Wednesday, December 13, 2006
by Jeff Sherwood and Josh Gross
Reigning PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix champion Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) has apparently decided to bolster the ranks of the UFC heavyweight division, a source inside the Croatian's camp informed Sherdog.com Wednesday.
Rumors have buzzed of Filipovic's departure from PRIDE since his official Web site reported in recent days that he would not fight on the Japanese promoter's year-end card.
Filipovic, the No. 2 heavyweight in the world behind PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures), would make an immediate impact on a division that has long been considered among the weakest in the UFC. Terms are not known, but it's expected Fillipovic, 32, could sign one of the most lucrative multi-fight deals in UFC history.
A former K-1 star, "Cro Cop" moved from kickboxing to mixed martial arts in 2001, and has since amassed in impressive 21-4-2 record. His biggest accomplishment in MMA occurred just last September, when the Fighter of the Year candidate stopped Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) and Josh Barnett (Pictures) on the same night to capture PRIDE's Grand Prix crown.
It was believed tournament victory would secure Filipovic a second crack at Emelianenko, whom the Croatian lost to by decision in epic August 2005 clash.
Filipovic's four losses have come against Emelianenko, former K-1 World Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt (Pictures), a shocking knockout against former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman (Pictures) and by submission in a classic battle against former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures).
"Cro Cop" is renowned for his striking skills, which features a devastating left high kick that is responsible for highlight-reel victories against the likes of Silva, Igor Vovchanchyn (Pictures) and Aleksander Emelianenko.
The super-striker would immediately vault to the top of the contender list for Tim Sylvia (Pictures)'s UFC heavyweight belt, should the "Maine-iac," who is currently renegotiating his contract with the Las Vegas-based promoter, remain with the organization.
There has been some discussion inside the UFC that "Cro Cop," who was not under contract to PRIDE, would make his cage-fighting debut versus Jake O'Brien (Pictures), a young, undefeated fighter whose strength is on the mat.
Source: Mirko "Cro Cop" Chooses UFC
edited: added the link