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UFC Fight Night 64 predictions, preview, and analysis

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will make its debut in Poland tomorrow afternoon (Sat., April 11, 2015) with UFC Fight Night 64: "Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop 2," headlined by a couple of past-their-prime heavyweights looking to uh, win ... because there is nothing else at stake in Krakow. Oh, and it's airing on the promotion's subscription service, UFC Fight Pass.


The co-main event could produce the next light heavyweight title contender, but with a combined age of 67, it's not like Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz are a couple of spring chickens, either. The good news is, the always-entertaining Joanne Calderwood will put her undefeated record on the line against the similarly perfect Maryna Moroz.

In addition, Pawel Pawlak will be making his welterweight return against Sheldon Westcott, and "Plastinho" is supposedly one of Poland's top prospects, according to sources I don't have and didn't speak to.

If you want to see what's doing on the eight-fight preliminary card, our own Patty Stumberg has a nice "Prelims" breakdown here and here. He also crunched some of the numbers for his odds post here, though failed to give us the odds on whether or not anyone is going to watch it.

Ahem ... shall we?

265 lbs.: Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga (16-9) vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (30-11-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: Let's not pretend that Mirko Filipovic is back with UFC because anyone behind the scenes actually wanted him there. This was a tactical move exercised to keep whatever name value the Croat still has, out of the meddlesome hands of Bellator MMA.

And like Dana White, Bellator boss Scott Coker also had a blank check, but one thing he did not have, was the Gabriel Gonzaga rematch.

This is all about pride ... in more ways than one.

That's relevant here because Filipovic's UFC record is embarrassing and he was violently finished in five of his six losses, including three straight before his short-lived retirement. Fortunately, he was able to get back to his winning ways on the international circuit, beating up a couple of Japanese punching bags while keeping himself conscious in sporadic kickboxing appearances.

Working in his favor is the fact that Gabriel Gonzaga has been equally putrid.

I do admire the Brazilian's "live by the sword" style of combat, but it's troublesome to watch a fighter who has been knocked out seven times in nine losses matched up against yet another striker, even one as weathered as "Cro Cop." What Gonzaga lacks in technique, he more than makes up for in power.

And his ground game, when he bothers to implement it, can be stifling.

That's really what this fight boils down to. Their first go-round was long, long ago, but it's still relevant in tomorrow's contest, because one thing that hasn't changed in nearly eight years is their skill sets. Filipovic is a dangerous striker with a decent sprawl, and Gonzaga is a hard-hitting gorilla with great jits and awful cardio.

Where does that leave us?

I think the older, wiser Filipovic will play cat-and-mouse early in this fight and rely on his counter-punch, like the one that drilled Bob Sapp, and it's no secret that he only needs to stay alive for the first five minutes. After that, Gonzaga will be out of gas and unable to do anything beyond the occasional haymaker -- one that gets him popped and dropped somewhere in the second frame.

Hey that reminds me ... are they drug testing in Poland?

Final prediction: Filipovic def. Gonzaga via technical knockout

205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz (18-3) vs. Jimi "Poster Boy" Manuwa (14-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: One of those things about MMA that really grinds my gears, is when a talented fighter like Jimi Manuwa -- who went 14-0 with 13 knockouts -- gets knocked out and loses on the big stage, and then suddenly becomes a worthless piece of trash.

He was overrated, exposed, never fought anybody good, blabbity-fucking-blah.

Getting stopped by Alexander Gustafsson, who at the time of their showdown was ranked No. 1 in the world behind Jon Jones, is not a career-ending defeat. What is important, however, is what kind of fighter emerges from that loss, especially at age 35.

Move over, silly Brits, I'm claiming squatter's rights on the "Poster's" boys.

There's a considerable amount of hype behind Jan Blachowicz, and for good reason. But his UFC debut -- a first-round shellacking of Ilir Latifi -- should be taken at face value. "The Sledgehammer's" claim to fame, aside from beating up geriatric strikers and UFC debutants, is playing the role of punching bag for Gegard Mousasi.

