In an unexpected move the UFC has announced that Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic will be coming back for a second stint in the promotion after signing a multi-fight deal.
Cro Cop’s first spell in the Octagon was a disappointment as he failed to capture the form that had made him a superstar in the PRIDE organization in Japan.
The Croatian was released from the UFC in 2011 after suffering a three-fight losing streak – all by either TKO or KO – leaving him with an overall 3-4 record in the promotion.
After that Cro Cop returned to his kickboxing roots and has had better success their, compiling a 7-1 record and even managed to win the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2012, though the competition was weaker that year.
He’s also kept a foot in the door in MMA circles, going 3-1 including his most recent back-to-back TKO victories against Satoshi Ishii.
Nevertheless, it’s still a bit of a surprise that the UFC would reach out to the 40 year-old, though in fairness they did also bring Andrei Arlovski back last year and he now resides at No.7 in the heavyweight rankings which perhaps gives an indication of how limited the division is at this moment in time.
Perhaps the real reason the UFC have suddenly swooped for Cro Cop is that Bellator CEO Scott Coker stated last week that he was interested in the star.
The rumor is that Bellator were close to signing him before the UFC made a late bid to bring him back to the Octagon. The promotion also recently weakened their rivals when they brought back Bellator heavyweight tournament winner Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, while lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez also jumped ship to the UFC last year.
While the UFC won’t admit it publicly, it’s clear that they do view Bellator as a threat, particularly now that Coker is at the helm and has shaken things up by moving away from the promotion’s previous weekly events to doing stacked monthly ones instead.
With the ink still drying on the deal there’s no indication yet of who Cro Cop will face for his return fight in the Octagon.