TEMECULA, Calif. -- Scott Coker went to Japan for New Year's with hopes of luring Fedor Emelianenko out of retirement, among other things. Instead, he might have found another Eastern European MMA legend for Bellator MMA.
Coker said Friday night after Bellator 132 at Pechanga Resort & Casino that Bellator officials have spoken with Mirko Cro Cop about signing with the organization. Cro Cop is one of the most well-known fighters of all time, famous for his devastating head kick knockouts in PRIDE.
"We had several conversations, but I'm not sure to what extent he's ready to come to America and fight," Coker said. "But we've had some conversations."
Cro Cop, 40, defeated Satoshi Ishii via knockout with his patented left head kick and punches in the second round of their fight at Inoki Boom-Ba-Ye 2014 on Dec. 31 in Tokyo. The Croatian superstar is the current Inoki Genome Federation champion and has won three of his last four MMA fights, all in Japan.
Coker said Bellator is "definitely" interested in bringing Cro Cop into the fold.
"If you saw how good he looked in Japan, it was pretty impressive," Coker said. "We're going to continue and see how things go, but these things take time sometimes. We'll see."
Cro Cop (30-11-2, 1 NC) also won a unanimous decision over Jarrell Miller in a Glory kickboxing match in June. Both Bellator and Glory air on Spike TV and have a good working relationship. Cro Cop remains wildly popular in the United States and across the world. The kickboxing specialist is also a former K-1 Grand Prix winner.
The former 2006 PRIDE open weight grand prix winner was cut by the UFC in 2011 after getting knocked out in three straight bouts by Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub and Frank Mir. His lone wins in the organization were against Pat Barry, Anthony Perosh, Mostapha Al Turk and Eddie Sanchez. Cro Cop was never the same in the UFC after Gabriel Gonzaga knocked him out with a head kick in 2007.
But in many ways, Cro Cop fits in with what Bellator wants to do, which is create buzz and produce ratings. This week, the promotion signed Kimbo Slice and Coker has said he is in talks with former WWE star Alberto Del Rio. Cro Cop is far more accomplished in MMA than both of those men combined, though past his prime.
"Anyone who has been to a Kimbo Slice fight has felt a thick, electric, tension in the air," Coker said in a statement Friday. "The man has a proven knack for evoking excitement every time he steps inside a cage and that fits perfectly with the kind of fights we aim to put together."
The same goes for a guy like Cro Cop.