'Cro Cop' clears the air
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is a company man. At least, he comes off that way.
"I made my career in Japan. I liked Pride more than anything, but those days are gone and UFC is the main on the MMA market today. I think my place is to fight in the UFC and that is it."
That's a far cry from the tornado of uncertainty that swirled following his win over Mustapha Al-Turk at UFC 99 in June.
That fight was the only time UFC president Dana White did a one-fight deal over the phone. As soon as it was over, it appeared that White got played for a mark.
A report by Yahoo! Sports reporter Kevin Iole noted that Cro Cop opted not to live up to a verbal agreement with White and instead would bolt back to Japan, returning to the Dream organization he left behind six months prior.
White even responded in the report, saying, "Isn't that a dirty (expletive) thing to do? The first time in the history of the company I do one over the phone. He promised me a three-fight deal and he (expletived) me."
Cro Cop is now back in the fold, the ink dry on a new three-bout deal -- courtesy of a personal visit from UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta in the fighter's home country of Croatia -- and fighting Junior Dos Santos on Sept. 19 in Dallas.
During a media conference call for UFC 103 on Tuesday, the one time Pride Open Weight Grand Prix champion talked of his decision to sign with the UFC, hoping to lock down talk of the controversial dealings squarely in the past.
"We make the deal for the Germany event. It was a single fight, but I told Dana that I want to keep fighting and that everything was pretty much clear," recounted the Croatian.
"Then so many kinds of rumors came from Internet, this that, this that, but there is no truth to any of this. I was able to choose. I was free on the market and I wanted to go in the hardest and the only global organization today, it's UFC. I think that every true fighter should fight in the UFC today because UFC definitely the only worldwide organization today."
There was interest from Dream, but Cro Cop insists he was nothing but fair to all parties involved.
"Dream was interested in me to keep fighting there," he said. "I was fair with Dana White, talking with UFC. I was fair with Dream and I told Dream I would accept better deal, better challenge for me, and UFC is definitely for fighters (a) better chance and that's all. There is no mystery in that. And of course, I decided to take UFC offer."
And with that, the smoke clears. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic is a UFC fight once again.