After Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ easily dismantled Tatsuya Mizuno at Dream 1, he asked for a tougher opponent in his next fight. It appears he got his wish, sort of. According to MMA-ID.com, his opponent will be Jerome LeBanner, a world-class K-1 kickboxer, at Dream 4. LeBanner, however, lacks experience in MMA with his 3-1 record. But, that probably won’t matter in this bout though with Cro Cop standing at the other corner of the ring. Cro Cop, a former K-1 kickboxer himself, is not fond of the ground fighting aspect of mixed martial arts and prefers to stand, strike and kick people’s heads off with his left leg.
Cro Cop, the 2006 PRIDE Open Weight GP Champion, is trying to get his career back on track after dropping two highly disappointing losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheik Kongo in the UFC. Reportedly, after balking at a pay cut, Cro Cop asked for permission to fight in Japan this year, vowing to return to the UFC after he secured a few victories, to which the UFC obliged.
This will not be the first time Cro Cop and LeBanner have met though. Cro Cop won a five-round decision against LeBanner in 1996 in K-1. Despite the difference in rules, there is probably a better chance of the UFC and Randy Couture dropping their lawsuits than there is of these two battling it out in a ground war. Expect a stand up battle between two world-class strikers.
Here’s a quick highlight video of LeBanner for those not familiar with him: