By Ryan Frederick for WrestlingObserver.com
Cro Cop gains revenge, finishes Gonzaga in the third
Mirko Cro Cop was returning to the UFC in the first main event in Poland, and he was looking for revenge for the highlight-reel knockout that Gabriel Gonzaga had over him when they first met. Gonzaga, meanwhile, was looking to repeat history and end a two-fight losing skid that was plauging him.
With Cro Cop walking towards the Octagon to the song synonymous with him, "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran, he was looking to erase recent disappointment in the UFC, as he had suffered three straight knockout losses in his previous time in the UFC.
Gonzaga and Cro Cop were headlining UFC Fight Night 64 from the Tauron Arena in Krakow, Poland. This was the first time the Octagon graced the country, with the entire event streaming on the UFC's digital network, UFC Fight Pass. They previously headlined UFC 70 from Manchester, England on April 21, 2007
Both men were looking to land the big shot early. Cro Cop was bleeding from his forehead quickly, and it felt the fight-finishing blow was coming at any moment. Gonzaga, though, decided to take the fight to the ground in the opening round. Both men tried leg locks, but both escaped. Gonzaga at one point got on his feet and went for a jumping punch but ended up riding it out on top.
They were tentative in the second round, but they went after each other after Cro Cop missed a head kick. A low blow slowed the action and Gonzaga got a takedown when they got back to action. Gonzaga dominated the rest of the round with punches and elbows from the top, opening a big cut on Cro Cop's head, and seemingly being up two rounds after ten minutes.
Then, the third round happened. It was Gonzaga early going for a takedown. Cro Cop was able to defend it and then rocked Gonzaga with two big elbows in the clinch. Gonzaga was in a lot of trouble and fell to the ground. Cro Cop jumped into the guard and landed a series of elbows and punches that had Gonzaga in a world of trouble. Referee Leon Roberts stopped the fight, leaving Gonzaga in a pool of blood and Cro Cop with his first UFC win since 2010.
"I feel great. It was all strategy. We made a plan. Two rounds, doesn't matter, win or lose. We believed third or fourth round would be the end," said Cro Cop after the fight.
"During the preparation we were training how to throw elbows, and it worked."
It was Cro Cop's third straight win overall, and he moved to 6-0 in rematches in his career. Cro Cop is now 31-11-2 (1 NC) in his career. With Gonzaga suffering his third straight loss, he now falls to a 16-10 professional record, and his UFC future is in jeopardy.
Manuwa bests Blachowicz in the co-main event
The semi-main event of the evening was a battle of strikers as Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz stepped inside the Octagon. Manuwa was looking to rebound from the first loss of his career after he returned from a 13-month injury layoff. Blachowicz was looking to extend a six-fight win streak in front of his Polish faithful.
They traded and clinched back-and-forth in the opening round, often switching positions against the fence with neither man getting a clear advantage. It was a big feeling out round, especially for Manuwa, who was looking to shake off any ring rust. Blachowicz picked up the pace at the end of a close opening round, looking to steal it late, though it was likely Manuwa's round.
The second round was more of the same with a lot of battling in the clinch and wrestling for position. Both landed knees, both were warned about inactivity, but again, neither man could land a fight-changing blow. When they were broken up, it was Manuwa who took the opportunity to be the aggressor and land the better shots, but Blachowicz did fire back and land. It was likely another round for Manuwa.
A close fight came down to the deciding third round. Manuwa was starting to get impatient in the fight and came out looking to close the fight with a big round. He landed a big head kick as Blachowicz was tiring. They clinched against the fence once again as the pace began to slow once again. However, the clock began to wind to the end and neither man was able to score a finish, and it was headed to the judges, the first time that has happened in the career of Manuwa.
The fight was not the fireworks encounter many were expecting, leaving the crowd mildly disappointed.
In the end, it was Manuwa getting the unanimous decision nod, taking the fight on scorecards of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28. It was Manuwa's fourth UFC win, moving him to 15-1 overall. Blachowicz dropped to 18-4 in his professional career.
