by Al Yu and Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
MMAWeekly brought you the news earlier this week when Mirko Cro Cop told a Croatian newspaper that the UFC has shown interest in signing him, and now Cro Cop has elaborated on the offers that he has received from the UFC and Pride.
In a subsequent interview with a different Croatian newspaper, Cro Cop said, “Like everybody else, I’m also available on the market. The offer from the UFC is slightly better than Pride’s offer, but I haven’t decided if I will change jerseys.” Cro Cop went on to say that he has also received an offer from another US-based organization, which he did not name.
Cro Cop, who won Pride’s 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix, also said in the same Croatian newspaper interview that money will not be the only factor that determines where he fights in the future, alluding to the fact that his decision will likely be swayed by his desire to secure a rematch with Fedor Emelianenko, who defeated Cro Cop last year at Pride’s Final Conflict 2005. Cro Cop is currently the #2 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, while Fedor is the #1 Heavyweight.
As previously reported by MMAWeekly, Fedor is currently taking his fight bookings as a succession of one-fight contracts, with the next one being his December 31st fight against Mark Hunt in Pride, followed by his March fight with BodogFights. After that, numerous MMA organizations will surely be seeking Fedor’s services, whether it’s in the form of a one-fight contract or an exclusive long-term deal.
In addition to the aforementioned Croatian newspaper interviews, the following statement was also posted on Mirko Cro Crop’s official web site:
“With MMA becoming a worldwide mainstream, more than a few promotions are trying to sign some of the best fighters in the world for their shows. Mirko’s office is jammed with various offers from the world’s top MMA promotions, and Cro Cop is considering everything before making his final decision. We’ve received tons of emails lately from Mirko’s fans, with questions about Mirko’s future MMA plans, so we decided to share some with you.
As we all know, Mirko’s primary goal has always been winning the PRIDE Heavyweight title. After a successful Grand Prix, Cro Cop was promoted to #1 contender and promised a fight with Fedor by the end of the year or in early 2007. However, it’s highly unlikely that we are going to see the rematch anytime soon. It was PRIDE’s call to set up one of the most anticipated rematches in MMA history, but the Japanese organization has been unable to do it so far. Maybe it’s not entirely their fault, as Fedor announced several times that he’s going to fight in some other MMA organizations too, such as BodogFights.
But 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.
Of course, the most interesting offers are coming from the US, where we have a number of new and promising MMA promotions. However, the leader in the US MMA market is still the UFC and they are joining the battle for top level MMA fighters with full confidence after a few recent successful events. Over the last few days we have read about the UFC’s offer to Mirko that allegedly leaked out due to someone’s eagle eye from the airplane backseat. Millions of dollars were about to appear on Cro Cop’s account if he agreed to fight in the UFC, according to the rumors. Well, that was nothing but the rumors, the offer from the UFC is actually in Cro Cop’s hands, but the numbers are entirely different.
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 US debut, which will happen very soon. The question remains – under which roof?
The bottom line of the whole story is – Mirko is still hoping to fight Fedor for the title in the first half of 2007. If the rematch will never happen under PRIDE’s roof, again, then Cro Cop will consider some other options. There are some other interesting challenges waiting for him in MMA, it’s not all about PRIDE’s Heavyweight belt.”