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« | Home | »

In response to former manager, Mirko Cro Cop digs a deeper hole

By Zach Arnold | March 3, 2013

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By: Brian J. D’Souza

During the last year, there have been reports from a variety of news outlets and publications that have revealed shocking new details regarding the fall of PRIDE FC. In February 2012, the debut episode of Spike TV’s MMA Uncensored aired a segment with an interview conducted by veteran MMA journalist Dan Herbertson that showcased Miro Mijatovic—former manager of Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko. Mijatovic revealed how his extortion by the yakuza led to the criminal investigation that had PRIDE pulled off of Fuji TV in 2006. Rick Wallace of The Weekend Australian Magazine produced a general-interest feature about Mijatovic’s involvement in the fight game that was published on December 8, 2012. Prior to this, lawyer and anti-yakuza crusader Toshiro Igari’s final book, dealing with Mijatovic’s management of Cro Cop and Fedor, and Mijatovic’s criminal complaint against DSE’s yakuza owners, was published posthumously following Igari’s death in August 2010.

More recently, I published Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts, a book that chronicles the lives and careers of five men who I consider the greatest MMA fighters of all time, a list that includes Fedor Emelianenko. In order to promote the book, this week I did a two-part Q & A on Liverkick.com (Part 1, Part 2) with Miro Mijatovic where we discussed the career of Mirko Cro Cop.


Miro Mijatovic and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic smiling at a press conference before Cro Cop’s April 30, 2003 K-1 match against Bob Sapp

In response to Part 1, Mirko Cro Cop posted a long-winded rant on his Facebook page (full translation at the end of this article) in Croatian that attempted to minimize the role Miro Mijatovic played in his camp. Cro Cop’s post was subsequently republished in Vecernji list, one of Croatia’s two largest daily newspapers (Note that the Ve?ernji list article incorrectly identifies the Liverkick.com interviews as excerpts from Pound for Pound). Among Cro Cop’s claims:


Left to right: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Miro Mijatovic and Zvonimir Lucic watching Fedor Emelianenko-Heath Herring at PRIDE 23 on November 24, 2002

Mirko Cro Cop correctly remembers the date that he was first introduced to Miro Mijatovic, which was in March 2002. Cro Cop was at the Shinjuku Hilton in Tokyo, where he was awaiting his fight with Mark Hunt (Cro Cop won via decision) to occur at the 2002 K-1 Grand Prix in Nagoya. Croatian national football (soccer) team member Igor Cvitanovic made the introduction between Cro Cop, his then-manager Zvonimir Lucic and Miro Mijatovic. As Igor Cvitanovic was playing for Japanese club Shimizu S Pulse, he was good friends with Cro Cop, and they often traveled to Cro Cop’s fights together. Cvitanovic can be seen on-camera carrying Cro Cop’s bucket in ring walk-ins—so the idea that Cro Cop “forgot” who introduced him to Mijatovic is hard to believe.


Miro Mijatovic in the background, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in the foreground after Cro Cop’s August 10, 2003 win against Igor Vovchanchyn

Cro Cop himself provided evidence that Miro Mijatovic was, indeed, his manager when he published a letter on January 4, 2004 on the front page of Japanese sports newspaper Sankei Sports announcing the termination of Mijatovic as his manager. Furthermore, many internet articles dating from several years back consistently reference Miro Mijatovic as Mirko Cro Cop’s manager.

Far from being a groupie or hanger-on, Mijatovic had intimate knowledge of Mirko Cro Cop’s career, contracts, business affairs and other insider details. Beyond supplying information about Cro Cop’s trajectory from K-1 to PRIDE, Mijatovic recalled the small personal details that only an insider would pick up on. For instance, Cro Cop’s preference for American fast food—which could be ordered in English—as Cro Cop was a picky eater who did not like Japanese food.

Astute Croatian fans needed little time to pick apart Mirko Cro Cop’s claims that he barely knew Mijatovic. They found photo evidence of Mijatovic’s presence at Cro Cop’s fights, where he served as a manager from the fall of 2002 to January 2004, and began a spirited discussion of Cro Cop’s inconsistencies on various message boards.


News report of Mijatovic splitting from Cro Cop’s team as manager published in the April 2004 issue of Black Belt magazine

Considering all the evidence that shows that Mijatovic was Mirko Cro Cop’s manager, why is Cro Cop posting a flimsy-worded denial years later, in 2013?