"I almost didn't make it to the fight, a bad injury a few weeks ago. I didn't pull out of the fight, and I made it happen," said Manuwa after the fight. He also said he's looking for a top ten opponent.
Pawlak scores first UFC win over Westcott
Pawel Pawlak and Sheldon Westcott entered the Octagon on Saturday night with each in search of their first UFC win in their second UFC appearance. It was a close fight on paper and with the betting odds. Pawlak had the hometown crowd behind him when he made his entrance to the Tauron Arena in Krakow.
Westcott wanted nothing to do with Pawlak's striking during the first ten minutes as he initiated clinches against the fence. Pawlak was able to constantly hit Westcott, even dropping him with a knee, but Westcott went back to the clinch. Pawlak defended well and ended up getting the better end of the battle in the closing minute of the second round, likely leaving the third round to decide it.
Pawlak rocked Westcott early in the final round and was looking to finish in front of a crowd cheering him on, and one booing Westcott forcing the clinch. However, it was Pawlak who got the advantage on the ground, grinding down a very-tired Westcott. Westcott got the fight back upright, but he struggled to get anything going in the final round and the fight went to the judges.
It was the third round that decided it, and the judges saw the fight for Pawlak, who took home the unanimous decision on straight 29-28 scores.
"I'm feeling great. I won this for you, my coaches, my family, my fans,' said Pawlak after the fight.
It was Pawlak's first UFC win and moved him to 11-1 overall. Westcott's second UFC loss dropped his career record to 8-3-1.
Moroz scores the massive upset over Calderwood
Joanne Calderwood made the walk to the Octagon in Krakow with one thing on her mind- get that title shot. It became an easier road when a scheduled bout between Claudia Gadelha and Aisling Daly fell from the card, but she still had to get through the debuting Maryna Moroz, who was entering the UFC with a perfect 5-0 record.
Calderwood came into the Octagon with a lot of confidence and a huge favorite according to the betting odds.
Moroz didn't get the memo that she was supposed to lose.
The girls came out swinging and Calderwood was getting the upper hand. A clinch happened, then a funny thing happened- Moroz dropped down for guard and grabbed the arm. She sunk in the armbar and Calderwood was forced to tap out in just 90 seconds into the fight. It was a huge upset win for Moroz, who climbed the top of the Octagon and pointed directly at the UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the hometown hero.
"She's fighting extremely well, that's why I want to fight her," said Moroz, through a translator, about the champion.
The girls traded words back-and-forth, and Moroz called the champion out after the fight, and it looks like that may be next in line. Moroz remains undefeated in her career, moving her record to 6-0, with all six wins by stoppage. It was her fifth first-round finish.
It was Calderwood's first career loss, ending her nine-fight win streak and dropping her to 9-1.
Preliminary Card Recap- Edwards, Albu, Ray score impressive wins:
In the opening bout of the night, Taylor Lapilus and Rocky Lee made their debuts inside the Octagon. Lapilus was the more experienced fighter, and it showed as he dominated Lee en route to a decision win over the course of three rounds. Lapilus came close to securing a choke in the first round, but Lee escaped, and it was Lapilus who controlled the rest, scoring both on the feet and on the ground, and defending some takedown attempts from Lee. It was a solid showing for Lapilus, who improved to 9-1 in his career. Lee suffered the first loss of his career, dropping to 3-1 in his career, and he will need a better showing if he is to get a second appearance in the UFC.
In the second fight of the night, Stevie Ray made his UFC debut, on short notice, to take on Marcin Bandel. It was an impressive showing for Ray. It was a close back-and-forth first round, with Bandel getting an early takedown, and then losing out on another one, and it was almost costly. It allowed Ray to get on top and work for a choke, and Ray had Bandel close to tapping out at the end of the first round with an arm-triangle choke, but Bandel was saved by the bell (and blatantly cheating by holding on to the cage to defend the choke).
