Legendary heavyweight fighter Mirko Cro Cop is returning from a self-imposed retirement to take on Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at Rizin 9 this December.
Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara made the announcement through Instagram:
RIZIN GP2016無差別級王者のミルコ選手が一年振りにRIZINのリングに帰還します。 引退までの残り数試合、最も愛する日本のファンの前で闘う事を決断しました。 最後まで勝負論の有る試合がしたいと言うのがミルコの希望です。 引退に向けて動き出すミルコの最終章に注目して下さい！ #mirkocrocop #RIZINFF #RIZIN2017 The RIZIN GP 2016 winner Mirko Crocop will be returning to the RIZIN ring after a year. He has decided to fight in front of his beloved Japanese fans a few more times before he retires. He would like to continue to face meaningful opponents until he hangs his gloves. Keep an eye out for Mirko's final chapter.
Cro Cop (35-11-2-1NC) won the Rizin 2016 Openweight Grand Prix, defeating Amir Aliakbari in the finals by first round knockout. Cro Cop hasn’t suffered a defeat in well over four years, with that last loss coming to UFC veteran Aleksei Oleinik at Legend Part 2: The Invasion. Cro Cop is in the midst of an seven fight winning streak, which includes wins over Bellator MMA veteran King Mo and UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga.
Kohsaka (27-19-2) has won just one of two in Rizin competition, defeating James Thompson. Kohsaka is also returning to action after a year layoff and his last bout came at Rizin 3 in December of 2016. Kohsaka has been competing in professional MMA for over 22 years, which includes a four pack of appearances in the UFC. He holds a controversial victory over Fedor Emelianenko.
Rizin 9 takes place on Monday, December 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan with no main event announced at this time. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on Fite TV.