Notebook: Cro Cop leaves UFC
COLOGNE, Germany – Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was a short one.
Not long after stopping Mostapha Al-Turk in the first round of UFC 99 on Saturday at Lanxess Arena in his first fight in the UFC since back-to-back losses in 2007, Filipovic informed UFC president Dana White that he had signed a three-fight contract with the Japan-based DREAM.
White had signed Filipovic less than a month ago to a one-fight deal, the first time in more than nine years that he’d done that. He had worked out terms on two additional fights, but said he’d only put pen to paper for Saturday’s bout.
He brought Filipovic back because he knew the Croat is still very popular and Filipovic insisted he wanted to make a run for the title.
That proved not to be the truth. After turning down much tougher opposition, including Cain Velasquez, who defeated Cheick Kongo later on the card, he wound up with the lightly regarded Al-Turk.
But instead of getting a shot at big names like Randy Couture or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and fighting his way into title contention, Filipovic opted to bolt for Japan.
“Isn’t that a dirty [expletive] thing to do?” White asked rhetorically after being queried about Filipovic’s deal with DREAM. “He [expletived] me. The first time in the history of the company I do one over the phone. He promised me a three-fight deal and he [expletived] me.”
Filipovic looked unsteady and hardly impressive in defeating Al-Turk, who is winless in the UFC. He never landed one of his vaunted kicks and the fight ended not from a punch but when he poked Al-Turk in the eye with his finger.
Referee Dan Miragliotta didn’t see the poke, so it was regarded as a clean blow and Filipovic won by stoppage.
Filipovic was fighting five months to the day after knee surgery, one of several injuries he said kept him from performing at his best in his first stint in the UFC. Before the fight, he called his 1-2 UFC record “the black spot” on his career.
While speaking with reporters on a prefight conference call, Filipovic enthused about his return and said he was gunning for a title shot. All the while, he apparently knew he was in it for a one-fight deal.
He texted White on White’s cellular phone and told him he wanted to return. White said Filipovic declined numerous opponents.
Apparently, Filipovic, who is from Croatia, wanted to fight in Germany and use the UFC bout as a tuneup. He did and is now Dream bound, but he’ll almost certainly never fight in the UFC again.
“He didn’t keep his word,” White said, who said he’d had a two-hour talk with Filipovic on the day Filipovic texted and asked to be able to return. “He talked about honor and all this other [expletive] and he [expletived] me.
“He fed me this bull [expletive] about wanting to take a run for the title, and what I think he did was, he went out and did this. He turned down every other [expletive] fighter I offered him, because I needed him to fight Cain. He didn’t just poke Al-Turk; he poked me, too.”
As is his custom, Filipovic skipped the postfight news conference and could not be reached to comment on the DREAM deal.
Hardy played mind games: Dan Hardy won his grudge match against Marcus Davis, pulling out a split decision. He won 29-28 on the scorecards of judges Doug Crosby and Tony Weeks. Davis prevailed on Andy Roberts’ card by the same score. Yahoo! Sports also had it 29-28 for Davis.
There was bad blood between the two because of a war of words on the Internet. Hardy said he was just trying to provoke Davis because he figured correctly that Davis would take it seriously and that it might affect the way he fought.
“I used a lot of psychological warfare and it bothered him,” Hardy said. “My intention was to bother so it would have an effect on the fight.”
Davis stormed from the cage and declined to shake hands with Hardy. He also failed to appear at the postfight news conference, though he issued a statement in which he demanded a rematch.
“He came into my dressing room to talk after and I said I won,” Davis said in his statement. “He said it was close and he wouldn’t argue. That took something, I guess, but he’s not apologized for going too far with the talking. I won the fight.”
Bonus babies: Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva had an entertaining slugfest before the crowd of 12,854 and wound up winning Fight of the Night honors. They took home an extra $60,000 each for that.
Mike Swick, who stopped Ben Saunders in the second round, won Knockout of the Night. The Submission of the Night went to Terry Etim, who defeated Justin Buchholz with a D’Arce choke. Swick and Etim also earned an extra $60,000.
Big fights: Swick said he was looking for a big fight after scoring back-to-back wins over Jonathan Goulet and Saunders in fights in which he was the bigger name and had the most to lose.
He said he’d like a fight with former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, saying it would be an honor for him.
White had another suggestion since Swick kept talking about big fights.
“Swick is going to fight Rich [Franklin] next at 170,” White said, jokingly, since Franklin fights at light heavyweight.