We are a few weeks out from Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic scoring his K-1 World Grand Prix victory, winning three fights in one night and finally winning the "big one" after all of those years. Mirko Cro Cop has had a legendary career with battles with some of the biggest names in all of combat sports and an impressive resume over the span of two sports; MMA and Kickboxing. This World Grand Prix win was a big deal for Cro Cop as well as fans of his around the world, but many see it as a tainted victory.
In the Quarterfinal round Cro Cop faced off against America's Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller and the two had quite a war, with Miller dominating most of the fight, dictating where the fight took place and landing some truly devastating knees and punches from the clinch. The decision has been a topic of conversation since it happened, many deeming it to be a robbery and that Miller rightfully won the bout. Some of the Cro Cop faithful are willing to stick their necks out and say that Cro Cop won the fight, but the overwhelming opinion is that Cro Cop stole the victory and that it was handed to him by a hometown crowd, hometown judges or even having his manager and team as the promoters of the event.
There is no proof of foul play anywhere, but the circumstances are interesting, to say the least. On FightSite.hr (also a property of Fight Channel, which is owned and operated by Orsat Zovko, Cro Cop's manager) they posted an interview with one of the judges from the event, Mladen Kranjcec, who shared his thoughts on the event, the fight and how the judges rendered the decision for Mirko Cro Cop. He notes that there was another Croatian judge for the fights, Zvonko Rukavina, because the organizers felt that they needed Croatian judges.
While I'm not going to post a Google Translation on here, when asked the question as to the bout with Miller and the controversy around it, his explanation was that Miller was breaking the rules by throwing so many strikes from the clinch, which hindered Cro Cop from being able to fight the fight his way, and that the referee was at fault for not properly enforcing the rules. So the judges took it upon themselves to instead enforce those rules. He then commended Ismael Londt for not crying foul when Mirko Cro Cop went for a grounded strike after he knocked Londt down, or for "acting" like he got hit by it.
The problem here is that the basic logic is heavily flawed. In combat sports it is the referee's job to enforce the rules and the promoter and commission's job to ensure that the rules are clear and being enforced during the fights. It is not a judge's job to interpret the rules for themselves and to discount significant action because they believe it to not be legal. In boxing if a referee misses an intentional headbutt followed by a barrage of strikes the judges do not discount the strikes that follow the headbutt because they have a better understanding of the rules than the referee, they are forced to score the bout as it goes down and leave the rules to the official inside of the ring.
This logic is clearly heavily flawed and while it might clear up some of the controversy surrounding Mirko Cro Cop's K-1 WGP victory, these decisions made by officials will continue to mar what was a big night in Cro Cop's career.