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.
Next entry: Melendez to Defend Against Lemley
Previous entry: Report: Silva Gets Mendes as Replacement