Cro Cop’s Facebook post was intended to discredit Mijatovic, but the message inadvertently confirmed two things 1) There was yakuza involvement within K-1 and PRIDE and 2) Cro Cop refused to fight at Shockwave for $150,000, and only appeared on the show for $300,000. Did Cro Cop go out of his way to share the exact figures involved in his salary dispute with a groupie whose main duties supposedly involved ordering his sushi at restaurants?

Only an idiot can say that I agreed $150,000 and then when I arrived at the stadium and saw 100,000 people there that I then asked for $300,000. Firstly I’m not that crazy or that brave since they would have buried me in concrete in some Tokyo bay if I did that, the real truth is that when we negotiating that fight a few months before they offered me $130,000 and I wanted $150,000 and they didn’t accept it and so we said we’d talk later. After 3 weeks the Japanese call me and I tell them I got injured in training, which was the truth. I hurt my back wrestling and I was under therapy at Dr Bucan. He told me it wasn’t serious but I should rest for 2-3 weeks and I told the Japanese the doctor has ordered rest and that the promoters should find a replacement for me. They laughed and said ok ok we’ll pay you $150,000 but I tell them, you haven’t understood me, I’m in a lot of pain so my price is $300,000. They got really pissed off but they called me back the next day accepting.

The yakuza who allegedly would have buried Cro Cop in concrete in Tokyo Bay were prominent in K-1 and PRIDE. On January 4, 2004—the same day that Mirko published his termination letter to Mijatovic in Sankei Sports—members of yakuza Yamaguchi-gumi subgroups who owned PRIDE were threatening Miro Mijatovic at gunpoint in order to extort the rights to promote then-PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko from Mijatovic.

As for Cro Cop’s story of hurting his back? Cro Cop is fond of telling stories about hurting his back, as happened before Inoki-Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 (promoted by Miro Mijatovic), where Cro Cop was slated to face Japanese pro wrestler Takayama for a purse of $150,000. Cro Cop claimed that he’d hurt his back in December 2003, and was forced to pull out of the show. Cro Cop’s unreliability due to suffering such “back injuries” made him a headache for K-1 as it was a standard Cro Cop negotiation ploy to get more money once a bout had been announced by the promoter.

Part 2 of the Liverkick Q & A reveals details of the extreme favoritism Mirko Cro Cop received from PRIDE. This information is corroborated by Cro Cop’s opponents.

American Heath Herring, a well-regarded journeyman, was Mirko Cro Cop’s first opponent after Cro Cop made the switch to PRIDE full-time. For three months, Herring had been told by DSE that he was fighting a grappler.

“With the Cro Cop fight, for two weeks before it I had no idea I was fighting him. So when it happened I wasn’t ready mentally for the fight,” Herring later told MMAWeekly.com after losing via first round TKO to Cro Cop.

Cro Cop could also handpick easy opponents like Dos Caras Jr. Mirko did not select the Mexican wrestler outright; he just asked for a pushover, which was conducted for smaller fight money in the PRIDE “Bushido” league.

“I was supposed to fight someone else but he was injured and they asked me to fight Mirko,” a naive Caras explained of the match.

Caras, a pro wrestler who was then 3-3 in MMA, was head-kicked into unconsciousness in just 46 seconds. Perhaps if as much time had gone into Caras formulating his strategy as the debate over whether the Lucha Libre performer could wear his mask in the PRIDE ring, he would have lasted longer.

When Cro Cop transitioned to the UFC, just months after winning the 2006 PRIDE open weight Grand Prix—the pinnacle achievement of his career—he overcame easy opposition like Eddie Sanchez and Mostapha al-Turk, but faltered against stronger non-journeyman opponents. Cro Cop often made excuses about lingering injuries when he lost, and never truly performed up to the expectations of a former PRIDE champion.

It was in the UFC that Mirko’s unreliable nature surfaced yet again: scandal erupted after UFC 99 when Cro Cop reneged on a verbal agreement for a three-fight deal with UFC president Dana White to sign with DREAM; Cro Cop then pulled out of his DREAM 10 bout scheduled against Mighty Mo to face then-unheralded Junior dos Santos at UFC 103.

After Cro Cop’s UFC 99 bout with al-Turk, Dana White let it slip that Cro Cop had refused tougher opponents, saying “He turned down every other…fighter I offered him, because I needed him to fight Cain.”

