Video: Relive Mirko Cro Cop’s epic 2006 PRIDE grand prix run before joining UFC

Even more than 15 years later, Mirko Cro Cop’s run under the now-defunct PRIDE FC banner in 2006 stands as one of the all-time great calendar years in MMA history.

Cro Cop (38-11-2), who is one of the all-time great heavyweights to compete in the sport, closed his memorable tenure with the Japan-based PRIDE organization with a memorable four-fight streak – all in just over a five-month stretch.

The Croatian kickboxing specialist tore through Ikukisa Minowa, Hidehiko Yoshida, Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett – the latter two of which he beat on the same night – to capture the 2006 PRIDE open weight grand prix tournament crown, which prompted a move to the UFC.

Cro Cop’s future after that point, which included multiple UFC stints, a return to Japan to fight for DREAM and Rizin, as well as a one-fight stop on Bellator, featured mixed results. He ultimately retired from combat sports in March 2019 due to health issues.

The 2006 run was among the best single-year stretches the sport has ever seen, and the UFC did its best to acknowledge that by releasing a “Year of the Fighter” special highlighting all of Cro Cop’s epic performances.

Check out the video above to see all his memorable moments from that time.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie