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Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic returns at UFC 99 to face Mustapha Al-Turk

Pride FC 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix winner Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (24-6-2) — who is on a speedy recovery from knee surgery following his technical knockout win over Hong Man Choi at Field’s Dynamite!! on New Year’s Eve — announced a possible return to the UFC this afternoon against Mustapha Al-Turk on June 13 from the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.

From the Croat’s official blog:

I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division. My next opponent will be Mustapha Al-Turk. I didn’t do well in my first three appearances - I wasn’t myself. By returning to the cage I want to prove that I can still fight at highest level, no matter when or where. It’s hard to talk about concrete plans, but I would really like to fight at least three times this year. I wish to fight against quality opponents and to fight my way up to a title shot but for now, I’ll focus only on my next fight and after that we’ll see what’s going to be on the menu next. I want to say thank you Mr. Dana White for your interest and for an invitation back to the UFC. I owe you a lot from our first deal, and I’ll make it up to you.

The Croatian striker had fallen on hard times since his tournament-winning performance over two years ago, losing two of five fights and looking listless in the process. He started things off with a bang, stopping Eddie Sanchez in his UFC debut, but a highlight reel knockout loss to Gabriel Gonzaga and a rib-crushing defeat to Cheick Kongo put his UFC career on ice.

Cro Cop vowed to one day return and finish what he started (and few believed him). Now he looks to make good on that promise with one last run at heavyweight glory.

After two wins in Dream (and a no contest with bitter rival Alistair Overeem), the former Croatian Cop elected to have knee surgery to correct a nagging injury and now declares that he is free of the physical and mental distractions that have plagued him over the past few years.

And a dominating performance over Al-Turk would go a long way to prove it.

Al Turk — who was originally slated to face undefeated American Top Team (ATT) heavyweight Todd Duffee, fights out of the famous London Shoot gym in the United Kingdom.

He came up short in his debut against Cheick Kongo at UFC 92 after a successful run in Europe on the Cage Rage circuit. In fact, he has six wins in seven attempts for the promotion and was riding a two-fight win streak before getting dismantled at "The Ultimate 2008″.

He is a pretty well-rounded fighter with serviceable boxing and solid grappling skills -– good enough to earn him the British Cage Rage heavyweight title.

UFC 99 will be headlined by former middleweight champion Rich "Ace" Franklin taking on ex-PRIDE smashing machine Wanderlei Silva in his middleweight debut. Heath Herring and Cain Velasquez as well as Mike Swick and Ben Saunders are also expected to hook ‘em up.

For more on UFC 99 click here.

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