Today, even in the twilight of his career, Mirko Cro Cop enjoys name-recognition and popularity in Croatia. It should be remembered that it was Miro Mijatovic who had the foresight business acumen to negotiate with the FEG and DSE brass in order to secure those broadcast rights to air Cro Cop’s fights in Croatia. With Mirko’s K-1 fight against Bob Sapp, his IBBY fight with Kazuyuki Fujita, as well as his PRIDE classics against Heath Herring, Igor Vovchanchyn and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira airing on Croatian television, the fervently nationalistic Southeastern European nation discovered a new sports hero.

People need sports heroes. But if there’s anything to be learned from the cases of O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong or even K-1 stars like Badr Hari, sports heroes aren’t necessarily the most trustworthy sources of information. This is doubly true when said athletes are asked to comment on the cases where they acted in a selfish, dishonorable, self-serving or criminal manner.

If Oscar de La Hoya can admit to being a cross-dressing, cocaine-binging, alcoholic sex fiend or Lance Armstrong can admit to doping, then certainly Mirko Cro Cop can acknowledge kicking the man who essentially saved his career during perilous times in Japan to the curb for a fistful of dollars. It’s unlikely that Cro Cop would release a statement acknowledging the truth, as he dislikes doing media and prefers the much more favorable view that the public takes of him and his career that bloomed in the vacuum of information he created. But if Cro Cop were able to take such a stance, it would be an action more courageous than any opponent he has faced in the ring.

FULL TRANSLATION OF MIRKO CRO COP’S FACEBOOK POST HERE:

Hi Guys, a few words from me since I haven’t said much lately. My preparations are almost finished and everything is done as planned, my condition is excellent and I’m waiting for 15/3 to see what god gives. Stipe Glavica told me about an article on the net in which Miro Mijatovic mentions me and talks about my psychological profile and in some parts slanders me and talks nonsense and makes up stuff. Unfortunately I have to respond because that man is talking idiocy and falsehoods that not even a dog would eat with butter. I’ve said many times that those who want to promote themselves should do so with their results and successes and not call out people for something that is nonsense just so that they can read their names in print, it’s really sad. I’m writing this for people who respect means follow my career cause I can’t let some Idiot Attack me with unprovoked falsehoods and mud. I met that Mijatovic in the beginning of 2002 and I can’t remember who introduced us but he started to offer his services cause he lived in Japan and spoke excellent Japanese but I refused his offer because my mother didn’t nurse me with ink so that I’d need some representative who would “negotiate” for me and of course something for himself and as for his “Successful” advocacy and management all he did was wait for me the lobbies of hotels before each fight and then after the fights he’d try to hang around with us. so I have to acknowledge that he was very useful for us to order food at Japanese restaurants cause he spoke Japanese and that’s all he did. Then he started to put himself with Fedor and they eventually fucked him off as well and now he wants to talk about some stories about “insider” information. I’m shocked, if Stipe didn’t tell me about this story I would never even have thought of this man. Only an idiot can say that I agreed $150,000 and then when I arrived at the stadium and saw 100,000 people there that I then asked for $300,000. Firstly I’m not that crazy or that brave since they would have buried me in concrete in some Tokyo bay if I did that, the real truth is that when we negotiating that fight a few months before they offered me $130,000 and I wanted $150,000 and they didn’t accept it and so we said we’d talk later. After 3 weeks the Japanese call me and I tell them I got injured in training, which was the truth. I hurt my back wrestling and I was under therapy at Dr Bucan. He told me it wasn’t serious but I should rest for 2-3 weeks and I told the Japanese the doctor has ordered rest and that the promoters should find a replacement for me. They laughed and said ok ok we’ll pay you $150,000 but I tell them, you haven’t understood me, I’m in a lot of pain so my price is $300,000. They got really pissed off but they called me back the next day accepting. And now this has turned into a story that I arrived at the stadium saw it full of people and then I disrespected people which is total stupidity of an idiot. Like everything else he said. But if that makes him happy or if he gets some benefit from this then good on him

***

Read more untold stories about Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko and the fall of PRIDE in Brian J. D’Souza’s new book Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts.

Topics: Japan, K-1, MMA, Media, PRIDE | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “In response to former manager, Mirko Cro Cop digs a deeper hole”

  1. Croatian Sensation says:

    Love Mirko’s quaint peasant way of talking – dogs eating butter and being nursed on ink

    As some legends said on the Croatian boards -

    - mirko signed contracts in breast milk; so they go off after a while

    - Mijatovic by unanimous decision

    - mirko sounds smarter the less he opens his mouth

    I’d love to know why Mirko makes such dumbarse and easily dis provable lies about Mijatovic – maybe Mijatovic has a few more pearlers for him

  2. Mike says:

    Croatia is in Southern Europe. Its coastline is on the Adriatic Sea.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    This really does give even more truth to the phrase…

    PRIDE NEVER DIE!!

