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Impact Report: Cro Cop’s “sabbatical” a win/win

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By now you’ve heard the reports that Mirko Cro Cop has signed on the fight with “Dream,” the new offspring of K-1 and former staff members of PRIDE.

How Cro Cop found his way back “home” to Japan has become a topic of debate. Has he received a full release from the UFC or was he granted special permission to fight outside of his contract? At this early juncture, it’s hard to say for certain.

Whether you want to call it a release, sabbatical, indefinite vacation, excused absence, career resuscitation, or whatever; you should call it a move that’s in the best interest of the UFC, Cro Cop, and the fans.

That being said, my feeling is that there had to have been a release of some kind.

While I’m sure the UFC retained the right to re-negotiate Cro Cop’s contract or accelerate it as a result of poor performance, I’m even more sure it was probably not an exclusive deal. As such, the UFC almost certainly had to sign off on something to allow Cro Cop to compete outside of his current contract.

Personally, unless Cro Cop faces Fedor Emelianenko and defeats him, I don’t see him fighting in the UFC again. Ever. Why would he fight for less? If he was willing to fight for less then he could have just re-negotiated with the UFC and stayed there. Unless the UFC is going to pay what he was making, what incentive does he have to return?

In the end, the decision could prove to be a smart gamble for the UFC. There’s a chance Cro Cop’s reputation can be rebuilt to some extent in Japan, and at no cost to the UFC. If a rematch between Cro Cop and Fedor is signed and Cro Cop wins, then the UFC stands to gain a lot. And you better believe Cro Cop vs. Fedor II has a realistic chance to happen, because according to reports, Fedor will be fighting for Dream at some point in the future.

If Cro Cop were to defeat Fedor, the UFC already has him under contract. It’s not as if they have to go out and re-negotiate everything from scratch. At that point, they could bring him back and have him face their heavyweight champion. Or, perhaps there comes a time when the UFC and Randy Couture work things out.

Couture wants Fedor but that match will have to wait. The problem is, if Fedor loses in the meantime then the market appeal of that match will suffer greatly. If someone beats Fedor, that fighter could position themselves as the disputed number heavyweight fighter in the world. As of today, Couture vs. Cro Cop doesn’t have great appeal. But Couture vs. “The guy who beat Fedor” could have some box office potential.

In regards to Cro Cop, a legal separation from the UFC could be just what the sports psychologist ordered. No, I have no idea if Cro Cop sees a sports shrink, but after failing to perform to his potential in the UFC, something had to give.

While Cro Cop has never been one to show great emotion, his showings in the UFC were lackluster, at best. The marriage between the UFC and Cro Cop was a rocky one from the start and those who claimed his heart was still in PRIDE have proven to be correct. If a return to familiar scenery can awaken the beast once known as Mirko Cro Cop, then everyone will come out ahead.

33 COMMENTS
  • Evan says:

    Nice work Sam. If Cro Cop ever faces Fedor I am sure it will be on the last fight of Fedor’s contract.

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  • Zack says:

    Cro Cop vs Fedor II is a match that would be HUUUGE in Japan, just like the last time (a fight I re-watch about once a week while on the treadmill). I wouldn’t be so sure we don’t see it some time this year, maybe even New Year’s eve. I say that because I’m one of those that thinks Randy will be in litigation for the next 24 months.

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  • Huckaby says:

    Why are you actually assuming it’s a non-exclusive contract? What previous history or inside information is there that it’s even possible?

    There was a clause where if two consecutive fights were lost they could negate his contract. They obviously did so and negotiations on a new deal fell through.

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  • Evan says:

    I have a feeling the UFC still has something to hold onto here with Mirko. Maybe at least something to keep him from fighting in America.

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  • Kelvin says:

    Sam, I agree

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  • MJC_123 says:

    Its a good idea, and makes for a very good story.
    As Cro-Cop is fighting for the HW title in his first match in DREAM I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fighting FEDOR again real soon, maybe NYE…..Would be perfect if the UFC could then swoop in again and pick up the healed pieces of Mirko Filopovic.

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  • smith says:

    sweet…now Cro Cop can use steroids instead of taking a deserved downsized contract and knock off a couple cans in UFC

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    Fedor ducked Cro Cop for years before PRIDE basically shamed him into fighting CC in 2005. Why would that change for the second go-round? I’d be surprised to see a rematch before 2012.

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  • Zack says:

    From Sherdog, Croc Cop quote:

    “But of course, one day, I don’t know when, but definitely I’ll be back in the UFC to show that it was just a bad period for me. Now I’m fully recovered, physically and mentally, most important mentally.”

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  • Zack says:

    GKH – Although it was Fedor’s toughest fight, he pretty much dominated most of the exchanges. Gonz and Kongo showed how to beat Mirko – press the action and don’t let him circle you. That’s a big money fight Fedor knows he can win, why would he hide this time?

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    #3, I’m not assuming it’s non-exclusive. I meant to say “not an exclusive,” lest anyone thought otherwise. Sorry for the confusion.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    “Now I’m fully recovered, physically and mentally, most important mentally.”

