known simply as Mirko CroCop — has become known for in his lengthy mixed martial arts career, he still delivered in style in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut.
He stopped Eddie Sanchez at 4:33 of the first round after spending most of the round relentlessly stalking the young and previously unbeaten San Diegan.
Filipovic, a member of the Croatian parliament who made his reputation in the rival Pride Fighting Championship and walked to the ring Saturday to Pride's theme music, hurt Sanchez with a high left kick to the top of the head.
It was a move that Filipovic has used repeatedly to end fights, including his last Pride bout in September against Wanderlei Silva.
It didn't land as flush, but Sanchez staggered back to the cage.
Filipovic jumped on him, landed two hard straight lefts and Sanchez crumpled to the canvas.
Filipovic then landed a series of punches to the head before referee Steve Mazzaggati halted it.
“Every kick he threw rocked him,” Mazzaggati said. “Even the ones to the body.”
The stoic Filipovic, who earned a guaranteed $350,000, had little to say about his win. He found it difficult to produce the kind of ending he wanted because Sanchez circled and wasn't prepared to test his power.
“It surprised me and it frustrated me because he was running all the way,” Filipovic said. “But it's part of the game.”
Sanchez tried to counter Filipovic occasionally but never planted his feet and fired. As a result, his punches didn't have much impact and Filipovic simply walked through them.
The result seemed inevitable, and the only question was how and when it would end.
Before the bout, the crowd went wild when, on an interview on the large video screens around the arena, Filipovic said, “With the right kicks, they go to the hospital. With the left, they go to the cemetery.”
Sanchez was never in that much peril, but one of the kicks Filipovic landed was audible more than 25 feet away, producing a loud “thwack.”
Filipovic said he would leave his opponents up to UFC management, though he is expected to meet the winner of the March 3 title fight between Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture in the summer.
In the nominal main event, Anderson Silva won by tapout over Travis Lutter because of punches to the head at 2:11 of the second round.
Lutter failed to make the 185-pound middleweight limit at Friday's weigh-in. He weighed 187 on his first attempt. After two hours, he came back and weighed 186 1/2.
The bout then was changed to a nontitle affair and Lutter was fined 10 percent of his purse.
Silva and UFC president Dana White were both irate at the failure and Silva called it disrespectful.
Lutter took Silva down in the first round and nearly got a ground-and-pound stoppage. But Silva, a Muay Thai specialist who also has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, managed to regain his feet.
Silva took Lutter down in the second and snapped a triangle choke with his legs on him. As they were on the ground, Silva was elbowing and punching Lutter and appeared to injure Lutter's eye.
After getting pummeled for nearly 40 seconds, Lutter, who had been booed by the crowd throughout, submitted.
“I was disappointed that it wasn't (a title fight), but that made me fight harder,” an emotional Silva shouted.