Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic spent years kicking K-1 and Pride opponents in the head, but somewhere along the way his own head came undone.
“Well, to tell the truth, its hard to say 100-percent, what was the struggle for my first appearance in the UFC, my first three fights,” Filipovic said during Tuesday’s UFC 99 conference call. “To tell the truth, I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t adapted for the fight in the cage. Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough. I don’t know, I don’t know.”
The 2006 Pride Grand Prix champion arrived in the UFC Octagon in 2007, posted a 1-2 record, and was released to pursue other opportunities. Fight fans were left wondering what happened to the fearsome Croat kickboxer and where he would end up. “Cro Cop” returned to Japan, fighting three times for Dream and K-1 but did little to convince observers that he had returned to form.
Having hinted at a return to the UFC almost since the moment he was released, Filipovic recently announced that he would fight again at UFC 99. But the deal was far from done and even further from business as usual for the UFC.
Filipovic signed a one-fight contract to fight Brit Mustapha Al-Turk in Cologne, Germany, a one-of-a-kind deal in Dana White’s nine-years as a promoter—a verbal contract signed over the phone. What comes after UFC 99 is still up in the air.
“Mirko and I working on that still,” said White. “Listen, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ ended up on this card like last minute. Within weeks before the event, and this whole deal was done verbally over the phone with me and him.”
“Cro Cop” is confident that defeating Al-Turk would help to erase his failed Filipovic calls his first UFC run a “black spot in my career and in my life,” and is confident that he’ll make the most of this second chance.
“Today, those [UFC losses] are behind me. I have maybe the strongest and the best motivation,” said Crocop. “I want to return to the top. I just want to prove [to] everyone that they were wrong. They were wrong, you know.”