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UFC 99 aftermath: Ken Imai’s magic with Mirko Cro Cop

By Zach Arnold | June 13, 2009

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Dana White’s stance against one-fight deals has proved prescient. He gave in this one time to Mirko Cro Cop and agent Ken Imai and got bit in return. Mirko’s headed back to Japan.

Give credit to Ken Imai — he took his client, who had little or no leverage in the MMA marketplace, and Team Mirko managed to work over Dana White beautifully. He got his one fight against a relatively ‘safe’ opponent and now will cash in with a new deal with DREAM.

“Isn’t that a dirty [expletive] thing to do?” White asked rhetorically after being queried about Filipovic’s deal with DREAM. “He [expletived] me. The first time in the history of the company I do one over the phone. He promised me a three-fight deal and he [expletived] me.”

No, Dana, Mirko didn’t screw you over. Ken Imai didn’t screw you over. They played you like a fiddle, but they didn’t screw you over. You gave them an opening, they took advantage of it like anyone would in this cutthroat business, and they turned it into something bigger and better.

So I guess we should be ready for Dana White playing the victim here and talking about how he got screwed over, hoping that we forget about all the other past incidents with talent including Jon Fitch over video game rights and John Hackleman over whether or not UFC should force Chuck Liddell into retirement.

As for Mirko saying one thing and doing another to Dana’s face… well, take a look at Mirko’s past history in the fight business and how he handled his deal with power agent Miro Mijatovic before joining Ken Imai and Sakakibara in PRIDE. No surprises there. Dana made a one-fight deal with the devil and the devil acted like the devil does.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 74 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

74 Responses to “UFC 99 aftermath: Ken Imai’s magic with Mirko Cro Cop”

  1. Fluyid says:

    Wow, I never would have believed that Mercer could win. Too bad for Sylvia. I don’t know the guy well at all, but I’ve spoken to him a few times and he’s always been pleasant enough to me.

    Hey, now that I think about it, Mercer took out Sylvia more convincingly than Fedor.

    Mercer > Fedor!!

  2. Alan Conceicao says:

    I do have to say one additional thing after waking up. Its pretty obvious DREAM wants to put on Cro-Cop/Fedor II. Its been talked about since mid 2008, but timing never came together for it. If Cro-Cop does fight Fedor, it puts some holes in the “he doesn’t want to fight legit guys” argument real quick. Of course, he won’t have earned it and will have no chance of winning, but that’s minor compared to the money and interest it can generate for them. Besides, everyone here would still watch.

  3. Zeppelin says:

    Sylvia – Arlovski 4, anyone?

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Fluyid,

    You are almost correct….

    TUF>Kimbo>Mercer>Fedor

    You should know by now that TUF Rules all. I am convinced that the MMA Fans are a self destructive bunch. They look to talk bad about MMA any chance they get.

    And really, this debate of boxing vs. MMA…. Nothing is really solved until a high level boxer makes a complete career shift and not just one fight here and there after his prime is over.

    And most likely, we will find out that boxing is just like all the other disciplines, which is:

    1. It depends on the fighter doing it. Some fighters skills will translate over better then others. The weight class might make a big difference too.

    2. Boxing is just as an important art form as BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, Muay Thai, Karate, and everything else. No one style rules all, which is what some people are trying to say when they say boxing is better then MMA.

  5. Mark says:

    I can’t believe people are making such a big deal about Mercer beating Sylvia. Sylvia coming in so out of shape told you everything you needed to know about the fight. He didn’t take it seriously, he thought he was going to walk in and let his reach advantage beat the old man. But Mercer did take it seriously, came in in as good shape as a 47 year old could be and had a “nothing to lose, everything to gain” attitude and that can be the deciding factor. This doesn’t mean boxing > MMA. It means Mercer > a fat guy with no desire.

    45, so what if people online are cynical about all things MMA? It’s the freakin’ internet: the land of the cynical haters. Just because everything you write sounds like you’re on the Zuffa payroll doesn’t mean everybody else has to be. It doesn’t matter if Dana has good intentions in every action he does or not, he’s an authoritarian figure with a big mouth and people automatically hate that.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    There is logically based negativity on the internet. I understand that is how the internet can be. MMA, much like Pro Wrestling, is a very different ball of wax.

    I see many people just bash the sport all day. They put down the fighters, put down the UFC, and are now talking about how great boxing is compared to MMA. If people hate it so much, then we even come on the websites? Why even follow the sport? That makes no sense.

    Take something like politics. People being negative online aren’t typically bashing democracy or what the US Stands for. They are bashing ideological differences on specific topic or amongst party lines. But they typically still love the country. So having a heated debate makes sense.

    I don’t support everything the UFC does. But there are too many people who just appear to spend too much time just bashing this sport and really never discussing the positives. UFC 99 was a solid event…. But I would have never known that by people’s comments or by listening to such shows as Beatdown After The Bell….

