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UFC brings back MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The master of the left head kick is coming back to the UFC.

Mirko Cro Cop, a legendary knockout artist from his days in PRIDE, has been re-signed by the UFC after four years away. UFC president Dana White confirmed the news with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani. It was initially reported on Twitter by journalist John Joe O'Regan.

Cro Cop, 40, didn't have a great first run with the UFC. Actually, it wouldn't be unfair to call it disappointing given all the hype behind him coming from PRIDE. The Croatian went 4-6 under the UFC banner from 2007 to 2011 with three fights in Japan in between. He never beat a true contender in the heavyweight division.

Cro Cop (30-11-2, 1 NC) was primed for a UFC heavyweight title shot after knocking out Eddie Sanchez in his debut. But he famously was knocked out by Gabriel Gonzaga via Cro Cop's trademark left head kick, eliminating him from title contention. Cro Cop, whose real name is Mirko Filipovic, never got back into title contention.

The former K-1 champion's name came up just last week. Bellator MMA president Scott Coker was asked if the organization was interested in signing Cro Cop and he said they had "several discussions" with him about coming back to the United States. Evidently, the UFC beat Bellator to the punch. Or the left high kick, if you will.

Cro Cop is coming off two straight victories in Japan over Satoshi Ishii, the latest on Dec. 31 via TKO (head kick and punches). He is 3-1 since leaving the UFC, but not against the best competition. Cro Cop departed the UFC after three straight losses to Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub and Frank Mir.

Since leaving, Cro Cop has also competed in kickboxing, winning a K-1 grand prix in 2012 and going 1-1 under the Glory banner.