MMA4Real did a poll a while back asking if Mirko Cro Cop could return to being a top 5 heavyweight, and the percentages said "No". While I have my doubts on that as well, after watching the weigh in's this morning it's very possible for Mirko to get a title shot after 3 fights. I understand that this fight at UFC 99 is a verbal one time deal, and I suppose that if Mirko wins impressively he'll sign a 3-4 fight deal with the UFC. So let's take a look at Mirko's path to a UFC HW title shot:
Cro Cop vs. Al-Turk-This fight is happening on tomorrow, and it's a fight that Cro Cop should be able to win. This fight doesn't really do anything in terms of beating a name opponent, but it does give Mirko some confidence going forward. A confident Cro Cop is a dangerous fighter. So we should be able to chalk this fight up as a win for him.
Cro Cop vs. Cheick Kongo-This should be Mirko's next fight, provided he beats Al-Turk and Kongo loses to Cain Velasquez at UFC 99. Those are two very likely scenario's by the way. This would be a re-match from UFC 75, and would give Mirko a win over a guy that's not too far from a title shot himself right now. The first fight had some controversy in regards to Kongo hitting Mirko with a couple of low blows, so a lot of people would like to see this re-match...including me.
Cro Cop vs. the loser of Lesnar/Mir-If Mirko can get past Kongo the next match up could be the loser of Mir/Lesnar. My money right now would be that this fight would be against Mir, as I just don't see him beating Lesnar this go around. If Mir is able to beat Lesnar though, then a Lesnar/Cro Cop fight would do very well also. A win against the loser of this one would essentially make him the #1 contender by default.
Mirko more than likely only has a handful of fights in him. He's admitted that he's only coming back to make one last run at the title. There would be no sense in giving him fluff matches after Al-Turk. I know Velasquez and Carwin are somewhere in the picture and you could very well substitute one of them for one of the matchups up above. I also wouldn't mind seeing him face the winner of Couture/Nogueira either. I've said repeatedly that I thought Mirko was done as a fighter(I still think he loses to most of the top guys). However, after re-evaluating things, he's not really that far off from a title shot if he can string some wins together. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out after the weekend. Given the path I've provided, how would you like Cro Cop's chances at getting a title shot?