If you ask any seasoned, MMA fan what comes to mind when they hear the names Mirko “Cro Cop” and Gabriel Gonzaga, chances are you’ll hear the terms “head kick”, “massive” and “KO”.
Yes, the heavyweights threw down way back in 2007, and Gonzaga dropped jaws around the world by taking “Cro Cop” out with a skull bruising kick. The very technique that the vaunted striker is infamous for…
Well, here we are almost eight years later, and the two are set to fight again at UFC Fight Night 64. A lot has gone down since “Cro Cop” and Gonzaga fought at UFC 70, which is likely why the latter recently told MMA Junkie.com this:
“The first fight was eight years ago; think about how much has changed in this sport in eight years,” Gonzaga said. “Most of the fighters aren’t around anymore. We’ve changed a lot in eight years. I am not the same and he is not the same. It’s going to be a different fight, so I don’t even consider this a rematch. It’s a new fight.”
While Saturday’s scrap could end up going the same way–you never know–“Napao” is right. Not only are both men eight years older, but they’ve had that many, more years to hone and build their skills.
All this aside, it’s also a pivotal fight for both men. Gonzaga is coming off consecutive losses to Matt Mitrione and Stipe Miocic, while “Cro Cop” is returning to the UFC for the first time since 2011.
The 35 year-old Gonzaga clearly understands how important the bout is, as he also noted in the interview:
“I need to have a strong performance. That’s how this sport is. If you don’t win, then you are out. So I need to win this fight.”
Yep. A third consecutive loss, especially a one sided one, would be a big, big setback.
UFC FN 64 will go down at the Krakow Arena in Poland, and in the co-headliner, Jimi Manuwa will take on light-heavyweight, Jan Blachowicz.