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Fight Night Krakow Aftermath: The One In Poland…

(And in that moment, a million “Because PRIDE!!” chants were heard. Via Getty)

By Cody Severtson

UFC Fight Night: Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga II. — one look at the headliner of last Saturday’s mid-afternoon card could only think of one thing…or maybe one other thing. It was an event that featured many debuts, a few upsets, a tonne of terribly boring decisions, a completely uninterested crowd, and surprisingly, a pretty sweet finale. So let’s break it down, shall we?

“It wasn’t a COMPLETELY terrible card” is probably the highest praise you could give Fight Night 64. There were some spots of brilliance; Cro Cop’s vengeance, Maryna Moroz’s massive upset, and Aleksandra Albu successfully debuting, which will give CagePotato at least 6 more Hot Potato articles to “write” in the next year. There was, however, a good hour and a half stretch in the middle of the main card (and pretty much the entirety of the undercard) where absolutely nothing worthwhile happened. Fight Night 64 was a card that had us asking ourselves a question that we’ve been asking more and more these days:

Is this really what qualifies as the highest level of MMA?

Constantly, we’ve been told that “THE UFC IS NOT WATERED DOWN!”, but can anyone from Zuffa honestly look me dead in the eye after this event and say the card that Fight Night 64 was reflective of the highest level of MMA in the world? Can the UFC really survive off cards where there are, at most, 3 ranked fighters? Or only two fights with relevance to their division? Or where 50% of competitors are making their debut? Or where the other 50% are on losing streaks?

Just look at some of the stats about the fighters featured on this card and tell me that we’re wrong.

-Tonight featured 10 fighters making their debut, 4 of whom surprisingly went 2-2 against UFC “vets.”

-Of the 14 UFC “vets” on the card (no other way to describe them), only 3 were on win streaks! That’s 11 fighters total on losing streaks of 1 loss or more, with the main eventers combined for a UFC streak of 5 losses.

-Of those win streaks, Sergio Moraes‘ stood tallest at 2 wins in a row. You read that right…THE BEST ACTIVE STREAK AT THIS EVENT WAS 2 WINS.

-The remaining 11 UFC “vets” were ALL on losing streaks.

-Despite being a card in Poland, Polish fighters went 2-7 on the night, with wins coming from Bartosz Fabinski and the guy who gave Peter Sobotta his first win in the UFC after 4 tries.

-Of the 24 fighters on the card, only 2 fighters were ranked in the top 10: Jimi Manuwa, who was somehow still ranked #7 despite a year of inactivity (smh), and Joanne Calderwood, ranked #6 in a division of 26 people.

-Speaking of layoffs, 5 fighters who competed last weekend had not seen cage time in a year or more.

-Aleksandra Albu had the longest gap between fights at 615 days (and don’t tell me she hasn’t had 4 other fights in that time not otherwise listed)

-Damian Stasiak should have some leniency when the brass is evaluating pink slips, as he had the quickest turnaround of any fighter on the card, fighting only 14 days ago..

-Fight Night 64 was the first event since Ben Henderson vs. Brandon Thatch to award a “Fight of the Night” bonus

On top of these stats, we were treated with the announcement of Jacare Souza’s new opponent; stepping up on 6 days’ notice is none other than…Chris Camozzi. This is obviously great news for Chris, who once again finds himself back in the UFC after a pretty horrible losing streak in his last run.

Chris Camozzi vs. Ronaldo Souza 2 is the co-main event for UFC on Fox. This is the state of the UFC in 2015. Clearly, you should be thrilled for this barnburner to come, as many of us were.

“At least the found someone…”

“Acceptable on short notice…”

No. Not “at least.” Not “acceptable.” If you are a fan who spent $1500 on floor tickets or $250 for the nosebleeds, you are not thinking, “Oh cool, the event I spent my hard earned money on to go see is falling to pieces. I guess that’s acceptable, at least they found someone!

Granted, I don’t think anyone in Newark, New Jersey is buying tickets to go see Jacare Souza fight. but it’s the principle. You have a top 10 opponent whose opponent was injured at the last-minute — nothing you can do about that. But since the best you can apparently do on 6 days notice is get a guy with an abysmal record in his last 5 fights, you just roll with it because of the “Any Given Sunday” mentality or whatever. This is the UFC absolutely 100% skirting around the issue that they are seriously lacking contenders, quality opponents, and/or the desire to pay these higher-ranked athletes what they deserve to accept a fight on such short notice.

And then this is how you defend it.

As a fan base, should we really just take whatever we can get? Should we be expected to applaud the fact that at the very least “somebody stepped up?” Did anyone ask “Hey, if nobody relevant to the division steps up than maybe… nobody will mind if we just delay this fight?” I mean it’s not like Chris Weidman’s rocking 3 fights a year at his pace!

From a numbers perspective, why did anyone think that a rematch between these two was really the solution? Chris Camozzi left the UFC after going 4 losses straight against decreasing quality of competitors. Jacare Souza (who I guess I should mention, absolutely smoked Camozzi LESS THAN TWO YEARS AGO) has knocked Okami out of the UFC, beat Francis Carmont AND finished Gegard Mousasi (something Lyoto fucking Machida could not do). But because Camozzi begged to take the fight well I guess then it makes sense and we should all shut up and accept it because we’re dummies and we’re not true fight fans and this card is stacked and he’s a beast and it’s a great rematch and such and such, well ok that’s the end of that discussion I guess

Look, the MMA community is a tough group to please; it’s never going to happen where collectively everyone says “you know what, we all like this!” However, THINGS LIKE THIS are not going to change the MMA collective’s opinion on the declining quality of cards in the UFC! And no amount of dummy-calling is going to convince me otherwise!

But hey, not everything sucked about Fight Night 64. We got to watch a 40-year old Mirko Cro Cop — whose last two victories in MMA came over the same guy — score redemption by hammering out a rival who happened to be on a two-fight losing streak. And it was glorious. And that’s where the glory ends.

Excuse me while I see myself out.

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