Mirko Cro Cop

Cro Cop Out of DREAM 5


Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

An official statement was posted in regards to Mirko Cro Cop not being able to compete against Jerome LeBanner on July 21st:

Hello everyone,

Unfortunately I have some bad news I won’t be fighting at DREAM 5 at all. I was about to face Jerome LeBanner but he decided to fight in K1 against Schilt. Mighty Mo was the alternative and I accepted this challenge, but unfortunately Mighty Mo pulled off from the fight. I was ready to face Mo, but maybe this scenario wasn’t that bad for me at all and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been having problems with my right elbow for years and the injury got even worse over last 6 months. I’m already receiving a proper treatment but the recovery won’t happen over night. The second problem is a knee injury, something that troubles me for quite a while. I had difficulties using my kicks and over last few weeks I focused more on boxing and grappling. I really wanted to fight on July 21 and I was even ignoring doctor’s suggestions, but now I’ve rached the point from which I can’t continue with my normal training regiment due to my injuries.

I was willing to accept the risk of fighting Mo or someone else without being 100% ready fo the fight. I had only one fight this year, I miss big fights and top level competition. I’m eager to get back to the big stage, I still have good fights left in me and I won’t give up. I’m not happy with this outcome of course, but at this moment I need to be patient and give some time for my body to recover.

I’m scheduled for arthroscopy tomorrow morning, it’s a minor surgical procedure but it will keep me away from MMA trainings for 2-3 weeks probably. From Wednesday I’ll focus on my new cardio training program and we’ll add MMA elements to my training regiment as soon as my knee will be ready for action.

My goal is to become the first heavyweight champion in DREAM and to do that I need to be ready to fight on September 23. I’m not interested in summer time, vacations or things like that; I’ll focus on getting back to shape and hopefully I’ll fight in September. I would really like to fight Alistair Overeem, we all know why and I won’t let it go. My career is far from being over, I’ll be fighting some strong competitors soon again and hopefully I’ll meet Fedor in the ring once more in 2009.

Thank you for supporting me and I’ll get back to you all soon to keep you updated.

Gracie Added as DREAM.4 Injury Replacement


Ralek Gracie grapples with Katsuyori Shibata. Photo courtesy of FEG.

Ralek Gracie, who was originally slated to take on former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in a modified-rules grappling match at this weekend’s DREAM.4 event in Japan, will now serve as a last-minute replacement opponent for Pancrase veteran Alavutdin Gadzhiyev.

DREAM officially announced the change at a press conference yesterday.

Gracie has not competed since submitting Katsuyori Shibata at a K-1 Hero’s show last July. Filipovic was forced to withdraw from the grappling match after aggravating an elbow injury during a recent training session.

The cancellation likely comes as a precaution for Filipovic’s scheduled showdown against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s scheduled July 21st show in Japan. It’s been widely speculated that the Croatian had suffered multiple nagging injuries over the last few months and now wants to time to heal them before the LeBanner bout.

Sporting a current record of 7-1, Gadzhiyev hasn’t lost a fight since dropping a decision to Sergey Burdalenko in his first career bout. Gadzhiyev has spent the last year or so under the Pancrase banner, most recently knocking out colorful veteran Hikaru Sato in March.

Gadzhiyev was originally matched up against IFL light heavyweight Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira, who was unable to compete at this weekend’s event due to visa issues.

Report: Cro Cop Injured; Out of Gracie Match


Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has reportedly withdrawn from his upcoming grappling match against Ralek Gracie at DREAM’s June 15th affair after aggravating an elbow injury during a recent training session.

The news comes from a report by Croatian news site Dnevnik.

The cancellation likely comes as a precaution for Cro Cop’s slated showdown against fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s scheduled July 21st show in Japan. It’s been widely speculated that the Croatian had suffered multiple nagging injuries over the last few months and now wants to time to heal them before the LeBanner bout.

He and Gracie were being advertised as competing in a modified rules grappling match, which would have gone on without a scoring system, meaning that if either fighter was unable to submit the other, the match would end in a draw.

