Of all the UFC fighters, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (21-4-2) appreciates the skills and talents of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (10-5) most, according to a recent interview with Jutarnji.hr.
And in a rather stunning statement, Cro Cop reveals that the contract offer from the UFC was so good that PRIDE FC did not even try to match it.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it is a Croatian media outlet. And since I can't translate Croatian to English, let's just go with the Americanized version from MMANews.com.
This conversation is the first real glimpse into the reasons behind Cro Cop's defection from PRIDE FC to the UFC. For me, the most exciting snip from this piece is the eventual showdown between Cro Cop and "The Pitbull."
It's not going to happen soon — Arlovski recently knocked out Marcio "Pe de Pano" (2-2) Cruz at UFC 66 and Filipovic is fighting Eddie Sanchez (6-0) at UFC 67 on February 3 — but with a six-fight contract it is a lock to happen sometime in 2007 and probably again in 2008.
Once Cro Cop beats Sanchez — and he will beat him — he'll probably get an opportunity to challenge current champ Tim Sylvia (23-2) for his beloved belt. And once he beats "The Maine-iac"— and he will beat him — we can look forward to a showdown between Cro Cop and Arlovski for the world title.
How amazing does that sound?
That's going to be quite a fight, which is something that hasn't happened in the Octagon for too long in the heavyweight division.
I just don't understand why we have to wait so long — we've waited long enough.
Below are some other good snips from the article.
Mirko on the financial terms of the UFC and PRIDE FC contract offers:
... financial proposal of the UFC was better. The Japanese knew they could not come close to the American proposal, therefore they did not try it.
Mirko on the non-monetary reason for his decision:
The wish for a change, the wish for new challenges. Until now I went to Japan 42 times in my career, there I achieved a reputation and a name in sport, but the American octagon is still a big new thing (for me).
Mirko on possibly not fighting Fedor Emelianenko again (who he lost to via unanimous decision in 2005):
I must admit, that I regret not fighting Fedor. If I would have been healthy and ready, maybe we would have faced each other at New Year's Eve. Still, I believe that the chance for a fight with Fedor isn't lost forever. Maybe we will manage to meet each other in the ring if PRIDE and UFC cooperate.
Mirko on his next opponent, Eddie Sanchez:
Until now, I have not [heard of him]. I know he is unbeaten in ultimate fighting, even though that doesn't necessarily mean that he is a world class fighter.
There's also this blurb on Cro Cop's official Web site:
Mirko Cro Cop is a new UFC fighter! It's now official, Mirko signed a contract with the UFC and he'll be in the line-up for UFC 67 show in February. More details on contract and a statement from Mirko will be available soon.
Once that statement becomes available, you'll be able to read it right here.