Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cro Cop gets top billing at UFC's UK return

By Steve Sievert

Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic will take another step toward an inevitable title shot as the top draw at UFC 70 - Nations Collide, set for April 21 at MEN Arena in Manchester, England.

Cro Cop stalked and walked through his first UFC opponent, Eddie Sanchez, earlier this month at UFC 67. Gabriel Gonzaga is next in line for the Croatian star. On paper, Gonzaga offers more formidable opposition than Sanchez, but Cro Crop will still enter the bout as an overwhelming favorite.

The rumored UFC 70 bout between Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz didn't materialize. Instead, Griffin will face Ryoto Machida in a fight with huge implications in the light heavy division. Machida just beat Sam Hoger at UFC 67 and owns wins over a pair of former UFC champs in BJ Penn and Rich Franklin. He's also beaten K-1 superstar Michael McDonald. This fight has the potential to steal the show.

Andrei Arlovski and Michael Bisping are also on the card. "The Pitbull" draws recent Pride importee Fabricio Werdum, while Bisping takes on Elvis Sinosic, who hasn't been relevant in the Championship since 2001 ... seems like a ready-made opponent for Bisping to continue his UFC maturation in the front of the hometown blokes.

The Manchester show is the first in a series of UFC events planned for Europe, and organizers have already sold 5,000 tickets.


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