Cro Cop most recently stopped Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno with strikes in the first round at DREAM’s inaugural show back in March. Meanwhile, Gracie has not competed since submitting Katsuyori Shibata at a K-1 Hero’s show last July.

HT: Sherdog

Report: Cro Cop-LeBanner Set for June


Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight title contender Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will reportedly take on fellow former K-1 kickboxer Jerome LeBanner at DREAM’s planned fourth show on June 16th in Japan.

The news comes from MMA-ID, the same website that hosts Cro Cop’s official blog.

The Croatian was victorious at DREAM’s inaugural event last month, stopping Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno with strikes less than a minute into the first round. The fight will be Cro Cop’s second since going 1-2 in an unsuccessful stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Croatian is currently on a hiatus from competing in the promotion. UFC President Dana White has stated that he believes Cro Cop will be returning before the end of the year.

LeBanner has not fought since knocking out journeyman Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s event in March 2006. LeBanner is 3-1-1 thus far in his professional mixed martial arts career and also owns wins over Bob Sapp and Yoshihiro Akiyama.

HT: Five Ounces of Pain

Cro Cop Victorious; Aoki Injured in No Contest


Mirko Cro Cop is introduced before his bout against Josh Barnett at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute 2006. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

SAITAMA - Returning to one of his favorite venues, Mirko Cro Cop made it look easy tonight. The cool but lethal Croatian mixed martial arts superstar required a mere 56 seconds to dispatch Tatsuya Mizuno by KO at the DREAM.1 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 1st Round.

Held before a sellout crowd at the Saitama Super Arena—with millions of Japanese television viewers watching live—DREAM.1 featured seven qualification bouts in the DREAM Lightweight (70 kg/154 lbs) class, along with a trio of open-weight fights. This was the inaugural DREAM production—but such is the talent on tap that fans have already dubbed DREAM one of the world’s finest mixed martial arts productions.

All bouts were fought under Official DREAM mixed martial arts rules, with a 10 min first and 5 min second round.

Probably the most highly-anticipated fight on the card featured 33 year-old Mirko Cro Cop, who took on Japanese judo fighter Tatsuya Mizuno. Cro Cop wasted no time here, firing in the low kicks from the bell, stepping forward to lock up Mizuno’s right arm then pumping in uppercuts and straight punches to deposit his opponent on the canvas in a heap of pain. Cro Cop leapt atop the unresponsive Mizuno for a ground and pound finish, leaving the referee no choice but to jump in and call it.

“A lot of fighters refuse to fight me these days, but he had courage and he accepted,” said Cro Cop afterward from center ring. “For my next fight, I will need a stronger opponent, so anyone is welcome!” Who will answer the call?

Continue reading "Cro Cop Victorious; Aoki Injured in No Contest"

Cro Cop Now Dreaming of Mizuno


Mirko Cro Cop is introduced before his bout against Josh Barnett at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute 2006. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Fight Entertainment Group announced today that Mirko Cro Cop will be officially returning to action this Saturday at DREAM’s inaugural event. His opponent? Not who you thought it was.

FEG officials revealed that Cro Cop would be facing Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno and not Yoshihiro Nakao, the Japanese heavyweight infamously known for kissing Heath Herring during a pre-fight staredown, and whom Cro Cop mentioned he would be fighting last week in his blog.

“A little over an hour ago I was contacted by DREAM officials,” Cro Cop said in the blog post. “They informed me that my opponent on March 15 will be Yoshihiro Nakao from Japan. It was very important for me to fight as soon as possible and I’m happy that DREAM was able to find the opponent for me.”

The move comes a few days after various sites connected to the Japanese mixed martial arts scene reported that the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) had made threats against Nakao if he chose to fight the former PRIDE heavyweight title contender.

The fight will be Cro Cop’s first since going 1-2 in an unsuccessful stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Croatian is currently on a hiatus from competing in the promotion. UFC President Dana White has stated that he believes Cro Cop will be returning before the end of the year.

