It sounds like Mirko Cro Cop is back.
Rizin FF head Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced in an Instagram post Friday that the MMA heavyweight legend is planning to return to the sport for a few more fights in the Japan-based promotion.
“[Cro Cop] has decided to fight in front of his beloved Japanese fans a few more times before he retires,” Sakakibara wrote. “He would like to continue to face meaningful opponents until he hangs his gloves. Keep an eye out for Mirko's final chapter.”
RIZIN GP2016無差別級王者のミルコ選手が一年振りにRIZINのリングに帰還します。 引退までの残り数試合、最も愛する日本のファンの前で闘う事を決断しました。 最後まで勝負論の有る試合がしたいと言うのがミルコの希望です。 引退に向けて動き出すミルコの最終章に注目して下さい！ #mirkocrocop #RIZINFF #RIZIN2017 The RIZIN GP 2016 winner Mirko Crocop will be returning to the RIZIN ring after a year. He has decided to fight in front of his beloved Japanese fans a few more times before he retires. He would like to continue to face meaningful opponents until he hangs his gloves. Keep an eye out for Mirko's final chapter.
It is not yet clear at which event Cro Cop will make his return, but Rizin FF is hosting two cards in the last week of December. The women’s super atomweight and men’s bantamweight grand prix tournaments that kicked off earlier this year will be wrapped up at the two end-of-year events on Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 in Japan. One of the two events could also feature Cro Cop’s return bout.
Cro Cop (35-11-2, 1 NC) has had an exceptional run in Rizin FF. He won the heavyweight Grand Prix tournament last year with a submission win over Hyun Man Myung in the opening round and stoppages over Muhammed Lawal, Kaido Hoovelson, and Amir Aliakbari in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, respectively. Cro Cop’s last three wins all took place between Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, 2016.
Cro Cop has been a professional fighter since August 2001. Known for his vicious head kicks, the 43-year-old Croatian is a PRIDE FC, UFC and K-1 veteran.
His last UFC victory was in the UFC Fight Night 64 main event in April 2015. That was his first UFC fight since October 2011. He stopped Gabriel Gonzaga in a rematch by TKO.