Coincidentally, or conveniently – depending upon how you want to look at it, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic located the Fountain of Youth just in the nick of time. Immediately following his 3rdRound victory over the starstruck Pat Barry at UFC 115, CC hit the MMA free agent market.
“I wanted to prove to everyone that I’m not too old, and they are wrong,” Filipovic said at the post-fight press conference. “I’ve got to tell you my preparation for this fight was the hardest preparation in all my life.”
After a disappointing debut with the world’s premier MMA organization in 2007, where Cro Cop posted a lackluster 1-2 mark, CC and the UFC amicably parted ways despite having multiple fights remaining on his contract. For whatever reason, the veteran wasn’t right and needed to hone his skills elsewhere before returning to the Octagon.
In July of 2009, While told Yahoo! Sports that the 2-0 (with a No Contest against Alistair Overeem) record Cro Cop put up since leaving the UFC was good enough to warrant an unprecedented one-fight deal. After posting a dominant 1stRound TKO over Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC 99 (The card was appropriately titled, “The Comeback”), Cro Cop earned himself the pre-arranged three-fight extension to remain with the UFC.
The 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix champ broke-in his newly inked deal by unleashing a slow and sluggish performance against the up-and-coming Junior dos Santos at UFC 103. The 3rdRound TKO loss apparently lit a fire under Cro Cop because he’s posted two straight finishes since, including his rear-naked submission of Barry on Saturday.
While most were dumping dirt on his illustrious career after his humiliating loss to dos Santos, Cro Cop found a way to recapture his Pride FC mojo and has surprisingly become the hottest name on the open market this side of Jake Shields.
“We’re going to talk to Mirko and see what Mirko wants to do,” UFC president Dana White stated. “Mirko has said to me and [UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta] that he wants to finish his career here, so we plan on him finishing his career with the UFC.”
If White and Co. were hoping to get a hometown discount because they were kind enough to allow the controversial striker back into their Octagon, just listen to his money-motivated post-fight speech where he was fishing for a PAIR of Fight Night Bonuses.
“I hope Dana White is not too stingy,” Filipovic jokingly said. “I want that Submission of the Night bonus, and maybe Fight of the Night, too?”
Cro Cop had to settle for only taking home Submission of the Night honors, but the extra $85,000 should be the first of many large payments to come for the rejuvenated, if not resurrected, 35-year-old.