Mizuno dropped two out of his three bouts in 2007. He was stopped with strikes by both Thiago and Assuerio Silva in consecutive fights but managed to rebound with a win over Masayuki Kono in November.

Five More Bouts Added to DREAM


Photo courtesy of Fight Entertainment Group.

Fight Entertainment Group has announced five more bouts for the upcoming inaugural event of the newly-formed DREAM promotion, which will take place on March 15th at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

Three of the fights have been announced as being part of the promotion’s lightweight grand prix: Mitsuhiro Ishida will take on Yarennoka! upstart Bu Kyung Jung, Katsuhiko Nagata goes up against Artur Oumakhanov, and Eddie Alvarez will face off against Andre Dida in a previously reported bout.

The new additions give the tournament a total of seven opening-round bouts, a number that DREAM producer Keiichi Sasahara confirmed as being final for the time being. Sasahara also announced that Caol Uno and Vitor Riberio, who were both advertised as competing in the tournament, will be unavailable due to injury.

Hayato Sakurai will look to extend his current four-fight winning streak against Hidetaka Monma in a non-tournament bout. The fight will take place at a catch-weight of 168 lbs. Also announced as being part of the card was Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa, who will take on an opponent yet to be determined.

Although Mirko Cro Cop announced yesterday via his official blog that he would be facing Yoshihiro Nakao in his first fight for DREAM, officials did not make any formal announcement other than Cro Cop’s participation at the event will still take place.

The promotion, which will also be run by officials involved with Yarennoka! and promoted by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, will now serve as the official successor for the PRIDE and K-1 Hero’s brands. K-1 announced plans for the discontinuation of Hero’s events earlier this year.

The complete card for the event thus far can be viewed through our rumors section.

Cro Cop Gets Nakao in DREAM Debut


Mirko Cro Cop is introduced before his bout against Josh Barnett at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute 2006. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

It seems that Mirko Cro Cop will be returning to action on March 15th after all…

Cro Cop made the announcement on his official blog earlier today, also stating that he would be facing Yoshihiro Nakao in his first fight for DREAM, you know that guy who kissed Heath Herring?

“A little over an hour ago I was contacted by DREAM officials,” Cro Cop said in the blog post. “They informed me that my opponent on March 15 will be Yoshihiro Nakao from Japan. It was very important for me to fight as soon as possible and I’m happy that DREAM was able to find the opponent for me.”

The fight will be Cro Cop’s first since going 1-2 in an unsuccessful stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Croatian is currently on a hiatus from competing in the promotion. UFC President Dana White has stated that he believes Cro Cop will be returning before the end of the year.

Since being dropped pre-fight by Herring in the infamous kissing incident, Nakao has gone 2-1. He hasn’t fought since submitting Edson Draggo with a neck crank at PRIDE 34 last April.

Touch of gloves to Bloody Elbow for the find.

UFC, Cro Cop Split Ways… For Now?


Mirko Cro Cop is introduced before his bout against Josh Barnett at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute 2006. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Immediately after Mirko Cro Cop jettisoned to Japan to become part Fight Entertainment Group and Dream Stage Entertainment’s combined “DREAM” effort, rumors began to circulate that his departure from the Ultimate Fighting Championship was either totally positive or completely negative.

Speculation that the UFC asked the Croatian to either restructure his contract or that they would release him can be put to rest now according to MMA Weekly, who after speaking with UFC President Dana White have found that Cro Cop’s departure was amicable on both sides and could only be temporary.

“I have a lot of respect for Cro Cop and I like him,” White told Ken Pishna. “He wants to win the UFC title really bad. He is going back to Japan and taking some tune-up fights and wants to come back and prove himself in the UFC by the end of the year. I wish him the best of luck and hope to see him back.”

So it seems that this is just a classic case of a fighter taking a break from the UFC so they can fight in smaller shows to gain experience and get their confidence back a la Sean Salmon and Marcus Davis, right?

Maybe, maybe not in my opinion. As you can see in White’s quote, he wasn’t very definitive as to whether or not it was a sure-fire thing that Cro Cop would return. At the same token, Cro Cop’s comments about not liking the cage very much at the DREAM press conference the other day weren’t very forthcoming either.

