Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic, who left the UFC for retirement after a strange set of circumstances surrounding a possible USADA violation while rehabbing his injured shoulder last year, has been announced as returning to action in Japan, where he rose to prominence as part of the legendary Pride promotion. Appearing at a press conference along with former Pride/UFC star Wanderlei Silva, Cro-Cop amusingly listed the “details” of how he wound up roped into Rizin FF’s upcoming openweight tournament.

I started with Pokemon Go, and somehow I ended up this morning in Japan. And in the morning around 9 o’clock I ran into Mr. Sakakibara in Ropongi, so he invited me to be his guest at the press conference. Since I was in a track suit, Mr. Sakakibara took me to the shop, bought me a suit, nice shoes… …so here I am. I had a great relationship with Mr. Sakakibara during my Pride days, so I just couldn’t refuse.

See the full announcement below:

Stating that he felt great, Cro-Cop was just one of the fighters introduced for the openweight. Alongside Silva and the Croatian legend (both of whom will get a pass for the first round), Kazuyuki Fujita (15-11) and Baruto Kaito (1-0) were announced. Outside of the openweight tournament, Gabi Garcia and Darron Cruickshank were announced as fighting at the event.

For his part, Cro-Cop was last seen getting revenge by way of a TKO via vicious elbows against old foe Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC. That was April of last year. A planned follow-up fight under the UFC banner against Anthony Hamilton, however, was nixed due to a possible doping violation with the UFC. While rehabbing a shoulder injury in November 2015, Cro-Cop admitted to using a banned substance, announced his retirement, and picked up a two year ban by the USADA as a result. While it was later revealed that he actually passed the associated drug test, his ban remained in place.

Rizin FF, operating out of Japan, has no obligation to uphold Cro-Cop’s suspension of course. So they’ve enlisted one of the most popular heavyweights to compete in the country, which should ensure more eyeballs tuned in come December 29th (the opening round kicks off September 25th, but as noted, Cro-Cop and Silva have a bye for the first round).

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.