UFC Suspends First Fighter Under Strict New Drug Policy

UFC Octagon
Dan Flynn

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, the first man to submit Josh Barnett in mixed-martial arts and knock out Bob Sapp in kickboxing, became the first man suspended by the UFC under its new drug-testing regime administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The new rules mete out a two-year suspension for first-time drug offenders. UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said in unveiling the new policy earlier this year, “If you’re using drugs, you’re going to get caught.” The 41-year-old fighter got caught and, understanding time as his enemy, called it a career.

“The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has notified both Mirko Cro Cop and UFC that he has been provisionally suspended at this time due to a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation,” the UFC announced on Wednesday. “USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Cro Cop.”

The Croatian kickboxer preempted the UFC’s revelation by announcing his retirement. Cro Cop’s decision left out the failed drug test as the cause of his departure from the sport. Aside from obfuscating the reason for his retirement, the statement provided an excuse for why he resorted to banned substances.

“I tried to save a shoulder injury and repair in all possible ways: daily therapy, injections of blood plasma, and various cocktails of drugs but it didn’t work out,” Cro Cop noted. “The only cure would be a break of two to three weeks, and that I could not afford in the midst of final preparations.”

Cro Cop’s vicious, ambidextrous kicks made him one of the most feared mixed-martial artists in Japan, stopping Kazushi Sakuraba, Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett, and Wanderlei Silva through strikes. But his success in Pride’s ring did not translate to the UFC’s cage. A pedestrian Cro Cop showed up in the UFC lacking the explosiveness and trigger-happy quality he exhibited in Japan. He leaves the sport with a 5-6 UFC mark in three stints with the promotion and an overall record of 31-11-2.