    Translation:

    My nuts feel great. And no more nightmares of big man kneeing me in balls like jackhammer.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    “That’s a big money fight Fedor knows he can win, why would he hide this time?”

    I’m not big on saying Fedor ducks fighters in general, but geez, at some point his record has to speak for itself. His last 8 fights: 2 worthy opponents. CC in 2005. and Big Nog in 2004.

    I didn’t realize it was this bad until I took a look on Fight Finder.

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  • Sam Cupitt says:

    Apparently according to something I just read on the Underground forum which claims to be an interview with Dana White regarding the Cro Cop situation there was a clause in cro cop’s contract where if he lost two in a row the UFC had a right to renegotiate his contract.

    But instead of resigning for less money, Cro Cop decided to rack up some wins in lesser organisations (i.e. Dreams). Apparently if he gets some wins (and most likely ONLY wins) Dana White will let him back in the UFC for another run if he wants to.

    http://www.mma.tv/TUF/index.cfm?ac=ListMessages&PID=1&TID=1222163&FID=1&pc=125

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  • Donk says:

    Great article Sam, someone has to put this into perspective and you summed it up perfectly.

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  • ufcfan says:

    spot on sam…

    it really is win-win for both the ufc and cro cop.

    cro cop is a stand up dude and even said himself he’d like to return to the ufc and avenge his losses.

    if cro cop stinks out the place in japan as well he’s clearly past his prime, if he does well they bring him back…

    the casual mma in america isn’t affected anyway as cro cop never made the impact everyone thought he would

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  • dice says:

    # # 8 Grape Knee High Says:
    February 13th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    “Fedor ducked Cro Cop for years before PRIDE basically shamed him into fighting CC in 2005. Why would that change for the second go-round? I’d be surprised to see a rematch before 2012.”

    Where do you come up with this stuff? Cro Cop had 2 times that he could have faced Fedor in a tournament format but he lost. So I am unable to see how Fedor could have ducked anyone in Final Conflict 2003 or Total Elimination 2004. When Cro Cop was actually able to string together a few wins he was then given a shot. He then got his ass kicked (you might be right though, Fedor did look scared in that fight, LOL).

    Cro Cop also would have probably gotten a shot if he had stayed after the absolute weight tourny, but he choose to sign with the UFC instead. (Shockwave 06)

    Yet somehow you are able to equate Cro Cop losing fights and signing with a different org. to mean that Fedor was “ducking Cro cop”. Welcome to GKH fantasy land. Don’t bother with a rebuttal unless you have a source that states Fedor was ducking Cro Cop, but then was shamed into fighting him. Because the circumstantial evidence doesn’t support your theory at all.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    dice, you started watching MMA in, what, 2006, 2007? Your comments seem to indicate this.

    Plenty of people were of the opinion from 2003-2005 that Fedor came up with phantom “injuries” to avoid fighting Cro Cop. Of course, CC didn’t help his case by getting KO’ed by Randleman, so it’s not entirely Fedor’s fault.

    Old fans will know what I’m talking about; newer fans won’t because all they have are downloaded fights and Fight Finder.

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  • Evan says:

    That whole PRIDE matchmaking thing was suspect…who the hell knows…

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  • platypus says:

    i started watching mma in 2003, my first event was pride 25 body blow. then i watched ufc 1-25, found them thru irc and direct connect mma hub. now that i got that out of the way…..

    fedors injuries and re-injury/hand surgery is wat prevented him from fighting mirko on different occassions, as well as mirko ko loss vs kevin randleman.

    hey grape, if you need to consult fight finder to think of fedors last few fights…then you need to be watching mma a little more closely.

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  • Evan says:

    “hey grape, if you need to consult fight finder to think of fedors last few fights…then you need to be watching mma a little more closely.”

    You may want to re-read what he said.

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  • Sergio says:

    GKH has a point.

    Fedor was seemingly out FOREVER due to a… broken finger.

    Hmmm.

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  • bubbafat says:

    Keep slammin Cro Cop guy’s. It just show’s how ignorant some people can be. Chuck has two bad performances and he’s still the man. What about Wandy? Look at Couture’s record. He got a title shot at LHW after two consecutive losses at heavyweight, and people were talkin’ the same crap about him. My point is CroCop ain’t washed up, he isn’t a joke, it wasn’t hype, and everyone who says otherwise is just a s@#t talker. Have some respect for the guys who bleed for your entertainment

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  • Bdavis says:

    Grape Knee High, you never cease to make me laugh! The stuff you post is funny as hell and I couldn’t agree with you more. Also agree with Evan. I like Fedor and I like Cro Cop. It was a great fight the first time around. Hopefully they will do it again.

    Fedore does need to fight quality competition. It’s hurting him. CC needs to rebound and win some fights. Period.

    P.S. I thought Fedor definitly looked “concerned” in his fight with CC.

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  • dice says:

    # # 18 Grape Knee High Says:
    February 13th, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    “dice, you started watching MMA in, what, 2006, 2007? Your comments seem to indicate this.

