Looks like Mirko Cro Cop (22-5-2) is calling in the big guns in preparation for his match against Cheick Kongo at UFC 75.
As we reported here back in May, Filipovic added a cage to his training facility after a vicious ground-and-pound by Gabriel Gonzaga left him blurry-eyed and ripe for a match-ending head kick back at UFC 70.
Now he looks to beef up the ranks of his sparring team with the addition of former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez (25-6).
Rodriguez was recently taken off an HCF fight card after being refused entry into Canada, according to Full Contact Fighter. No official reason was given, but I suspect environmental impact as the culprit.
Fans of UFC yesteryear may remember Rodriguez as a svelte competitor with world class jiu-jitsu and great hands.
What a difference a few years make.
I wasn't sure what Cro Cop had in mind in regard to Rodriguez, but then I remembered that training video where Sean Sherk was flipping over tractor tires to improve his strength and endurance.
Also enlisted was ruthless Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov (14-3).
Kharitonov is a dynamic fighter with deadly hands and excellent submissions. Despite poor showings against Overeem and Emelianenko, he does have (T)KO wins over Ninja Rua, Hightower Schilt and Pedro Rizzo.
Aside from the cage, which should have been an absolute must before the ink was even dry on his UFC contract, I don't know if these additions are necessary.
I think the Eddie Sanchez fight played a big part in the loss to Gonzaga. Had Sanchez actually taken it to him, perhaps Cro Cop would have been a little less complacent in his fight against Gonzaga.
Regardless, it looks like Cro Cop isn't taking any chances this time around.