Cro Cop is a legend in the sport. He won the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix and fought in the UFC 11 times.
Filipovic last fought in the octagon in 2015, defeating Gabriel Gonzaga by technical knockout. He was scheduled to face Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night 79 in November 2015, but was pulled from the fight card and abruptly announced his retirement.
The following day it was revealed the Filipovic had been notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for a potential anti-doping violation. In a statement, Filipovic admitted to taking human growth hormone. He was given a two-year suspension by USADA and his contract with the UFC was terminated.
In September 2016, not yet a year into his two-year suspension, Cro Cop signed with the Japanese fight promotion Rizin. He fought five times in Japan and was signed to a one-fight Bellator deal earlier this month, but the Croatian has not complied with his USADA suspension.
On March 9, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker was in attendance for BAMMA 34 in London and was asked about Filipovic’s signing and his USADA issues.
“Here’s the thing, look, Mirko fights in Rizin in Japan and USADA has a relationship with the UFC, and they’re in Japan all the time. Why didn’t they go after him two years ago when he started fighting for Rizin? Is it a coincidence that this pops up because he’s fighting for Bellator on our 200th event? To me it’s like, if you wanted to take action you should have taken action a long time ago,” said Coker.
Bellator 200 takes place in London where there isn’t an independent commission. An official from the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation is expected to oversee the May 25 event. Coker claims that when Bellator signed Filipovic they didn’t think there was an issue, but quickly points out that USADA works with the UFC.
“We booked him and we didn’t even know there was any issues. It’s like he’s already fighting, so we thought he was able to fight. Listen, USADA works with the UFC. They’re doing their own thing, so go do it. I just feel like the timing of it is a little bit questionable. At the end of the day, if you really wanted to enforce it you should have enforced it two years ago when Mirko fought in Japan,” said Coker.
(Courtesy of MMAnytt.se)