“I don’t want anyone to think that I’m running away from the UFC but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my career lately and right now I believe DREAM is the right place for me,” said Filipovic. “I never liked fighting in the cage, always in a ring. Japan is also like my second home. Many reasons have brought me back here.”

There’s been a lot of varying opinions over the past couple of days regarding Cro Cop and I have to say that all of them are correct in different ways. MMA Junkie points out that Cro Cop now has a chance to rematch Fedor , who is expected to fight for the promotion at some point.

Sam Caplan of Five Ounces of Pain feels that Cro Cop’s departure for the UFC is a win from both sides and that he doesn’t expect Cro Cop to return to the Dana White-headed promotion unless he defeats Emelianenko.

FEG and DSE Combine to Create “DREAM”


Photo courtesy of FEG.

Rumors that Fight Entertainment Group and Dream Stage Entertainment were working together to create a new mixed martial arts promotion were confirmed earlier today as officials from both sides gathered at the Metropolitan Edmont Hotel in Tokyo, Japan to announce the creation of “DREAM”.

The promotion, which will also be run by officials involved with Yarennoka! and promoted by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, will now serve as the official successor for the PRIDE and K-1 Hero’s brands. K-1 announced plans for the discontinuation of Hero’s events late last month.

“Now that PRIDE and Hero’s are gone, we’ve wanted to put on new mixed martial arts shows that would continue the dream that was achieved on New Year’s Eve,” FEG President Sadaharu Tanikawa stated at the press conference. “We wanted to create a show that would be enjoyed by the fans and would make for an exciting live event. We received a petition including over 3,000 signatures from fans who requested that we find a replacement for PRIDE. We’ve answered their calls and we plan to put together something that no one has ever seen before.”

Matchmaker Keiichi Sasahara’s first order of business will be putting together the promotion’s first card, which will apparently feature a lightweight grand prix. The only announced bout for the event was a long-awaited showdown between Shinya Aoki and Gesias Calvancante, who were booked to face each other at Yarennoka!. The bout was scrapped after Calvancante re-injured his recently surgically repaired knee during training.

Additional participants for the tournament that were also announced included the following: Andre Dida, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Caol Uno, Joachim Hansen, Gilbert Melendez, Kotetsu Boku, Artur Oumakhanov, Luiz “Buscape” Firmino, Jung Bu-Kyung, and Kazuyuki Miyata.

The event is currently slated to take place on March 15th at the Saitama Super Arena. Five other events including the remainder of the lightweight grand prix and a middleweight tournament were also announced.

The biggest surprise of the day came when heavyweight star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was introduced on stage. The native Croatian was recently under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he had lost two of his last three bouts, including a brutal knockout at the hands of Gabriel Gonzaga.

Filipovic assured fans that he was not “running away” from the UFC, but simply doing what was best for his career.

“I had a hard time losing my last two fights in the UFC,” said Filipovic. ” I don’t want anything to think that I’m running away from the UFC but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my career lately and right now I believe DREAM is the right place for me. I never liked fighting in the cage, always in a ring. Japan is also like my second home. Many reasons have brought me back here.”

The UFC has yet to make a public statement about the UFC’s departure. Various rumors concerning Filipovic’s contract status with the promotion have been floating around lately. Some have speculated that the UFC asked the Croatian to either restructure his contract or that they would release him. MMA Weekly reports that sources have said the split between the two sides was amicable.

Aside from Filipovic, a number of potential participants in future events were revealed. Kazushi Sakuraba, Kiyoshi Tamura, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai are all expected to be fighting inside the promotion in the coming months. Royce Gracie and Fedor Emelianenko also appeared via satellite to make their intentions to compete at a future event known.

So how do the weight classes break down?

Surprisingly, they are strikingly similar to those that are currently used in the United States. The heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight classes are exactly the same. Welterweights will compete at a maximum of 168 lbs while lightweight will be capped off at 154 lbs. Plans for lower weight classes are said to be discussed in the future.

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