Although former PrideFC superstar and UFC fallout Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic had already announced his intentions of returning to the Octagon at UFC 99, today, the UFC officially confirmed Cro Cop’s highly-anticipated return to the world’s premier MMA organization.
“I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division,” Cro Cop stated a couple of weeks back. “My next opponent will be Mustapha Al-Turk.”
UFC.com confirmed the Croatian’s participation in the card, and for the first time they will host six televised bouts for UFC 99’s pay-per-view event, as opposed to the customary five bouts.
At 24-6-2, Cro Cop has long been considered one of the best ever to strap on MMA gloves after he ran through the 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Tourney like a freight train.
He parlayed that hoopla into a fat UFC contract, but he was not the fighter that mixed martial arts fans had grown to appreciate. The Croatian ended up beating Eddie Sanchez in his Octagon debut, however posted disappointing L’s against Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheik Kongo after that. He was then sent packing, amicably of course.
Word on the street was that CC requested for UFC president Dana White to grant him an early release from his contract to hone his skills overseas, with the intent on one day returning to accomplish what he had set out to do the first time around.
White, who wasn’t born yesterday, quickly obliged as it let them off the hook for Cro Cop’s monster contract.
“I would really like to fight at least three times this year,” Cro Cop stated. “I wish to fight against quality opponents and to fight my way up to a title shot, but for now I’ll focus only on my next fight and after that we’ll see what’s going to be on the menu next.”
After leaving the UFC in September of 2007, he signed with the popular Japanese MMA promotion Dream. He has posted two vintage Cro Cop TKO’s, and a No Contest against Alistair Overeem, a bout which Overeem was thoroughly dominating before he decided to check if Cro Cop was wearing a cup or not … on multiple occasions.
It will be intriguing to see which Cro Cop emerges in his return. Will it be the fighter that proved to be one of MMA’s deadliest strikers, or the slow and uninspired one that showed up inside the Octagon the first time around?