Nelson expresses concern about Cro Cop and PED use

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Heavyweight Roy Nelson is a big advocate for rematches and didn’t always get them during his career. Thus he was happy to give Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic a rematch at Bellator 200. However, he has a reasonable concern.

Late in 2015, the Croatian fighter unexpectedly announced that he was retiring due to injury. The next day, the UFC announced he was provisionally suspended for a doping violation. Cro Cop had been subjected to a random, comprehensive, out of competition anti-doping test. At the time, he was using what he described as a small amount of HGH for a brief period of time. Filipovic informed the UFC immediately about the prohibited treatment. Then he retired, saying further that the retirement was caused by the injury, and not by the potentially failed test. In time, it was learned that the test detected nothing, but admission alone is sufficient cause for suspension. The United States Anti-Doping Agency suspended Cro Cop for two years, from November 9, 2015, to November 8, 2017. This was a reduction from a possible four years, since he admitted the use.

However, rather than keep him under contract, where he would remain in the testing pool, Cro Cop was released from his contract by the UFC. Free to fight in Japan where there is no regulation, Cro Cop fought four times, for RIZIN, during the two-year suspension. He is now on a remarkable eight-fight winning streak, at the age of 43.

“Cro Cop was actually a surprise,” said Nelson to Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie. “I was supposed to fight ‘Rampage,’ but he didn’t want to fight so they went out and got Cro Cop. I’m all about rematches. I’ve been trying to get them through my fighting career, but I’m all about it. It’s the one thing I always wish I had, so I want to give someone else a chance.”

“I think Cro Cop’s definitely always improving with age, but I think he’s back on the special supplements, better supplements than usual. Throughout my whole fight career, the only reason people want to fight me or have a chance to beat me, is if they get something. It’s something I just know that everybody is just on it. It’s one of those things where it’s an uphill battle. If you can help prevent it, cool. But at the end of the day I just go out there and fight whoever they want me to fight.”

“You’ve got to take the positive with the negative. This is an opportunity to get back in the tournament. I’m trying to be an alternate or something like that. And you only get paid when you fight, so the more fights I have, the better.

“I just want to go out there and get a W. I also want to get some revenge for my good friend [King Mo] Lawal; that’s about it. I just want to get back in the tournament and hopefully fight Matt [Mitrione] again.”

Bellator 200 will be held in London, England, where there is no government regulation, and Cro Cop will seemingly once again be able to dodge anti-doping rules. However, Bellator is no RIZIN. Bellator runs towards and not away from regulation for international cards, and secures the services of Mike Mazzulli, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions and boss at the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation. Mazzulli is one of the most respected regulators in the sport, and is aggressive and successful in the pursuit of dopers. Cro Cop will get tested; Nelson can expect a fair fight on May 25 at SSE Arena, Wembley.