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Zach,

    Can you believe Jeremy Stephens just signed a new 4 fight contract with the UFC?

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    Rumors circulating right now that the UFC is going to announce a NYC card for later in the year…. And the main event could be Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva….

    Personally, I have never been a huge fan of “champion vs. champion” fights…. And if they still plan on doing Silva/Weidman…. They might not want to because Weidman would likely beat Silva and ruin the plans. Sonnen/Jones won’t be ruining any plans.

    • The Gaijin says:

      http://fightlinker.com/cross-your-fingers-for-anderson-silva-vs-jon-jones-in-november/

      Fightlinker posted a rumour on this like a week ago and it quoted source material from Middle Easy…as well as an off hand remark from DFW.

      “Brazil’s SportTV talked to Anderson Silva’s agent, Jorge Guimarães (a really cool guy, by the way) and he said although nothing is confirmed, Silva vs. Jones is on the horizon. Anderson Silva also believes the fight shouldn’t be for the belt (hence the catchweight). Jorge also confirmed that Anderson Silva will defend his title this Summer and a Jones/Silva superfight could happen later in the year, preferably in New York and only at a catchweight of 87kgs (which comes out to about 190 lbs).”

      So take it with a boulder of salt.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        If the UFC comes to MSG…. I will be buying the cheapest seats possible just to be live at the historic event.

        I’ve actually never been to MSG.

        • The Gaijin says:

          “I’ve actually never been to MSG.”

          GTFO!!! WHAT!?!? You live in NY man!

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I live less then 3 hours from it and have never been. I have been to the old/new Yankee Stadium over a dozen times. But never to MSG….

  6. Alan Conceicao says:

    Why is the “Cro-Cop is leaving to sign with DREAM, he screwed me” talking point coming out here when it has been established long ago to be a lie?

  7. RST says:

    Thats funny about always having to negotiate with CroCops back

    But when the people you’re working for are that corrupt,
    is it really unreasonable to deal with them the same way?

    That only seems like speaking the same language

    “”He turned down every other … fighter I offered him, because I needed him to fight Cain,” White said. “He didn’t just poke Al-Turk; he poked me, too.”"

    I wouldn’t really call that letting it slip

    Looks more like dana throwing a tantrum to the press after he didn’t get his way as usual

    And honestly I dont have a problem with CroCop prefering an warmup opponent for his first ufc fight

    If a guy is coming in with valuable rep and potential already established, he should be allowed to get acclimated to the new rules and culture of the organization

    At least for 1 fight

    Thats why the Gustaffson/Gegard fight is shiesty IMO
    (They’re trying to lower Gegards value and make SF look weaker then ufc, which is unnecessary)

    I could see an argument that if they were paying him so much that they should expect more then him just squashing a clubber

    But then dana should have made that part of the deal before paying him

    CroCop has been in Japan dealing with the same slicksters who ran circles around dana’s 3rd grade level schemes all those years

    BTW: Pound for Pound looks like a great read!

    I’m going to have to get that

    • 45 Huddle says:

      They have certainly given the majority of the Strikeforce fighters their fair shake when coming into the UFC. They have sent very few guys to the wolves…. And have matched them up in winnable fights.

      Mousasi being fed to Gustaffson does make sense for a few reasons.

      1) Test Gustaffson’s striking ability before he gets a title shot.

      2) Mousasi probably makes too much to be brought along alowly.

      3) Mousasi belongs at Middleweight, and what better way to force him down then to give him one of the biggest Light Heavyweights in the UFC.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Agreed – they have given guys, for the most part, very fair fights coming back.

        Werdum vs. Nelson
        Lombard vs. Boetsch
        Shields vs. Kampmann
        Lavar vs. Beltran
        Del Rossario vs. Miocic

        Upcoming: Jacare vs. Phillippou, Cormier vs. Mir, Rockhold vs. Belfort.

        The only guys that got “thrown to the wolves” were champs or guys with huge contracts that they weren’t going to risk against B-level guys, e.g. Overeem, Diaz, Henderson. Mousassi makes like $125k per fight, he’s gotta fight a top guy right away…no more Mike Kyles of the world.

