UFC President Dana White announced Tuesday on ESPN's "The Hot List" that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (22-5-2) will face Cheick Kongo (10-3-1) at UFC 75 on September 8 in London, England.
This is official confirmation of a report that we passed along earlier about the match up.
Cro Cop will look to rebound from one of the more devastating losses in his career -- one that appeared to damage his knee/ankle as he collapsed lifeless to the canvas from a vicious Gabriel Gonzaga head kick.
Not the case, according to Croatian, who claims he's more prepared and determined than ever for the showdown with the Frenchman at the O2 Arena.
Here's the transcript of comments from Cro Cop during a recent press conference (via 15Rounds.com):
"I am one of the most dangerous strikers in the world, but unfortunately, I did not prove that reputation in my last fight. It was a great shock for me and I believe for all my fans and I was very disappointed. But I am a true professional and fighting is my life so I'm training harder than ever. And in the next fight I will be better than ever so I hope you will all be there to see it. I am going to beat my opponent. As I already told you, it was a shock for me and many people ask me if I am okay, if I am injured – it didn't look good – that my ankle twisted, that my knee was looking bad, but it's okay now. I have started running already, I started full training already and I am dying for my next fight."
Good luck, Cheick. There's no doubt Cro Cop is out to redeem himself.
That's because this will be the third bout on his six-fight deal. And when it is complete, Cro Cop has talked openly about retirement.
Here's what I don't get: Did the UFC really bring Cro Cop over to fight Eddie Sanchez, Gabriel Gonzaga and Kongo?
Sure, the loss (to a very good, but relatively unknown opponent) threw a wrench into the plans. But there's a ton of talent -- and better match ups -- out there on the table that people want to see.
Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Brandon Vera, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell (who has expressed a willingness to move up to heavyweight to fight Cro Cop) and Fedor Emelianenko (not a UFC fighter) are all better fights than Kongo just to name a few.
That's seven fighters and seven huge fights. Yet, Cro Cop only has three fights remaining after Kongo.
Going forward, let's make 'em count fer chrissakes.