    Plenty of people were of the opinion from 2003-2005 that Fedor came up with phantom “injuries” to avoid fighting Cro Cop. Of course, CC didn’t help his case by getting KO’ed by Randleman, so it’s not entirely Fedor’s fault.

    Old fans will know what I’m talking about; newer fans won’t because all they have are downloaded fights and Fight Finder.”

    So you start out claiming that I just started watching MMA 2006, 07? Thats it. I know my history and the only “people” I remember claiming that Fedor was ducking Cro Cop were speculating fanboys on sherdog. So I will ask you again, do you have any credible source that states Fedor was ducking Cro cop? and if so provide a link, otherwise you just repeating rumors you heard. And there not even good rumors because the circumstantial evidence doesn’t support them (fedor had surgery on his hand after the Zulu fight and posted Xray pics online, so I am not buying the argument that it was a fake injury or he was overstating it just to avoid cro cop).

    Glad to see you backtrack a little and claim that Cro Cop didn’t help his case after losing to Randleman. But that was his SECOND chance to win his way to a fight with Fedor.

    You act like you know what your talking about but thats not what I have noticed.
    http://fiveouncesofpain.com/2008/01/28/5-oz-exclusive-ufc-deal-with-takanori-gomi-falls-through/

    “..What would the UFC pay Gomi? I’ll go out on a limb and say they might go 35k/35k at most.”

    Then you go on to say

    “So I would guess Gomi is probably just figuring out for himself, whether it is better to continue to fight in Japan for cheaper and possibly have a longer term career and post-career opportunities, or fight in the UFC for slightly more money…”

    3 days later he signs a contract with a japanese org for roughly $190,000 a fight. You had no idea what you were talking about, you were just throwing numbers around and guessing.

    So forgive me if I am not taking just your word on “fedor was ducking Cro Cop”. Since you have history of just making stuff up.

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  • Donk says:

    Well after Rampage’s title dreams were smashed in pride, a few years later he has managed to become the top dog in America. Time heals all. Cop showed in 2006 that he has what it takes to be the best. A few years down the road who knows what he’ll do. But i’m sure that just like fans look at Rampage as being a great entertaining fighter, and not the guy who couldn’t quite cut it in pride, in years time we will look on Cro-Cop in much the same way as being great entertaining fighter who inspired us all.

    MMA is a crazy place, but that’s what makes it the best in my eyes. You can’t predict what will happen next.

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  • Evan says:

    “MMA is a crazy place, but that’s what makes it the best in my eyes. You can’t predict what will happen next.”

    No kidding. The MMA newscycle is an insane thing to watch.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    Geez dice, bitter much? You take this stuff way too seriously.

    My Gomi comments were just conjecture and guessing. I think that was pretty obvious, no? What the UFC might have offered him is also not in the least correlated with what WVR is supposedly paying him.

    Re: Fedor, it is my opinion he was ducking, and I’m not the only one who felt this way. That make you feel better, that I qualify it with “opinion”? PRIDE was trying to book that fight since 2003 and while Fedor managed to stay very active, every time DSE tried to book it, Fedor claimed injury. You can believe whatever you want about Fedor, no skin off my back.

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  • dice says:

    Not bitter at all GKH, I just am tired of reading posts of people who act like I am the newb when their the ones making laughable comments.

    “My Gomi comments were just conjecture and guessing. I think that was pretty obvious, no?”

    Um, yeah thats why I wrote “You guess a lot.” after you posted those Gomi comments. My point had nothing to due with whether or not you were guessing, like you said that was obvious; it had to due with how awful of a guess it was.

    “What the UFC might have offered him is also not in the least correlated with what WVR is supposedly paying him.”

    Yeah I know, never said it did. I was just laughing at how you said that gomi was just figuring that he could stay in Japan for less money and have a longer career or go for more money in the UFC. And then he signs for way more money in Japan than your UFC “guess”.

    “Fedor, it is my opinion he was ducking, and I’m not the only one who felt this way. That make you feel better, that I qualify it with “opinion”? PRIDE was trying to book that fight since 2003 and while Fedor managed to stay very active, every time DSE tried to book it, Fedor claimed injury.”

    I guess we will just agree to disagree. Peace.

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  • Jye says:

    I don’t think Fedor was ducking Cro Cop either. He is the more well-rounded fighter and he doesn’t strike me as the type of fighter that ducks fights, although he definitely has some bad management at the moment

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  • […] course, other people are constructing elaborate fantasies where Dana is sending Mirko abroad to hunt down and defeat Fedor, which will magically repair the […]

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  • sandro82 says:

    we, will all see,
    i believe in Mirko, and still think he is one of the best.
    i trully think if he is 100% focused on the fight i dont think anyone can beat.
    i wish him the best in japan and rapid come back to show them what he know in ufc.
    about pride fighers being bad, i dont think so, it just the octagon totally different and much bigger.

    why are only two guys doing good from pride( henderson, and jacson) because they fought before in the octagon.

    the rest are learning.

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