May 18, 2009

Pride Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 winner Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic will soon return to the UFC, according to his official blog on

"I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division," wrote Filipovic. "My next opponent will be Mustapha Al-Turk."

A subsequent press release from confirmed the return is set for UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany on June 13.

The Croatian kickboxer turned MMA stylist rode a wave of hype into the Octagon following the Grand Prix, but was decimated against division contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheik Kongo at UFC 70 and UFC 75, respectively.

He was released from his contract under amicable terms last February and signed with Fight Entertainment Group (FEG), where he gathered two wins and a no contest against Alistair Overeem at Dream 6.

In recent months, Filipovic hinted at a UFC return for the promotion's German debut, but gave no concrete details.

The former Croatian parliament member says he can still make a splash in the heavyweight division.

"I didn't do well in my first three appearances - I wasn't myself," he wrote. "By returning to the cage I want to prove that I can still fight at highest level, no matter when or where.

"I would really like to fight at least three times this year. I wish to fight against quality opponents and to fight my way up to a title shot but for now, I'll focus only on my next fight and after that we'll see what's going to be on the menu next."

Filipovic thanked UFC president Dana White for the invitation to return.

"I owe you a lot from our first deal, and I'll make it up to you," wrote Filipovic.

Al-Turk, a former Cage Rage heavyweight champ, lost to Kongo in his UFC 92 debut. The fate of Al-Turk's original opponent, Todd Duffee, is unknown at this time.

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