UFC Fight Night 64: Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop – Preview, Fight Picks and Kountermove Breakdown

Cro Cop Gonzaga

For the first time in the history of the promotion this weekend will see the UFC hold a show in MMA mad Poland. Like many cards of similar standing, UFC Fight Night 64 sees a legion of home country fighters on the undercard while the headliner is a face off between two well known stars.

This week, that headlining bout is the heavyweight clash of MMA legends Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović and Gabriel Gonzaga in what will be the second meeting between the pair. In the first fight, Cro Cop entered as a heavy favourite with a title shot looming but it was Gonzaga who took the victory after head kick KOing Cro Cop with his own patented move. Since then it has been an up and down time for both men as Cro Cop has retired and made a winning comeback while Gonzaga has had his fair share of wins but has also lost his last two in a row. At this stage, both men are well past their prime but might have a little left in the tank to put on a show for the Polish fans.

Despite knocking out Cro Cop in the first meeting, Gonzaga is best known for being a grappler. The Brazilian is a former world champion in jiu-jitsu and has eight career submissions on his record. Along with those eight subs, Gonzaga also has eight knockouts and will have no problem letting his hands (and feet) go again on Saturday. For Cro Cop, it will be a case of revenge by any means necessary. The former Pride heavyweight champion is a beast in every area but his devastating striking has always been his most attractive part of offensive game. The Croatian legend has some of the best high kicks in the game but can also open his game up with painful combinations to the head, body and legs.

When a world class grappler meets a world class striker, it’s normally a case of who can get the fight into their world will be the winner. But in this match-up, both guys are experienced and smart enough to win it wherever it goes. This is a really tough one to decide on because of where they are in their careers but, at a push, I’m picking Cro Cop to control the pace, stay out of Gongaza’s grasp, get the knockout and take revenge.

NatashaKM620 Kountermove

There are even more heavy hitting big boys in the co-main event as Poland’s own Jan Blachowicz takes on fellow light-heavyweight Jimi Manuwa in probably the most anticipated bout of the night. Blachowicz is a long time stand-out on the European scene having plied his trade since 2007 mostly in his home country. A former KSW light-heavyweight champion, Blachowicz has wins over Sokoudjou, Christian M’Pumbu and Houston Alexander while he was also victorious over Ilir Latifi in his UFC debut last October. What Blachowicz is to Poland, Manuwa is somewhat to England. Just like Blachowicz, Manuwa was light-heavyweight champion on the local scene for UCMMA and entered the UFC with plenty of experience which stood him in good stead as be defeated Kyle Kingsbury, Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo to take his career record to 14-0. Last time out, though, Manuwa dropped his first fight to Alexander Gustafsson and will be looking to bounce back straight away here.

The fight itself should be a pretty fun one to watch play out. Manuwa is a wickedly explosive striker with knockout power in every blow. Although we haven’t seen much of the Londoner on the floor, we do know he had a tremendous sprawl and some good ground and pound. Blachowicz is a much different type of practitioner. On the feet he is extremely defensive and prefers to stand on the outside away from any exchanges while darting in with, usually well timed, power shots of his own. Blachowicz has a nice takedown game and when it hits the ground he passes well, lands plenty of strikes and works hard for submissions.

This is another really tough one to pick. As mentioned about, Blachowicz is a really defensive fighter and against Manuwa that should be exacerbated. For Manuwa, he will need to remain patient and avoid getting into any scrambles which could see Blachowicz get it to the floor. In his past UFC winning efforts, Manuwa has shown he can keep to a gameplan when he doesn’t get the KO immediately and, if he can do that again on Saturday night, he just might take home the win.

Outside of the top two there are plenty of unknowns but much to look forward to throughout the undercard as well. Names like Taylor Lapilus, Pawel Pawlak and Sergio Moraes are all worth looking out for while Scottish fans, who are already on a high with the UFC coming to Glasgow later this year, might have their excitement turned up a notch on Saturday with top female strawweight contender JoJo Calderwood and former Cage Warriors champion Stevie Ray both on the docket.

FIGHT PICKS (Kontermove prices in Brackets)

Gabriel Gonzaga (5300) vs. Mirko Filipović (5100) – Cro Cop gets the KO
Jimi Manuwa (5500) vs. Jan Błachowicz (4100) – Manuwa eventually breaks down the defence to win
Pawel Pawlak (4900) vs. Sheldon Westcott (4700)    – Decision goes to Wescott 
Joanne Calderwood (5300) vs. Maryna Moroz (4300) – JoJo earns herself a title shot
Seth Baczynski(4500) vs. Leon Edwards (5100) – Submission win for Baczynski   
Bartosz Fabiński (4100) vs. Garreth McLellan (5500) – McLellan gets the sub
Sérgio Moraes (5400) vs. Mickael Lebout (4200) – Moraes via submission
Damian Stasiak (4900) vs. Yaotzin Meza (4700) – I’ll take the experience of Meza  
Daniel Omielańczuk (4900) vs. Anthony Hamilton (4700) – Hamilton via KO
Izabela Badurek (5000) vs. Aleksandra Albu (4600) – Albu via decision
Marcin Bandel (4800) vs. Steven Ray (4800) – With Ray on short notice I’ll take Bandel   
Taylor Lapilus (5300) vs. Rocky Lee (4300) – Two unknowns, Lee for me

NatashaKM620 Kountermove


This week’s Kountermove fantasy MMA is really for the smartest of MMA people with many unknowns mixed in throughout the card. There are plenty of options to anchor your team this week with JoJo Calderwood (5300) and Sergio Moraes (5400) pretty good bets to get the finish. For me, though, I think Jimi Manuaw may be worth going the extra time to fit in at 5500. In underdog picks this week Meza and Hamilton wouldn’t be bad choices while Rocky Lee (4300) although a big gamble could pay off against another relative unknown in Taylor Lapilus (5300) who I would probably avoid.

So, to get started playing Kountermove fantasy MMA, simply follow these steps.

1. Click the link – http://www.kountermove.com/r/MMA/654925/

2. Sign up

3. Select a game

4. Select your 5 fighter team while staying under the 25,000 salary cap and submit.

5. Watch the money roll in!


This week I’m going with an almost 4/1 treble of Cro Cop, Calderwood and Manuwa.


Prelims – Fight Pass @ 4.45pm BST

Main Card – Fight Pass @ 8pm BST (Replayed 11pm on Pick TV)

fantasymma KOUN

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 Facebook.com/seansheehanmma

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