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Monday, January 01, 2007
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Confirms Signing of Mirko Cro Cop; A Look at the Heavyweight & Light Heavyweight Title Pictures
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
As previously reported by MMAWeekly.com's Ken Pishna, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic has signed with the UFC, and this news was officially confirmed at the UFC 66 event on Saturday night.
Cro Cop will make his UFC debut against Eddie Sanchez at UFC 67 on February 3rd. Cro Cop is the #2 Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, behind only Fedor Emelianenko.
A commercial for UFC 67 aired several times during the UFC 66 pay-per-view broadcast and also on the big screens at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cro Cop's name got somewhat of a lukewarm reaction from the live crowd in Las Vegas, indicating that many of the UFC fans in attendance do not know who he is.
The expectation of this kind of response from casual MMA fans is primary reason for not giving Cro Cop an immediate title shot in the UFC. If Cro Cop has one fight in the UFC and beats Sanchez, far more UFC fans will be familiar with and interested in Cro Cop headed into a potential UFC Heavyweight Title match.
Brandon Vera had been scheduled to get the next shot at UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, but that fight will only happen if Vera signs a multi-fight contract extension with the UFC (Vera currently has one fight left on his UFC contract).
Vera recently made an appearance at the introductory press conference of the Showtime-backed Elite XC promotion, where he told the Los Angeles Times that he wants his next contract to be with "whoever wants to take care of me the best."
The commercial for UFC 67 also prominently featured Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, the #8 Light Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings. Jackson will be making his UFC debut at UFC 67 against Marvin Eastman.
The next shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Title had been tentatively slated to go to Forrest Griffin if he defeated Keith Jardine at UFC 66, but Griffin's loss to Jardine throws a monkey wrench into those plans.
With Jardine defeating Griffin by TKO, the next shot at Chuck Liddell's UFC Light Heavyweight Title would seem to be most likely to belong to Jackson if he is able to beat Eastman on February 3rd, but it could also conceivably go to Jardine.
After his second TKO loss to Liddell, Tito Ortiz would not appear to be in the UFC Light Heavyweight Title picture for now. However, a rematch between Ortiz and Griffin would still be highly marketable, and Ortiz has already laid the marketing groundwork in recent days and weeks for a potential fight against Renato "Babalu" Sobral, whom Ortiz has repeatedly referred to as a "B-level fighter."
The UFC has also confirmed previous MMAWeekly.com reports that Heath Herring has signed with the UFC and will be fighting Jake O'Brien at UFC Fight Night on January 25th in a battle of heavyweight contenders.