by Ricardo Mendoza and Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
There has been much speculation surrounding the future of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, currently the #2 ranked MMAWeekly heavyweight in the world. MMAWeekly, along with other media outlets, has had usually reliable sources inform us that Filipovic had decided to leave Pride for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Although that is an option, it now appears that the determination has not yet been finalized.
In an exclusive interview with MMAWeekly, Filipovic’s manager Ken Imai, someone who certainly should know the final decision of Filipovic when it is determined, stated, “Mirko has made no decision on where he will fight next.”
Though that’s not to say that the Croatian won’t end up in the UFC. “Mirko has received several offers from different organizations and we are currently negotiating concerning his future,” said Imai. “We must take everything into consideration.” Imai did confirm that both Pride and the UFC are part of current negotiations, “Most definitely.”
Regarding the misinformation that Cro Cop had already made his decision, Imai was adamant, “No one in Mirko’s camp knows about any of the negotiations concerning his future. We would never allow anyone else, at this point in negotiations, to know the status or conditions of current negotiations.”
Pressed for details on when a decision would be forthcoming, Imai was adamant, “At this point, there is no decision. When it is ready to be announced, it will be announced. But at this point, there is no decision to announce.”
He did, however, clear up Filipovic’s current contract status with Pride. “There was no long-term contract… it was fight by fight,” Imai answered. So, Filipovic is a true free agent.
Filipovic recently won the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix defeating Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, Hidehiko Yoshida, and Ikuhisa Minowa en route to the title. His stock has never been any higher than it is right now, with several organizations around the world bidding for his services.
It is quite possible that he could end up fighting outside of Japan for the first time in his mixed martial arts career, but Pride is still in negotiations to keep Filipovic in their promotion. Now it is just a matter of waiting for negotiations to play out and for the Croatian to make the determination of just where his future is headed.