RIZIN FF, the combat sports federation headed by former PRIDE Fighting Championships boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced at a press conference on Saturday that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (MMA: 31-11-1, 1 NC; Kickboxing: 23-8, 12 KO’s) will come out of retirement and return to Japan, where his legendary career was born, to compete in the 16-man, open weight “Grand Prix” tournament in Tokyo, starting on Sept. 25.
A former PRIDE and K-1 Grand Prix tournament champion, Filipovic earned his place as one of the greatest martial arts combatants in history with an elite set of striking skills that helped him earn the most first round finishes as well as the most head kick knockouts in PRIDE history.
It was also announced that 4 of the 16 Grand Prix participants, including superstar Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil, will receive a bye in the first stage, and automatically advance to the tournament’s second, or quarterfinal stage, which will take place on Thursday, Dec. 29, at a location to be announced.
Joining Sakakibara, Filipovic and Silva at the press conference were veteran warhorse Kazuyiki Fujita (15-11) of Funabashi, Chiba, Japan and former sumo wrestling champion turned MMA upstart Baruto Kaito (1-0) of Estonia, both of whom have been tabbed for battle in the first stage of the tournament.
The round of 16 match-ups will be announced at the end of the month.
In other, single-fight action on September 25, two striking sensations – Daron Cruickshank (17-8, 1 NC) and Andy Souwer (MMA: 1-0, Kickboxing: 159-19, 98 KO’s) – will collide in a lightweight affair.
Cruickshank of Wayne, Mich. is a ….View full article