Mirko Cro Cop started slowly against Gabriel Gonzaga tonight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 64 in Poland, but he finally came alive in the third round and rocked his opponent before finishing him with ground and pound.
The main event is underway. Gonzaga with a tentative punch. They circle each other and then Gonzaga comes forward with a more aggressive couple of strikes, but Cro Cop backs away.
Another flurry of strikes from Gonzaga puts Cro Cop in reverse gear. And another – Cro Cop not offering much in return so far. Cautious start from him.
Cro Cop with a jab. Gonzaga with a hook and soon after a heavy body kick. Gonzaga being quite patient then picking his moments to surge forward.
Gonzaga suddenly in on a takedown attempt and he gets it with half the round remaining. He’s in Cro Cop’s half guard here and this is his comfort zone.
Very nice pass into full mount for Gonzaga. dangerous spot for Cro Cop early in the fight. He’s got 90 seconds to survive here. Suddenly Cro Cop manages to get a heel hook attempt, but Gonzaga shows his assured skills to get out of that quickly and then threaten with a heel hook of his own.
Cro Cop manages to escape that danger, but before he can stand again Gonzaga drops back down into his guard with a big punch. Gonzaga staying in full guard now and lands a few strikes. Cro Cop looking to land a few elbows from his back as the round ends.
They circle each other cautiously. Cro Cop could do with being a bit more aggressive on the feet. Gonzaga tries a high kick, but it doesn’t find the target.
Cro Cop with a hard left hand and they collide as he steps in. Cro Cop with a big head kick, but Gonzaga ducks underneath it looking for a takedown attempt. An accidental illegal blow then forces a brief stoppage, but Cro Cop is ok to continue quickly.
Uppercut from Cro Cop as Gonzaga comes in and the Brazilian manages to get the takedown.
Gonzaga in half guard landing a few blows to the body. Gonzaga hoping to hop into full mount again with 2.30mins to work. Gonzaga keeping him in half guard for now though and then almost scrambles out, but Gonzaga moves back to the half guard.
Now Gonzaga is back into the full mount he achieved in the opening round. 90 seconds to go. Gonzaga patient, but starts to land a little ground and pound as we reach the minute mark.
Cro Cop in defensive mode here and so Gonzaga looks at an armbar attempt. Cro Cop defends to prevent that. Big elbow drops down from the Brazilian and then another and Cro Cop’s face is suddenly streaked with blood.
The buzzer sounds and Cro Cop is bleeding hard from a cut towards the edge of his left eyebrow that’s swelling up.
Gonzaga with a lazy body punch to start the third round of this main event that’s scheduled for five.
Cro Cop still circling without much urgency. Cro Cop fakes a strike and Gonzaga looks for a takedown from far out that’s easily avoided.
Gonzaga pushes into the clinch, backing his opponent to the cage. Glacial pace from these two veteran heavyweights at this stage in the fight.
Gonzaga hoping for the takedown, but Cro Cop stuffing it so far. Gonzaga with a knee. Cro Cop tries for a trip takedown that doesn’t pay off.
Cro Cop lands a strike and Gonzaga looks a little wobbled as he tries to grapple. Cro Cop lands a couple of huge elbows and Gonzaga’s really hurt here, struggling to stay standing.
Gonzaga goes down and Cro Cop is on top of him. He’s starting to hammer down some huge elbows here and Gonzaga’s doing little to defend it.
More ground and pound from Cro Crop, he’s going all out for the finish here and cutting up Gonzaga’s face in the process. And that’s it, the referee has seen enough – Cro Cop gets the TKO victory at 3.30mins of the third round!
Great to see the 40 year-old Cro Cop coming back to the UFC with a victory and avenging the biggest upset loss of his career against Gonzaga all those years ago. The top ranked heavyweights are unlikely to be quaking in their boots after that performance, but there’s some life left in the old dog yet.