by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
A recent article on the Croatian news site Vecernji-list claimed that Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic would be offered a contract to fight in the UFC.
Mirko has one more fight left on his Pride contract, so he will be a free agent after his fight on New Year’s Eve against a currently unannounced opponent.
According to the supposed contract, as reported by Vecernji-list, Mirko would be offered a $1 million signing bonus in a deal that would secure the Croatian star to the UFC for six fights. Moreover, Mirko would supposedly earn $1.2 million for his first two fights in the UFC, $2 million for the two fights thereafter, and an undisclosed amount for the final two fights on the contract.
The specifics of the contract don’t appear to be anything more than speculation, allegedly stemming from an airline passenger who claimed to have looked over the shoulder of a UFC official during a flight.
Cro Cop dismissed the published terms of the contract, as he told Vecernji-list, “I wish it’s that much… that guy must have seen one extra zero. Even boxers do not get that kind of money.”
Cro Cop would have no reason to be dishonest by understating how much the UFC is offering him. If anything, for the purposes of negotiations, it’s in the best interests of fighters in general for them to overstate— not understate— how much money they’re being offered, so there’s no reason to doubt Cro Cop when he says that Vecernji-list’s published contractual terms are not even close to the actual terms.
However, in the same article, Cro Cop did confirm that the UFC has shown interest in him, as he told Vecernji-list, “They are interested in me, but I did not sign anything.” Just the fact that the UFC has expressed interest to Cro Cop is significant because it indicates that UFC officials appear to be serious when they say that they will try to sign the best fighters in the world in 2007. Cro Cop is currently the #2 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings.
This news comes on the heels of BodogFight’s announcement that Pride Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, who is the #1 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, will be fighting at a BodogFight card in March in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Fedor is currently taking his bookings as a succession of one-fight contracts, with the next one being his December 31st fight in Pride, followed by his March fight with BodogFight. For fights after March, it’s a pretty safe bet that every well-funded MMA organization in the world will be seeking Fedor’s services, whether it’s in the form of more one-fight contracts.or an exclusive long-term deal.
With the top two heavyweights in the world on the verge of being free agents within a few months of one another, the face of the MMA industry could change depending on which organization or organizations are able to sign Fedor and Cro Cop.
Fans of MMA will undoubtedly be hoping that the long-awaited rematch between Fedor and Cro Cop will take place at some point. Fedor defeated Cro Cop by unanimous decision on Pride’s Final Conflict card last year in one of the best fights of the year.