The second round saw Bandel drop down to pull guard, but it allowed Ray to end on top, and Ray unloaded a series of punches that busted up Bandel, and forced referee Leon Roberts to call a stop to the fight. Ray scored his first UFC win and moved to 17-5 in his career. It was Bandel's second UFC loss in as many fights, and he fell to 13-4 in his career.
The women took the Octagon for the first time in the third bout as Izabela Badurek and Aleksandra Albu made their UFC debuts. The first round saw some clinching against the fence as both battled for takedowns. Albu attempted a throw but Badurek defended and they ended the round against the fence with not a lot of action happening, but Albu got the better of the exchanges. The second round saw Albu land punches before they clinched again along the cage. Albu was getting the better on the feet consistently, so Badurek decided to go for a takedown, and it was costly as Albu grabbed the neck and sunk in a guillotine choke. It was tight and Badurek tapped quickly, allowing Albu to pick up the win. It moved Albu to 2-0 in her young career, while the loss dropped Badurek to a 5-3 record.
Heavyweights took the Octagon when Daniel Omielanczuk and Anthony Hamilton looked to get back into the win column. They came out swinging early and Omielanczuk fell early and Hamilton jumped on top. Hamilton stayed on top throughout the opening minutes, landing big punches to the head and body. It remained that way the entire round with Hamilton just controlling from the top and landing lots of punches to end the round. They came out throwing in the second round and backed against the fence and both landing big punches to the body, especially Hamilton. Omielanczuk defended a takedown and began to get the upper hand on Hamilton and pushed him against the fence, landing big punches. Omielanczuk took the fight to the mat and took the back.
They scrambled and Hamilton reversed and ended the round with an advantage. It was likely tied up headed to the final round. They battled for position against the fence in the third, and Hamilton controlled having Omielanczuk planted against the cage. Both were very tired. Hamilton was landing bigger punches and knees to the body. It was a lot of dirty boxing and Hamilton took the fight down late and likely took the round and fight as it went to the judges. All three judges ended up giving Hamilton two of the three rounds, giving him the unanimous decision win on scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27. It was Hamilton's second UFC win, moving him to 14-4 overall. Omielanczuk dropped his second straight fight, falling to 16-5-1 (1 NC) overall in his career.
A late-notice featherweight bout between Damian Stasiak and Yaorzin Meza was the fifth fight of the night. Stasiak was making his UFC debut while Meza was moving up a weight class. They quickly clinched and battled for underhooks and takedowns, and Meza scored one early. Stasiak looked for an arm, but Meza controlled and grabbed the neck. Meza looked for the choke, but Stasiak escaped and ended up on top before a scramble to the feet. They scrambled and Stasiak grabbed the back and landed strikes while looking for the choke. Stasiak got it in but Meza escaped and survived the round. They exchanged to open the second round and Meza jumped up for a choke but it allowed the fight to go to the mat with Stasiak on top.
Stasiak got up and spun to side control but it allowed Meza to reverse and end on top. It was heavy grappling in the second round. Meza at one point took the back of Stasiak and looked for a choke. but ended the round on top. It was close headed to the final round. There was more grappling in the final and Meza got on top and looked for an arm-triangle but Stasiak defended and rolled up, but gave up his back. Meza ended up transitioning to mount as Stasiask tried escaping. Meza controlled the final round as it headed to the judges. In the end, it was Meza getting the unanimous decision on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. It was Meza's second win in the UFC, and it ran his overall record to 21-9 (1 NC). Stasiak dropped his UFC debut, and he is now 8-3 in his career.
The sixth fight of the night was a welterweight bout pitting Sergio Moraes and Mickael Lebout. Lebout was making his UFC debut on short notice, and was actually the third different opponent for Moraes. It was a lot of exchanging on the feet in the first round with neither man getting an upper hand. Moraes took the fight down in the late stages and likely took the round. The second round was much of the same with a lot of exchanges on the feet. Moraes was seemingly getting the upper hand and missed on some heavy punches that Lebout just barely got out of the way of.