  7. Mr. Mike says:

    Hooray for Mr. Philopovic!

    FIghters are exploited by promoters and, this fighter deciuded to do some exploiting himself. Capitalists like Dana White claim to love competition and, the free market, but it’s more like “free market for me and, not for thee!

    Dana White scorned? The only thing hurt was his pride!

  8. Alan Conceicao says:

    I haven’t seen any boxing fans online cheering about the Mercer win, but I do admit its funny to see a guy that was a top 15 MMA heavyweight getting blown away in 10 seconds by a fat, old, second-tier-in-his-prime heavyweight. It almost makes me want to start a socko just to laugh about it to all the MMA fans who endlessly talked about how boxers would be noncompetitive in MMA.

  9. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Wasn’t this fight the last fight on his previous contract? Nothing lost here, no one fight deal. If the quid pro quo for getting that last fight on the existing contract was a new 3 fight deal and they didn’t do it…it’s poisoning the well, but they had every right to it.

  10. Alan Conceicao says:

    Wasn’t this fight the last fight on his previous contract?

    No. The UFC released him from his last contract and he fought three times in Japan. This was a one fight deal according to everyone, including the visibly shook Dana White.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    Alan,

    The people who say boxers would be non-competitive are just as foolish as the people who say boxers would dominate. It is very likely somewhere in the middle depending on the athlete. And either way, the boxer would have be more of a complete fighter to be able to go to the top.

    Also, Heavyweights in both boxing and MMA aren’t exactly at the same level as their smaller counterparts. So people using them as examples is comical. Just look at guys like Gonzaga, Herring, Kongo, Monson, Sylvia, and many others…. They have gigantic holes in their game and yet are all Top 20. Then again, Evander Holyfield is ranked #25 on Box Rec, and that guy is horrible now.

  12. Alan Conceicao says:

    Its really more towards the MMA guys dominating. Look, if a boxer doesn’t train to defend takedowns, all he has is a punchers chance. Mercer got the one in a million punch that will probably keep MMA promoters from booking Hasim Rahman for a few years.

    As for the Boxrec rankings, Commander ‘Vander is there not because anyone legit thinks he’s a top 15 guy. Its totally computerized. As long as he fights top fighters (which he does) and goes the distance, he’ll get to stay in the top 50.

  13. Mark says:

    And also Holyfield got screwed out of the WBA heavyweight title when he clearly beat Valuev. I know Valuev isn’t good either, but he does win so that unofficial victory should count for something.

  14. Mark says:

    You’re reading too much into fan-hate. If spending time online reading MMA blog feedbacks and forums tells you anything, it’s that MMA fans are crabby assholes. Miserable SOBs, if you will. They love arguing for the sake of arguing. Whether it’s spending time bickering over who has watched MMA the longest, whether you’re a real MMA fan if you still like pro wrestling, whether you’re allowed to give your opinion on MMA if you don’t take martial arts training, whether you’re a real MMA fan if you only watch UFC. They’re all pricks for the sake of being pricks. It’s like they think the more they act like an asshole the bigger authority on MMA that makes them. So I take everything said online with the grain of salt.

    Online MMA fans are like indie rock fans: they challenge each other to raise the stakes of elitism as a hobby, and anything popular is automatically bad. If DREAM replaced UFC in America they’d hate that too.

    I dislike a ton of things about Dana and the UFC, but I have my reasons and don’t hate for hates sake.

  15. mdhan says:

    Gryphon had a blog entry on May 23 regarding rumors about Crocop’s UFC deal being an “atypical” one. Maybe this has something to do with him bolting to DREAM. I guess only time will tell.

    “One more news
    this is from Kamipro move(handiphone only news site)

    “ordinary contract to UFC is domination contrast.but Mirko’s contract will be special…(He can fight japanese promotion too?)”

    This news is from Ken IMAI too

    http://www.nikkansports.com/battle/news/p-bt-tp0-20090522-497429.html

  16. Shane says:

    Some quotes this past week from Mirko. Keep in mind he had already signed a 3 fight contract with Dream beforehand and had no intention of fighting in the UFC after the Al-Turk fight:

    “The UFC was the black spot in my career and my life,” he told a conference call Tuesday. “And I’m the man who dedicates his life to fighting. I just want to justify the trust that (UFC president) Dana White gave me two years ago, calling me to the UFC after I went from Pride.”

    “I have maybe the strongest and best motivation,” he added. “I just want to return on the top. I just want to prove everyone that they were wrong . . . I was never motivated like this (before in my career).”

    “As Dana explained, we talked just on the phone, we didn’t meet,” Cro Cop said. “But this is definitely not my last fight in the UFC. You have my word for it.”

    “I think I owe a lot to the UFC and to UFC fans”

    Lying to Dana is one thing… but to fans?

