Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 | 10:07 p.m.
Frank Mir spent the first 14 minutes of his heavyweight fight against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic Saturday in Indianapolis lulling his opponent to sleep.
With 58 seconds remaining in the fight, he finished the job.
In one of the more stunning finishes recently in the UFC, Mir (14-5) caught Filipovic (27-8-2) with a knee that knocked the Croatian striker out cold in the final minute of the fight.
The dramatic finish was surprising, considering the UFC 119 main event had been mired in boos up to that point.
Both fighters struggled to find their rhythm throughout the fight and were separated repeatedly by referee Herb Dean after long clinches against the fence.
Following the knockout, Mir said the fight’s slower moments weren’t due to any lack of effort on his part — Filipovic simply did a terrific job of neutralizing his offense.
“I was trying to do well, but Mirko is dangerous,” Mir said. “He was loading up with the left hand when I came in.
“My strategy was to take him down. I had a hard time against the cage. My wrestling needs to improve and his takedown defense is good.”
It was a much-needed win for Mir, who had dropped two of his last three fights, including a first-round knockout loss to Shane Carwin in March.
The Las Vegas native had contemplated cutting to the 205-pound division following that loss but ended up sticking with his natural weight class.
The loss is Filipovic’s second in his last four fights and drops him to a 3-2 record since joining the UFC organization in 2009.
The 36-year-old fighter was very open prior to the fight about his future, stating that any serious injury at this point would likely mark the end of his career.
Filipovic had taken Saturday’s fight on short notice for the injured Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
In the co-main event, light heavyweight Ryan Bader did enough to score a unanimous decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
The most definitive moment of the fight came in the first round, when Bader (12-0) took Nogueira (19-4) down against the fence and landed a few unanswered shots from top position.
Other than that, it was a somewhat difficult fight to score. A former collegiate wrestler, Bader looked to dictate where the action went but had a difficult time taking Nogueira down.
Even when he did, he admitted he was hesitant to follow him there.
“I didn’t want to engage too much and play the jiu-jitsu game with him,” Bader said. “I wanted to take him down, get those explosive shots in and get out. That’s what I did.”
Winner of the eighth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series, Bader will now likely get a shot against an even bigger-name opponent in the near future.
Prior to Saturday’s bout, it was rumored the winner would face 23-year-old phenom Jon Jones.