        I’d say the one guy I can think of that got somewhat screwed was Bigfoot when they had him schedule to fight Nelson and then gave him Cain.

        • nottheface says:

          I think Del Rossario/Miocic was a pretty tough challenge for a guy coming back from a life threatening car accident.

          Kennedy/Gracie almost feels as if they’re trying to guarantee that they can cut one of them. Strange, because I know they both make more than most fighters,but they also are two fighters that have very promotable back stories, unlike almost everyone else.

        • The Gaijin says:

          You’re right re. SDR – I had forgotten that was his first fight back. Pretty tough one actually…then again they gave him Pat Berry his next fight and he stupidly tried to stand and bang with him. Given that he showed fight IQ in taking Lavar Johnson down and tapping him, I have no idea why he was trading with HD Berry.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Yeah, I took a double take on the Gracie/Kennedy fight. A very weird fight to make.

          Speaking of fighter IQ… Stefan Struve has to have one of the worst Fight IQ’s around. He was in dominant positions and he would go for armbars that landed him right on his back. I think it is one of the most underestimated talking points in all of MMA.

        • The Gaijin says:

          The fact that Struve is said to be among the best grapplers at HW and was getting reversed by Hunt makes me shake my head. His grappling skills may be very high, but his fight IQ is next to the worst I have ever seen.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC on FUEL TV 8 set a new record and did 485,000 viewers. Post show even did 219,000 viewers.

    I’ve said in the past that for Fuel TV to be worth it as the UFC’s 3rd tier live event option, that it needed to pull in 500,000 per show. Pretty shocking that it already hit that mark.

    The reason why I find it shocking is because Comcast hasn’t fully added the channel yet to most of it’s subscribers. The numbers would have probably been closer to 750,000+ if Comcast was fully on board.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      http://www.fastcompany.com/3006597/fast-feed/rupert-murdoch-launch-fox-sports-1-competitor-espn?utm_source=twitter

      Also, the rumor is that FOX Sports 1 will feature at least some NFL & MLB Games. Obviously the regular FOX Channel will still have the vast majority of the NFL & MLB games. But if they can make fans aware of FOX Sports 1 & 2 through Football & Baseball…. It will solve the ratings problems instantly. And it is probably why Dana White is so happy about the change of channels.

      • Steve4192 says:

        My biggest hope for the switch to Fox Sports 1 & 2 is that Fox can strong-arm the cable providers to make FS2 part of the basic cable package rather than on a sports tier. Having an HD channel for FS2 would also be nice.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Sweet.

      I was actually one of those new viewers. I finally broke down and paid for the Time Warner’s sports package just to get FUEL. This was the first FUEL card I have watched live (I had been been downloading them to watch on Sunday mornings).

  9. Josh says:

    What an ODD retort, if Crocop’s ex manager had an opinion or his version of facts in his time with you certainly Mirko has a right to share his version. It’s just plain BIZARRE (from one journalist to another) for you to defend one side and bash the other. You make yourself sound non-credible.

    • Dave says:

      I think that it has more to do with there being an overwhelming amount of evidence to back up Miro’s claims and none to back up Mirko’s.

  10. White Ninja says:

    Member of Parliament and ex Special Forces Commando, Mirko Filipovic lying? dishonourable? No it cant be; our cartoon character superheros have feet of clay?

    It doesnt surprise me that fighters and their managers had disagreements and betrayals and whatever, but, in Crocop’s case, his image of a super hero, honourable, special forces warrior doesnt meet the reality of his personality and his kowtowing to and aligning himself with the yakuza; finally crying on Sakakibara’s shoulder when he got his gold belt for beating Minowa, a past it Yoshida, Wandy and that weird “fight” with Josh

    Why make such a dumbarse rebuttal of Mijatovic when its so easy to disprove – Mirko’s even quoted on Fedor’s official site on the topic –

    Choro: That was good, then. Mirko ‘Crocop’ Filipovic said “I cannot imagine nor understand that Mr. Miro Mijatovic, as my manager, concluded an agency agreement with Fedor with whom I plan to fight in the near future.” What do you think about this?
    Fedor: I don’t know what Mirko says, but I think there is no problem even if Mr. Miro manages a number of fighters. On the contrary, I cannot understand why this issue becomes a problem.
    Choro: In the meantime, how do you think about Mr. Mijatovic?
    Fedor: He is a very nice man. Although I have worked with him for a short period only, I enjoy working with him very much and I am highly satisfied.
    http://efedor.ru/index_eng.shtml?id=37

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