Thankfully, UFC Fight Night in Poland is over. The UFC has had some bad cards in the past few years, but this was one of the worst I've seen in a long time. It was just an assortment of tentative clinch-fighting against the fence, a series of unpunished fence grabs, telegraphed takedowns, sloppy grappling exchanges, strikes with no pop or power, and just generally bad MMA. I've got to give it up to the Polish crowd who kept the booing to a minimum, because if this show happened in North America the boobirds would've been out in full force.
That said, Mirko Cro Cop salvaged some of the 5 hours worth of tedium by getting even with Gabriel Gonzaga in the main event. After 2 rounds it looked like Gonzaga was just going to ease his way to victory, much to the sadness of Cro Cop fans, but Gonzaga was tired and Cro Cop made perfect use of those standing elbows in the clinch to rock the Brazilian and eventually finish him. It's a nice win for Cro Cop, but in an ideal world, that's the win he retires on. He was getting dominated before the finish and I seriously doubt he could beat anyone else ranked in the top 15 right now. Alas, I assume he'll continue on the European circuit, headlining Fight Pass shows until he gets KO'd brutally again and retires again.
More thoughts on the card below:
- Speaking of guys who probably should consider retirement,Gabriel Gonzaga has lost by (T)KO 8 times in 10 losses, and 3 of them have come in his last 6 fights.
- Polish fighters performed really poorly on this card (2-5 overall), and part of the problem is ... well ... the best Polish fighters weren't on the card. Mamed Khalidov is with KSW, Marcin Held is in Bellator, Marcin Tybura is with M-1, Piotr Hallmann is suspended, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk is in the UFC but she fought last month. The UFC went into a country and had virtually none of the interesting prospects or top fighters at their disposal.
- Joanne Calderwood not only got submitted by Maryna Moroz, but she was flat out dominated. Moroz hurt her standing with her boxing, forced her to back up, and then in an instant secured the armbar to shatter Calderwood's potential title shot against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Big win for Moroz but a devastating one for Calderwood.
- Props to Moroz for immediately calling out Joanna at cageside. She beat a top 10 opponent in unexpectedly quick and brutal fashion, and it's a hell of a lot better than saying "I will fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me". Not sure if she'll get the title shot but it's worth a try.
- Leon Edwards' KO of Seth Baczynski was the 2nd fastest KO in UFC welterweight history (behind presumably Ludwig stopping Goulet 8 minutes after they signed their fight contracts), and he showed off some scary power in his left hand. Between that win and some of his pre-UFC offerings I'm hopeful that he can be another fun action fighter in the division.
- John Gooden and Dan Hardy said in pre-fight commentary that Baczynski's chin could withstand a stand-up war. This is now the 3rd time since 2013 that he's been knocked out, and he's 1-5 in his last 6.
- The preliminary card largely was a snoozefest. Yes, I know it's a Fight Pass show, but guys like Rocky Lee and Garreth McLellan showed absolutely nothing to persuade anyone that they should be getting several UFC fights.
- Izabela Badurek was 1-for-7 on takedown attempts vs. Aleksandra Albu, and the one successful takedown she managed ended with her leaving her neck exposed for the fight-ending guillotine choke. Oof.
- I thought Mickael Lebout did enough to earn the win against Sergio Moraes, who suddenly became a kickboxing-minded fighter during his long layoff. Did the judges score round 1 for Moraes based on his late takedown? I hope that wasn't the deciding factor.
- Steven Ray shut down Marcin Bandel's leglock game -- apparently if you're Polish and you're named Marcin, you hate legs -- and put away Bandel brilliantly by turning a guard pull into full mount. You could tell that Ray was the more skilled fighter and he proved so with his TKO finish. If the UFC plans to go to Scotland in mid-July I imagine he'll have a spot reserved for him and he won't have to cut 33 pounds in 2 weeks again.
- I believe it was Marc Goddard who told Garreth McLellan that the "finger on the ground game won't work", meaning that McLellan was trying to game the system by making himself a "downed opponent" by simply putting his finger on the canvas. You know what will stop refs from telling fighters about this? Changing the rules so that a finger on the canvas doesn't qualify you as a downed opponent. McLellan wasn't doing anything illegal, but the rule itself is easily exploitable and needs to be patched.