On May 25, at Bellator 200, heavyweight MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic will make his debut in the Bellator cage opposite Roy Nelson. Interestingly, however, Cro Cop should still technically be banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after failing a drug test in his latest UFC run.
Cro Cop’s USADA two-year suspension was retroactive to November 9, 2015, which meant he should have been eligible to compete again by November of last year. Yet in July of 2016, his contract with the UFC was terminated, at which point he moved to the ring of Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation, which meant that a portion of his USADA suspension went unserved.
All this to say that Cro Cop is still technically in the midst of a USADA ban – and issue Bellator has side-stepped by having him fight at Bellator 200, which goes down in London, England, far outside the jurisdiction of USADA.
Regardless, Bellator president Scott Coker doesn’t think it’s fair that Bellator is receiving any flack for signing Cro Cop while a portion of his USADA suspension remains unserved.
“Look, Mirko fights in Rizin in Japan and USADA has a relationship with the UFC and they have the whole time,” Coker told MMANytt.
“Why didn’t they go after them two years ago when he fought for RIZIN? Why is this a question? Is this just popping up because he’s fighting for Bellator at our two hundredth event? If you wanted to take action, you should’ve taken action a long time ago.”
“When we booked him we didn’t even know there were going to be any issues. He’s already fighting so we thought he was going to be able to fight.”
For Coker, any issues with Cro Cop’s activity overseas should have been broached while he was fighting for Rizin in Japan – not now.
“Listen, USADA works with the UFC, they’re doing their own thing, so good for them, go do it. I just feel like the timing of it is, you know, it’s little bit questionable.”
“At the end of the day, if you really wanted to enforce it, you should’ve enforced it two years ago when Mirko fought in Japan.”
Do you think Cro Cop should be eligible to fight at Bellator 200 in London?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/12/2018.