Moraes got frustrated as he was having trouble and Lebout was landing, but Moraes was likely up after two rounds, though it was close. The third round was some more exchanges with both landing before Moraes, a highly-skilled jiu-jitsu black belt, was able to get the fight down. Moraes controlled the final round on the mat though Lebout reversed at the end, but it was too little too late as it went to the scorecards. All three judges gave Moraes two of three rounds, with him getting the unanimous decision on straight 29-28 scorecards. It was Moraes' third UFC win, moving him to 9-2 overall. The loss moved Lebout to 13-4-1 (1 NC) overall.
The seventh fight of the night saw two debuting middleweights as Poland's Bartosz Fabinski took on South Africa's Garreth McLellan. Fabinski controlled the opening round, scoring some takedowns and controlling the mat work but McLellan did lock a guillotine choke in late in the round as Fabinski fell to the mat when they stood. However, the first belonged to Fabinski. It was more of the same in the second round as Fabinski scored the takedown and controlled from the top.
McLellan had no answer from getting out from the bottom, and Fabinski was likely up comfortably on the scorecards headed to the third round. McLellan tried to come out for the finish in the third round but Fabinski took the fight back down multiple times and rode out the fight as it headed to the judges. It was easy to see that it was Fabinski's fight, and the judges agreed as he got the unanimous decision with 30-27 scores across the board. The win moved Fabinski to a 12-2 career record, while the loss dropped McLellan to a record of 12-3.
The final preliminary bout was a welterweight contest between veteran Seth Baczynski and second-time UFC fighter Leon Edwards. Both men were looking to get back in the win column, and it was a potential loser leaves the UFC fight. Baczynski came out with a combo that missed and Edwards countered with a huge left hook that knocked Baczynski down and out of the fight. It was among the quickest finishes in UFC history, counted as the second-fastest finish in UFC welterweight history with a finish time of just eight seconds. It ended the preliminary card in dramatic fashion. It was Edwards' first UFC win and moved him to 9-2 overall. It was the third straight loss for Baczynski, who fell to 19-13 overall.
Post-Fight News and Notes
The official attendance was 10,000 with a gate of $720,000.
Post-fight awards on the night went to Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Maryna Moroz and Leon Edwards, UFC President Dana White tweeted following the event. All four took home $50,000. Cro Cop and Gonzaga took home "Fight Of The Night" honors for their main event bout won by Cro Cop. Moroz and Edwards took home "Performance Of The Night" bonuses for their wins. Moroz submitted Joanne Calderwood in the first round, while Edwards knocked out Seth Baczynski in just eight seconds.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza has a new opponent for next week's UFC event on FOX. Souza will now take on Chris Camozzi, who will step in for Yoel Romero, who was forced out due to a knee injury. This will be the second time that Souza and Camozzi have fought. Souza scored a first-round submission victory over Camozzi at UFC On FX 8 in May 2013. This will be Camozzi's return to the UFC. He was released following four straight losses, but returns after scoring two straight wins outside of the promotion.
UFC Fight Night 64 Results:
-Mirko Cro Cop def. Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO (strikes) at 3:20 of Round 3
-Jimi Manuwa def. Jan Blachowicz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
-Pawel Pawlak def. Sheldon Westcott by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Maryna Moroz def. Joanne Calderwood by submission (armbar) at 1:30 of Round 1
-Leon Edwards def. Seth Baczynski by knockout (punch) at :08 of Round 1
-Bartosz Fabinski def. Garreth McLellan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Sergio Moraes def. Mickael Lebout by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Yaotzin Meza def. Damian Stasiak by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
-Anthony Hamilton def. Daniel Omielanczuk by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
-Aleksandra Albu def. Izabela Badurek by submission (guillotine choke) at 3:34 of Round 2
-Steven Ray def. Marcin Bandel by TKO (punches) at 1:35 of Round 2
-Taylor Lapilus def. Rocky Lee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)