  17. spacedog says:

    So maybe Cro Cop has not signed with Dream.

    http://jutarnji.hr/sport/borilacki_sportovi/clanak/art-2009,6,14,,166592.jl

    More to the story than meets the eye.

  18. spacedog says:

    Ok sorry, does any one have a link to a Croat translation?
    Sherdog forums are saying that the above linked interview states that CC did not sign w/ Dream and that he will still work with the UFC.

  19. Ivan Trembow says:

    “From what I read of the champion’s clause, it’s not an eternal loop like so many believe (I blame Fedor’s comments). It specifically states that at the end of the contracted terms, if you’re the champion, it extends for one year/3 fights. The extension itself can’t be looped in perpetuity, it’s a one and done deal.”

    Not true. If it was a one and done deal, Randy Couture would have been free and clear one year after his last UFC fight, and he wasn’t as far as the UFC was concerned.

    “The UFC lawyers aren’t dumb, in fact Zuffa probably hired guys out of ivy league law schools, and the fact that you think you know law better than them is laughable.”

    You’re right. They’re not dumb. They realize that it’s very unlikely that anyone is going to go through 18-to-24 months of legal fees to complete an entire case. And they wouldn’t want it to ever go that far, which is why they were eager to settle out of court with Randy Couture and why they were eager to settle out of court with B.J. Penn before him.

  20. Kilmer says:

    Not the best of translations, but here’s what Google translator makes of this article: http://jutarnji.hr/sport/borilacki_sportovi/clanak/art-2009,6,14,,166592.jl

    “President of UFC’s Dana White was unfairly accused Mirko Filipovic for treason

    ZAGREB – The same Saturday night in which Mirko Filipovi? for only three minutes nokautirao Britain Mostapha Al Turk, President of American Organization UFC Dana White neargumentirano has accused the Croatian master free fight for the fraud and hypocrisy.

    Cro Cop izigrao UFC and goes in a Dream?

    Ten days ago Dana White and Cro Cop have a phone made arrangements for the duel on the UFC 99 tournament in kölnskoj Lanxess Arena, leaving open the possibility that cooperation produlji the two tournaments. However, the head of the UFC on Saturday felt circumvented because it is thought that the Croatian gladiator signed a contract with the Japanese Dream.

    more of the fields
    Combat Sports
    – Mirko talks about honor and pride, and not held by his word. Told me that he wants to win the UFC’s title, only to then went to the Dream. And tonight I got a fly in the ointment, not only Al Turk – told reporters in the White Cologne.

    Before you accuse Filipovi?a for hypocrisy, zagreb Whiteovih below empty phrase of honor. UFC leader is angry because Mirko, just as even the best ultimate fighter world; Fyodor Jemjeljanjenko, did not agree to commit two more appearances in the following year.

    However, it is not true or that Cro Cop priklonio Dream. Learned that it is not signed, nor for whom, and that it is ready to discuss any offer. Moreover, Mirko is immediately after the victory kölnske expected conversation with Whiteom and surprised the charges UFC’s president.

    – I’m not clear why the White nasjeo on rumors instead of talking with me. I was hoping that we will talk about the continuation of cooperation, because the only contentious item for a long period between performances. I do not want to sit for months at home and wait for that someone called me to fight. However, I am grateful for the opportunity Whiteu in Cologne and in spite of his heavy words, I do not see reason to not produljimo agreement – explained Mirko after returning from Germany.

    White is Cro Copa invited to fight in Cologne in order to use his charisma most popular European fighter, and had proposed two more match, with the condition that should not be fighting under other flags. ” Since the Dream also offers three fights, but in only six months, do you wonder what is Mirko still considering both offers?

    Outcome of this story can be expected in the coming days. Given the loss of Whiteov in Cologne, it seems that Mirko zasad ring closer to the Japanese than American octagon.”

  21. spacedog says:

    here’s another translation.

    So ZA, are you going to put an update at the top of the page or do you just prefer the drama of CC fucking UFC over actually finding accurate data?
    The blogs went nuts with this whole thing but seem rather slower with the back track.

    http://www.mmascraps.net/2009/06/mirko-crocop-denies-signing-with-dream.html

  22. jdavis says:

    Sergio Non if USAtoday has confirmed with Dream that Cro Cop signed with them. So now we have the UFC saying Cro Cop signed with Dream, Dream saying Cro Cop signed with Dream and Cro Cop saying he hasn’t signed with anyone. The story gets stranger and stranger.

    “The news was later confirmed to me in an e-mail from Mike Kogan, who runs the U.S. operation of Dream’s parent company, Fighting and Entertainment Group.”

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/mma/post/2009/06/68081121/1

  23. […] doing a sportstalk show. On the flip side, Fight Opinion’s Zack Arnold said White had what was coming to him. If he expects fighters to sign deals where they can be cut at any point (similar to the NFL) and […]

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