Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Joins Wanderlei Silva in Rizin FF’s Openweight Grand Prix Tournament

By Tristen Critchfield Jul 16, 2016


Rizin Fighting Federation’s upcoming openweight grand prix just added another big name, as the promotion announced that Mirko Filipovic will take part in the bracket.

Filipovic will face an as-yet-to be named opponent as part of the 16-man tournament, which begins on Sept. 25 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. As expected, Wanderlei Silva’s participation was also confirmed by Rizin, although he too does not yet have an opponent. Additionally, Pride Fighting Championships and Sengoku veteran Kazuyuki Fujita will meet sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson in the bracket.

According to a release, the rest of the grand prix participants will be determined by Rizin’s partner promoters across the world as well as online fan voting. The tournament will conclude as part of Rizin’s two-day New Year’s Eve event on Dec. 29 and Dec. 31.

The heavyweight popularly known as “Cro Cop” announced his retirement late last year before he was to face Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night in Seoul, citing a shoulder injury that left him unable to raise his arm. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that Filipovic had been flagged for an anti-doping violation.

The Croatian was ultimately suspended for two years by USADA for using human growth hormone. His ban was retroactive to Nov. 9, 2015, but that suspension will likely not prevent him from competing in Japan for Rizin.

Filipovic, 41, last competed at UFC Fight Night 64 in Krakow, Poland, where he earned a third-round technical knockout victory over Gabriel Gonzaga. “Cro Cop” has won four of his last five bouts and owns a 31-11-2 career mark overall.

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