There are 70 minutes and counting on the pregame clock before the Mavericks play the Nets on St. Patrick’s Day. Dennis Smith Jr. is on the court warming up.
The Mavericks’ rookie is locked in, as if he has the entire arena to himself and his trainer. In reality, his side of the floor is as congested with teammates and assistants as a New York City train station during rush hour.
Mirko Cro Cop will indeed be drug tested ahead of Bellator 200.
Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation director Mike Mazzulli confirmed with MMA Fighting on Thursday that Cro Cop will undergo out-of-competition testing before his bout with Roy Nelson on May 25 in London. Bellator hires the Mohegan commission to regulate most of its overseas bouts.
Mazzulli said he will go himself to Croatia to collect a sample from Cro Cop. Mazzulli will be in Budapest, Hungary to regulate Bellator 196 on April 6, he said, and will take a train to see Cro Cop in Zagreb from there. Cro Cop’s sample will be analyzed by Quest Diagnostics, Mazzulli said.
In addition, Mazzulli said Nelson, Gegard Mousasi, Phil Davis and David Rickels have all been tested out of competition in relation to Bellator 200 and their screenings have come back clean.
Cro Cop, 43, has not fought under a regulatory body overseen by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) since he was suspended two years by USADA for disclosing the use of human growth hormone in 2015.
While Cro Cop’s suspension would be up by now had he stayed under contract and in the USADA drug-testing pool, Bellator’s booking of the MMA legend and a commission’s willingness to allow him to fight came under some fire earlier this month.
Mazzulli, the president of the ABC, said if Cro Cop had been suspended by another commission — and not the UFC’s anti-doping partner USADA — and he was still under that sanction, than he would not have approved the bout. But USADA is an independent company — not a regulator body — that works with the UFC and commissions are not bound by their sanctions. Cro Cop is technically still suspended, because his suspension froze when he was released from the UFC and left the USADA drug-testing pool
“I always look out for the best interests of the fighters,” Mazzulli said. “Cro Cop has not fought in the United States for a while. He was suspended for two years. I’m 110-percent positive that if any other commission in the ABC — in the United States — if they had him suspended, I would not have him fight. I highly doubt Bellator would allow him to fight.”
Cro Cop (36-11-2, 1 NC) has fought since the suspension — five times, in fact. He won all of those bouts under the Rizin banner in Japan, which does not fall under the ABC’s oversight. The former Pride star is adamant he should not have been suspended so long in the first place, because he never actually tested positive for HGH and said he only took a small dose of it to treat an injury so that he’d be able to stay in an upcoming fight.
On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Cro Cop was fired up when asked about critics saying he shouldn’t be allowed to fight for Bellator.
“Why not?” Cro Cop said. “Why shouldn’t I fight on this card? I was suspended for two years — for two years, for nothing. Two years for a negative test results.”
Mazzulli said Cro Cop will be in the clear to fight, provided his medicals and his drug test come back clean. He said that while USADA suspensions are noted on the ABC’s database of fighters, they don’t necessarily have to be honored.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Mazzulli said. “The USADA suspensions are placed on the MMA registry. … It’s a great informational tool to make an educated decision. At the end of the day, the more information we have, the better.”