Coker responds to criticism of Cro Cop and USADA suspension

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic was suspended for two years by USADA for volunteering that he had taken HGH. He then retired, and was released by the UFC. He ended up returning to MMA and fought four times in Japan for RIZIN during his suspension.

Now Cro Cop is fighting Roy Nelson at Bellator 200 in London, England. Bellator has received some criticism for allowing the fight, but it’s misguided. USADA is not a state, provincial, tribal, or municipal government agency – it’s a non-profit corporation that contracted with a for-profit fight promotion, the UFC, to conduct anti-doping tests. Although the test found no HGH, the admission alone was sufficient to suspend him for two years. That means he can’t fight in the UFC for two years. He didn’t.

Had Cro Cop tried to fight in North America, the USADA suspension is information that any regulating AC would want to know about, and it would likely factor into a licensing decision to some degree. But the suspension is over. The fact that Cro Cop avoided a USADA-UFC suspension by fighting in Japan is not sufficient cause to prohibit his licensing now. It’s not even close to meeting that criteria.

Bellator CEO Scott Coker spoke with Jim Edwards of MMANYtt and reacted to the criticism.

“Here’s the thing, Mirko fights in Rizin, in Japan, and USADA has relationship with the UFC and they’re in Japan all the time,” said Coker, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “Why didn’t they go after him two years ago when he started fighting in Rizin? This is a question just because he’s fighting for Bellator at our 200th event?

“To me it’s like, if you wanted to take action, you should’ve took action a long time ago, because to me, honestly, when we booked it, we didn’t even know there were issues. He’s already fighting so we thought he was able to fight.”

“Listen, USADA works with the UFC. They’re doing their own thing, so go do it. I just feel like the timing of it is a little bit questionable because at the end of the day, if you really wanted to enforce it, you should’ve enforced it two years ago when Mirko fought in Japan.”

Bellator doesn’t avoid regulation. When they fight overseas, they are regulated by the highly-respected Mike Mazzulli, head of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation and president of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports. If there was a problem with Cro Cop fighting, Mazzulli would see to it, but there isn’t a problem, so he isn’t. You can bet though that Cro Cop will get tested.

Bellator 200: Carvalho vs. Mousasi will take place on May 25, 2018 at the SSE Arena, Wembley in London, England.