Cro Cop returns vs. TK at Dec. 31 Rizin FF show

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mixed martial arts heavyweight legend Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic is returning to the sport for “a few more fights” according to RIZIN FF boss Sakakibara. The Croatian will fight Tsuyoshi Kohsaka on December 31 at Rizin FF 9: World Grand Prix Final Round in Saitama, Japan. TK is 47 and Cro Cop 43, making an even 90, far from the oldest combined fight age, but still notable.

RIZIN GP2016無差別級王者のミルコ選手が一年振りにRIZINのリングに帰還します。 引退までの残り数試合、最も愛する日本のファンの前で闘う事を決断しました。 最後まで勝負論の有る試合がしたいと言うのがミルコの希望です。 引退に向けて動き出すミルコの最終章に注目して下さい! #mirkocrocop #RIZINFF #RIZIN2017 The RIZIN GP 2016 winner Mirko Crocop will be returning to the RIZIN ring after a year. He has decided to fight in front of his beloved Japanese fans a few more times before he retires. He would like to continue to face meaningful opponents until he hangs his gloves. Keep an eye out for Mirko's final chapter.

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The event will stream on FITE TV in North America.

Inspired initially by Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport documentary, Filipovic began training in his garage, where his father had fashioned a heavy bag, and brought home railway track scraps for use in weight lifting.

Cro Cop joined the army in 1994, where he learned to box. He then joined the police, the source of his nickname. He had begun an amateur boxing career, when in 1996 he signed with K-1 as a pro kickboxer, beating Jerome Le Banner in his very first match. Second fight was a loss to Ernesto Hoost. That has to be among the most challenging introduction combat sports history.

He then returned to amateur boxing, enjoying notable success for three years, before returning to K-1.

He started MMA in 2001, vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, and by 2003, stopped kickboxing and did not return until 2012. In 2003 he lost to Big Nog for the PRIDE Interim heavyweight championship in the fight of the year. In 2005 he lost to Fedor Emelianenko for the PRIDE heavyweight championship in the Fight of the Year. Finally, in 2006 he won a major MMA championship, beating Ikuhisa Minowa, Hidehiko Yoshida, Wanderlei Silva, and Josh Barnett to win the PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix.

PRIDE then folded and his contract was assumed by the UFC. There he went 1-2 and was released. Outside the UFC he went 3-0 with one NC, and was back. He went 2-4 his second time in the UFC and was again released. Outside the UFC he went 3-1, and was back in the UFC for the third and final time. There he won a rematch with Gabriel Gonzaga, before being taken down by USADA, retiring, unretiring, fighting again for the “new PRIDE” RIZIN, and now retiring again, for what looks like the final time.

Filipovic was scheduled to fight at UFC Fight Night 79: Henderson vs. Masvidal on November 28, 2015, but following an anti-doping test, volunteered that he had taken HGH in an attempt to accelerate recovery from an injury. He retired and was released from his UFC contract.

He then returned to MMA with the 2016 Rizin Open-Weight Grand Prix tournament.Filipovic tapped Hyun Man Myung in the first round, and knocked out the formidable King Mo to get into the semi-finals. There, in one day, he beat Baruto Kaito with one knee to a 400-pound body, and KOed Amir Aliakbari to win it all.

The declared that that was definitely the end of his career, but as often happens in the sport, it’s not, quite, yet.