This weekend at GLORY 14 Zagreb two legends will once again face off in a Kickboxing ring under very familiar terms one last time. The new generation of Heavyweight Kickboxers has helped to define the young GLORY organization, fighters like Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita and Rico Verhoeven, yet the old dogs are still huge attractions for longtime fans. There is no doubt why they are still popular with longtime fans, as you can look no further than Peter Aerts and the few fights that he’s held under the GLORY banner, with them being some of the most exciting fights in the company’s short history.
For us Kickboxing fans nostalgia still runs deep.
I’ve heard some complaints about the fight between Mirko Cro Cop and Remy Bonjasky since the fight was announced a few months ago. The complaints tend to be that there is a new generation of Heavyweights that deserve the spotlight, that both Cro Cop and Bonjasky had their time in the spotlight, that it is time to move on. I don’t disagree with that, yet the fight between Bonjasky and Cro Cop is still appealing, with GLORY handling the whole affair tastefully. We already know that Remy Bonjasky has plans to retire shortly and Cro Cop might not have a lot of fight left in him, but that is what this fight represents. GLORY isn’t trying to shoehorn either man into the already-crowded title picture, instead both men are fighting each other in a rematch that fans have been waiting to see for over 12 years now.
Mirko Cro Cop’s original K-1 run was short-lived and saw him never able to claim the grandest prize of them all, the K-1 World Grand Prix. Cro Cop moved on to what he saw was greener pastures of Mixed Martial Arts, which was picking up steam in Japan at the time, with the rest becoming history. Cro Cop finally made a brief return to K-1 last year to work his way through the K-1 World Grand Prix, finally winning the prize that had eluded him for all of those years, but it still felt a bit hollow without top contenders like Saki, Ghita and Verhoeven involved.
Bonjasky, on the other hand, was only getting his storied K-1 career started by the time he met Cro Cop in the ring in 2002. It was a tough loss at the time, but Cro Cop would only fight one more time under the K-1 banner before he moved to MMA full time, leaving the field wide open. Remy Bonjasky went on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix three times, cementing himself as one of the all-time greats in the sport of Kickboxing. It was something that Mirko Cro Cop was never able to attain, even having beaten Bonjasky on his way out the door.
The clash between Remy Bonjasky and Mirko Cro Cop at GLORY 14 Zagreb is a battle of what could have been and honestly should have been. The fans never got to see what Mirko Cro Cop could have done if he stuck around Kickboxing for a few years longer, which would have definitely included more epic battles with the likes of Bonjasky, Aerts, Schilt and Badr Hari. At least at GLORY 14 Zagreb we get a taste of that. Sure, both men have aged and might not be the same fighters that they were in 2002, but they are the same men with the same drive and ambition to always fight their hearts out. I, for one, am looking forward to this clash.