The Sunday Aftermath: UFC Fight Night 64 – Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga

Cro Cop Gonzaga

For the first time ever, Poland was the UFC’s host country this Saturday night as its latest fight night card went down inside Krakow’s Tauron Arena in front of 11,000 odd adoring fans. It may not have been the most exciting night in UFC history but it did have its fair share of memorable moments.

The main event of the evening saw a rematch of the 2007 meeting of Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop. On that occasion, Gonzaga was the winner with a devastating head kick knockout – but this time it went a little differently. As many expected, it was a slow tentative start with both men wary of letting it go too early. A straight right hand from Gonzaga was the first meaningful connection of the bout and it was followed by another moments later. Cro Cop wasn’t as happy go on the offense so soon and ate a body kick from Gonzaga before being taken down against the fence. Gonzaga quickly turned out from the cage and took the fight to Cro Cop from half guard before passing to the mount. Cro Cop defended well initially but then got into a leg lock battle from a sweep attempt which he was lucky to survive before getting back to guard as the first period ended.

A big left hand from Cro Cop in the first minute of the second round was by far his best shot of the fight at that stage and he quickly followed it with his trademark high kick which Gonzaga ducked. With Cro Cop looking as if he was finally opening up, Gonzaga again took it to the floor but didn’t land too much damage as Cro Cop defended well, while still remaining active, off of his back. Eventually, though, Gonzaga was able to get some success and progressed into the mount before landing few hurtful strikes. Gonzaga looked to be setting up a triangle from that mount but time was against him and Cro Cop survived the frame.

It was another patient start to kick off the third before Cro Cop stuffed a desperate looking takedown attempt from Gonzaga. Following that, Gonzaga tied Cro Cop up and put him against the fence but it was the Croatian who took advantage of the position as he broke away and landed three heavy shots which dropped Gonzaga. Cro Cop quickly followed him south and ended up in the guard of Gonzaga. From there, Gonzaga looked to be recovering and even attempted an armbar but Cro Cop laid it on strong with unrelenting ground and pound, including a series of elbows, which forced the referee to step in and call the fight – giving Cro Cop the revenge he had been looking for since 2007. At their vintage, it’s never exactly easy to predict what’s next for either man but, in the post fight interview, Cro Cop assured fans that he would be back.

The co-feature of the card saw the most anticipated bout of the line-up as Poland’s own Jan Blachowicz took on heavy handed Englishman Jimi Manuwa. It was Manuwa who took the centre of the Octagon from the start. The Englishman pushed Blachowicz back but a lead jab from the Pole was the first landed strike of the evening. Manuwa got going pretty quickly, though, as he landed a couple of left hands to the body and head before controlling Blachowicz in the clinch for a couple of minutes. Blachowicz did well with his jab again off of the back foot after they broke but Manuwa’s high kicks following another prolonged period of Octagon control had him pretty clearly winning the round as it entered the closing stages. Blachowicz, the better ground fighter, attempted a couple of late takedowns but they were all defended well by the Brit.

A couple of leg kicks from either man started off the second round as Manuwa again took the centre despite the best efforts of his opponent. After a brief stoppage due to an accidental eye poke to Manuwa, the action began to heat up. Manuwa landed two nice leg kicks while Blachowicz answered with a body kick of his own before they traded knees in yet another long clinched period which was eventually ended by referee Marc Goddard. From the break Manuwa had success with more kicks to the lower half of the body while a left hook to the body in the last ten seconds was probably his best shot of the stanza.

Manuwa looked like he had decided to up the pace in the third and landed with some more left hands to the body after an initial head shot which narrowly missed. Another clinch battle followed that but Blachowicz escaped and hit Manuwa with a quick head kick as he backed away. Manuwa didn’t seem to like that and again pushed Blachowicz against the cage before he was unsuccessful with a takedown try. A left right combination from Blachowicz looked a good couple of shots but it didn’t stop the Brit in his tracks as he cliched out until the final bell. It wasn’t the most impressive display from either man but in the end Manuwa took the unanimous decision before admitting he suffered a pretty serious injury to his knee during training camp which may explain the unusual performance.

Outside of the top two there wasn’t a whole lot of unmissable action but the most outstanding moment of the night undoubtedly came from Leon Edwards who landed a huge right hand to finish veteran Seth Baczynski in just eight seconds. There was also a finish from the impressive Aleksandra Albu in her UFC debut while it was also a mixed night for Scotland as Stevie Ray got an impressive TKO victory on his UFC debut and Joanne Calderwood lost via first round armbar to heavy underdog Maryna Moroz.

Check out the full results below

Mirko Filipovic def. Gabriel Gonzaga via TKO – R3, 3:30
Jimi Manuwa def. Jan Blachowicz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Pawel Pawlak def. Sheldon Westcott via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Maryna Moroz def. Joanne Calderwood via submission (armbar) – R1, 1:30

Leon Edwards def. Seth Baczynski via knockout – R1, 0:08
Bartosz Fabinski def. Garreth McLellan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Sergio Moraes def. Mickael Lebout via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Yaotzin Meza def. Damian Stasiak via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Hamilton def. Daniel Omielanczuk via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Alexandra Albu def. Izabela Badurek via submission (guillotine) – R2, 3:34
Stevie Ray def. Marcin Bandel via TKO – R2, 1:35
Taylor Lapilus def. Rocky Lee via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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