Last week, Bellator MMA announced that Mirko Cro Cop would be rematching Roy Nelson at the promotions 200th event this May. The announcement raised questions from some regarding the MMA legends eligibility to compete, considering Cro Cop was suspended by USADA for two years for taking HGH, but he never served out his suspension, instead choosing to retire.
The retirement was short-lived however, as a year later, Cro Cop began competing for Rizin FF, winning their 2016 Open Weight Grand Prix. But despite the fact the Cro Cop has fought five times since receiving his USADA suspension, questions regarding his suspension and whether promoters should book him only arose when Bellator announced his return to non-Japanese MMA, something Coker said makes no sense.
Heres the thing, Coker told Jim Edwards of MMANYtt. Mirko fights in Rizin, in Japan, and USADA has relationship with the UFC and theyre in Japan all the time. Why didnt they go after him two years ago when he started fighting in Rizin? This is a question just because hes fighting for Bellator at our 200th event?
To me its like, if you wanted to take action, you shouldve took action a long time ago, because to me, honestly, when we booked it, we didnt even know there were issues. Hes already fighting so we thought he was able to fight.
Cro Cops USADAs ban is not binding because it is not a commission suspension, and commissions arent required to honor any USADA suspension. Plus, as Coker notes, Bellator doesnt have any connection to USADA, so the organization isnt incentivized to adhere to a two-year suspension handed out over two years ago, especially since Cro Cop has been competing without issue since then.
Listen, USADA works with the UFC, said Coker. Theyre doing their own thing, so go do it. I just feel like the timing of it is a little bit questionable because at the end of the day, if you really wanted to enforce it, you shouldve enforced it two years ago when Mirko fought in Japan.
Bellator 200 will be regulated by Mike Mazzulli, the President of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports, who is frequently brought overseas by Bellator to oversee regulatory operations in countries that do not have commissions. Mazzulli has yet to mention any issues with the scheduled bout.