Friday, February 2, 2007

Fighter-turned-politician makes UFC debut Saturday night in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (CP) - Crime fighter. Politician. And just plain fighter. Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic has already packed three lifetimes into his 32 years.

"One-man show," the Croatian hardman said dryly Friday.

On Saturday night, the mixed martial arts heavyweight-turned-politician will lay down the law instead of make it. Filipovic steps into the cage for the first time at UFC 67: All or Nothing (available on pay per view) to meet unbeaten American Eddie Sanchez. It's the first instalment in a lucrative six-fight, two-year contract that the UFC used to lure Filipovic away from Pride Fighting Championships, its Japanese rival.

His nickname Cro Cop is short for Croatian cop. Filipovic used to be a member of his country's elite anti-terrorism police unit, but had to quit when he was elected to parliament in 2003 to represent Zagreb. He says he may return to the force when his duties as a lawmaker conclude in November.

In the meantime, he is both politician and a fighter. So is he a fighter who's a politician or a politician who fights?

"Fighter who is politician," Filipovic, whose English is impeccable, said when asked.

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