Photo Credit: RIZIN

Mirko “Cro Cop” Returns To RIZIN And Signs Multi-Fight Deal

RIZIN Fighting Federation announced during a press conference in Tokyo on Friday that the promotion has signed PRIDE FC legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to a multi-fight deal which will start this December 31st against Tsuyoshi “TK” Kosaka and conclude in a retirement fight at the New Year’s Eve Show in 2018.

The 43-year-old “Cro Cop” has had an immense amount of success under the RIZIN banner. He entered the RIZIN World Openweight Grand Prix 2016 and finished all four opponents leading to winning the coveted title on New Year’s Eve. Destroying prominent figures such as “King Mo” Lawal and Amir Aliakbari during the tournament showed that he had a lot left in the tank.

On the flipside, Kosaka was taken out by Baruto in the 2nd Round of that same tournament. He did knock out British punching bag James Thompson at the organization’s inaugural event in 2015 but did not compete for a ten year period before that.

Even though the Croatian wanted a young up-and-comer for his return from a two-year hiatus, RIZIN FF executive Chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara expressed during the press conference that he decided on “TK” since Filipovic’s road to retirement should begin with old school fighters battling with heart and soul.

A written message from Filipovic that was read aloud during the proceedings stated, “All the injuries I sustained from past fights are finally healed and I’ll be in 100% shape for the first time in 10 years. I respect Kosaka to have the guts to face me. He better come in 100% shape otherwise fans would be disappointed.”

To this Kosaka responded by saying “Every time I go in the ring, I am ready to die in the ring. He asked me if I would be 100% ready, I will be 100% ready and I am ready to show my Samurai spirit and show the young fighters how it’s done.”

These two men will face off at RIZIN Fighting World Grand Prix 2017: Final Round on December 31, 2017.

In addition to “Cro Cop” making his return, the promotion announced that prospects Shinju Auclair and Chelsea Lagrasse will face off on the same night as well as undefeated grappler “KING” Reina will take on UFC veteran Cindy Dandois on the December 29 card.

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John Hyon Ko is an Asia-based combat sports journalist as well as the host and producer of Kumite Radio.