Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will return to the octagon this Saturday at UFC 99 in Germany for the first time since leaving the UFC back in 2007 following consecutive losses to Cheick Kongo and Gabriel Gonzaga. Mustapha Al-Turk will be the first challenge in what Cro Cop hopes will be a successful run to the UFC heavyweight title.
Filipovic came to the UFC a couple years back after developing somewhat of a mythical status during his time in Pride. UFC glory was not in the cards for Cro Cop at that time, but he has a feeling that things will be different this go-around.
“Last time, I had injuries – old injuries from Pride – which prevented me from fighting to the best of my abilities,” Filipovic recently told The U.K. Sun. “But most of all I felt like I had given everything of myself in my fights in Pride. I felt tired, I was empty inside and I should have taken a longer rest before coming into the UFC. I think maybe I came into the UFC too early. I should have waited for my injuries to heal and to take a break for myself before coming in. But I am 100% healed now, am in much better shape, and that’s why I have come back to the UFC.”
Despite an unsuccessful first trip to the octagon, Cro Cop hasn’t lost the faith or the passion; to one day capture the sport’s most coveted title.
“I never lost touch with [UFC president] Dana White, we would talk every now and then, but recently I told him my injuries were completely healed and I was ready to come back to the UFC.”
Standing first in his way will be British slugger Mustapha Al-Turk, whom Crop Cop admittedly knows little about, but knows enough to not take him lightly.
“I don’t know too much about Al-Turk. I have seen a couple of his fights and he looks like a good fighter. I am sure he will be in great shape and look to make a name for himself.”
Should Cro Cop gain his first win in the UFC since his debut in early 2007, he’ll have his eyes set on one thing only, and that is UFC gold.
“I will fight this fight first and then sit down with Dana to talk about the future. I can tell my fans and UFC fans, I don’t know if I will win the UFC heavyweight Title, but I will give absolutely everything trying to get that belt. I am coming back to earn my shot at the UFC title.”