by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Speculation has run rampant for the past couple of weeks that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, ranked #2 in MMAWeekly’s top ten heavyweights, was going to leave Pride for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It now appears that the speculation is true.
Sources from within Filipovic’s camp and an independent source in Las Vegas have confirmed to MMAWeekly that the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix champion has indeed made the decision to move on to the UFC.
As reported last week on MMAWeekly.com, a statement released on Filipovic’s own web site indicated that a decision was near and that the UFC was a distinct option, “…the bottom line is that Cro Cop likely won’t have his chance to fight Fedor for the title in the next few months. With that said, it’s perfectly reasonable for Mirko to consider other offers.” The statement continued, “…the most interesting offers are coming from the US,” and also said, “The offer from the UFC is actually in Cro Cop’s hands.”
The statement also hinted that the Croatian MMA star was ready to leave Pride: “Is Cro Cop seriously considering making his UFC appearance? Let’s say that Mirko is always open to new challenges and he is looking forward to his U.S. debut, which will happen very soon.”
Of course, with Pride starting to run shows in America, his U.S. debut could have possibly taken place under either banner, but his own camp has confirmed that he expects to make that debut in the UFC.
Our sources have not confirmed whether there is an agreement in principle between Filipovic and the UFC, or whether he has actually signed a contract with America’s largest mixed martial arts promoter.