Prior to that, Blachowicz went to four straight decisions, including judges' nods over UFC rejects like Houston Alexander, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and Goran Reljic.

I'm not ready to crown him king of the 205-pound castle just yet.

Manuwa is the better athlete, more powerful in the clinch, and busier with his hands. I would have normally picked the "Poster Boy" by knockout, but I do believe he starts out a little gun shy in the opening frame, as he'll likely need a few minutes of action (read: get clipped) to exorcise those Swedish demons.

Once that happens, it's going to be two-and-a-half rounds of Whack-A-Mole.

Final prediction: Manuwa def. Blachowicz via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Pawel "Plastinho" Pawlak (10-1) vs. Sheldon Westcott (8-2-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: In keeping with the promotion's theme of featuring fighters on the main card who are coming off disappointing losses, Pawel Pawlak earns his spot by way of geography. Following his short-lived career as a gardener, "Plastinho" won "Newcomer of the Year" in the Polish MMA awards, something I didn't even know existed.

Must have been some list of nominees.

Anyway, he made his UFC debut nearly a year ago, thanks to a 10-fight winning streak that featured nine finishes. Impressive, but it didn't help him against Peter Sobotta when the two went to war in Germany. That doesn't mean he's not the top prospect he was expected to be, but he's got some work to do if he wants to make some noise at 170 pounds.

Going to be hard after ending up 0-2.

Like Pawlak, Westcott was expected to do great things inside the Octagon after running the table on the Canadian circuit. He performed admirably on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations," but went down in flames against Elias Theodorou in last April's live finale.

He hasn't competed since.

That said, Westcott is a massive 170-pounder, which means Pawlak needs to have an above-average skill set on the feet to avoid the shot (he doesn't), as well as have the wherewithal to survive a relentless, in-your-face mugging on the ground (he won't).

Westcott doesn't hold a marked advantage in talent, but he doesn't need to.

As we learned very early on in this sport, most beginning fighters can be defeated simply by being overwhelmed with aggression. "Plastinho" doesn't have the wrestling defense or the kind of game-changing strikes to stop the onslaught from his more powerful foe.

For my money, that equals an early exit.

Final prediction: Westcott def. Pawlak via technical knockout

115 lbs.: Joanne "Jo Jo" Calderwood (9-0) vs. Maryna "The Iron Woman" Moroz (5-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: What immediately stands out when comparing these two fighters is the level of experience. To her credit, Maryna Moroz has been able to jump out to a dominating start, racking up five wins along with five finishes. But that record can be deceiving.

Her entire career spans just 12 months.

In addition, she's competed strictly on the international circuit against the level of competition you would expect to find in women's MMA outside Untied States and to some extent, Japan. Her submissions, while impressive, are a result of her raw athleticism more than they are her ground skills.

And she gets no favors from UFC matchmakers in this one.

Joanne Calderwood is ranked No. 6 in the promotion and is one of the more devastating strikers at 115 pounds. She was unable to graduate TUF 20 after falling to Rose Namajunas, but the fact that she even competed in the reality show shark tank against the best strawweights in the world, undoubtedly tightened her game -- both physically and mentally.

"Jo Jo" also has her UFC debut in her back pocket, which means the jitters are up and gone.

Moroz can win this fight on the ground, but she does not have the skill necessary to get it there -- at least not against Calderwood. In addition, her defense is rudimentary and leaving yourself hittable against a Muay Thai machine the like Scot is a recipe for disaster.

I believe "The Iron Woman" is tough enough to survive, but she'll likely resemble a tattered speed bag by the time this one is said and done.

Final prediction: Calderwood def. Moroz via unanimous decision

That about does it. will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 64 fight card RIGHT HERE on Saturday morning, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass main card, slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET.

For much more on tomorrow's UFC Fight Night 64 event click here.

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