The main event of UFC 70 was supposed to be Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's showcase fight on national television.
Instead, he was on the wrong end of the head kick seen around the world.
Filipovic was a much ballyhooed arrival onto the UFC scene. The charismatic Croatian kickboxer served in his country's anti-terrorism paramilitary operation and is presently a member of the country's parliament. He arrived in the UFC at the peak of his career, coming off his finals victory over Josh Barnett in the PRIDE 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix.
After a win over Gonzaga on Spike TV, UFC officials were confident that a match between Filipovic and newly crowned heavyweight champion Randy Couture would be among the biggest matches of 2007.
But the fans who showed up for the April 21, 2007 card at the Manchester Evening News Arena in the United Kingdom saw Gonzaga ruin the company's best-laid plans with one big kick.
The little-known fighter from Brazil carried a 7-1 record into the match, winning each of his three previous UFC fights via finish. Filipovic, who may have taken his foe lightly, looked sluggish from the outset, as he was taken down and worked over for the bulk of the round.
"Cro Cop" appeared content to let the round wind down after a late stand-up, but Gonzaga struck with a bulls-eye of a head kick that knocked Filipovic cold. In addition to a concussion, Filipovic also injured his right knee in an awkward landing.
Filipovic lost his next fight, dropping a decision to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75, then parted ways with the company. He will return and face Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC 99 on June 13.
At least one big name wasn't surprised by Gonzaga's win: Couture, the color commentator at UFC 70, predicted "Cro Cop" would lose.
The card was the first UFC event held outside the United States since UFC 38 was held in London in 2002. A crowd of 15,114 paid a gate of $2,628,472 for the event, which was aired on tape delay in the U.S. on Spike TV. The biggest star to the fans on hand was Britain's Michael Bisping, who overcame getting rocked by a vicious knee to defeat veteran Elvis Sinosic via second-round TKO.
The win over Filipovic was the high point of the enigmatic Gonzaga's career. Gonzaga seems to have all the tools needed to become a legitimate contender, but he has also developed a reputation for wilting under pressure, as shown in subsequent losses to Couture and Febricio Werdrum. Gonzaga's progress appears stalled because he continues to train out of a small gym in Ludlow, MA, with no other elite fighters to push him.
Paul Taylor def. Edilberto de Oliveira, TKO, 0:37 R3
Jess Liaudin def. Dennis Siver, submission (armbar), 1:21 R1
Alessio Sakara def. Victor Valimako, TKO, 1:44 R1
Junior Assuncao def. David Lee, submission (ranked naked choke) 1:55 R2
Terry Etim def. Matt Grice, submission (guillotine choke), 4:38 R1
Cheick Kongo def. Assuerio Silva, majority decision
Lyoto Machida def. David Heath, unanimous decision
Michael Bisping def. Elvis Sinosic, TKO, 1:40 R2
Andrei Arlovski def. Fabricio Werdum, unanimous decision
Gabriel Gonzaga def. Mirko Cro Cop, KO, 4:51 R1