Filipovic, or better known a Cro Cop, recently came out of retirement for a second time to compete at Rizin FF open-weight tournament that starts in September. Last week, Cro Cop posted a poster on his Facebook page promoting the tournament. That poster featured none other than both Emelianenko and Cro Cop. This sparked speculation in the MMA community of a possible remake of one of the most important heavyweight fights in MMA history.
Both Emelianenko and Cro Cop fought for the Pride FC heavyweight championship back in 2005 when both heavyweights were in their prime. That night, Emelianenko and Cro Cop put on one of the most exciting fights in heavyweight history, with Emelianenko outpointing Cro Cop, snapping a 7-fight-wining streak for Cro Cop.
Almost 11 years later, and with Cro Cop being released from the UFC and signed to Rizin and Emelianenko having competed for Rizin in December, it seems likely and it would make sense that a rematch between the two could come to fruition. However, the Croatian fighter isn't convinced he'll get a shot at redemption.
“They mentioned a few names, but I have no sense for anyone in particular,” Cro Cop told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. “But if you think Fedor, it wont be Fedor. There was a poster made with Fedor and my face, and it said, ‘Rizin opening round September 25’, but it's just kinda commercial, you know. I don't think Fedor will actually participate in the tournament.”
When asked if he would like to get a rematch with Emelianenko, the Croatian heavyweight didn't hesitate to express his desire for the rematch.
“Of course I would like [the opportunity to fight Fedor], but I don't think he will participate,” Cro Cop said. “That's my opinion. I didn't ask nobody and nobody has told me anything, but I don't think he'll participate in the tournament.”
Emelianenko last fought for Rizin in December, defeating Singh Jaideep via submission. Following that victory, ‘The Last Emperor’ went on to fight former UFC light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado at EFN 50 in Russia where he won a very controversial decision. The Russian 39-year-old heavyweight hasn't fought since and it still remains unclear where he'll compete next.
Regardless of whether Cro Cop will get that chance to redeem his loss against Emelianenko or not, Cro Cop is happy to be competing at Rizin, as it reminds him of better days.
“It was so nostalgic,” Cro Cop said. “I stayed in the same hotel that I stayed during my Pride FC career. It was really amazing, it was not so much about Sakakibara [Rizin CEO and former Pride FC president], it's about other people saying stuff from Pride days, it's like I returned 10 years in the past.”
The Rizin FF open weight tournament is composed of 16 competitors and it's set to begin on Sept. 25 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Dec. 29, and the semifinals and final are scheduled for Dec. 31. Only four competitors have been announced for the tournament, which include Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva, Kazuyuki Fujita, and Kaido Hoovelson.