In a landmark announcement the UFC today confirmed the date and venue for the first ever UFC event in Poland and stacked the card with two incredible fights.
The announcement, made by Polish rising star Jan Blachowicz at a press conference in Stockholm on the eve of UFC Fight Night GUSTAFSSON vs JOHNSON, confirmed that the event will take place on April 11 at the Krakow Arena.
After a three year absence legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic returns to the Octagon to meet Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga in the headline event, while Blachowicz returns home to Poland to meet no. 10 ranked Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa, in a co-main event clash with big implications for the 205 lb. class.
Squaring off against former Pride 2006 Open-Weight Champion “Cro Cop” will be Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace “Napao” in a rematch that MMA fans have been clamoring to have for years.
In 2007, Gonzaga scored a highlight reel knockout of Filipovic at UFC 70 and now “Cro Cop” seeks revenge as he looks to secure his legacy in the UFC by avenging one of his most agonising defeats and re-establish himself as a force in the heavyweight division. Hoping to spoil the homecoming, Gonzaga is out to prove his win all those years ago was no fluke and show fans worldwide that he can still mix it up with the best in the world.
Blachowicz, who scored a stunning first round TKO of Ilir Latifi in his UFC debut in October, knows a win over Manuwa will likely secure him his first top 15 ranking and announce his intentions to make a statement in the light heavyweight division. Never one to struggle under the bright lights, Manuwa will look to silence Blachowicz’s adoring fans and return to the ways that saw him win his first 14 fights, including three vicious TKO’s to start his UFC career. A victory for the “Poster Boy” would continue his meteoric rise and will surely start the chatter again of a possible future title contender.
Poland’s Kraków Arena will host the country’s first live UFC event on April 11. With both the contingent of Polish athletes now fighting in the UFC and the number of Polish MMA fans growing at a phenomenal rate, David Allen, Senior Vice President and General Manager for UFC in EMEA today explained that Poland was a country which simply could not be ignored this year:
“Poland has been on our radar for a long time now,” Allen said. “This is a country that celebrates combat sports so we knew that holding an event here would excite the whole country. This event could rival last year’s Dublin event. We expect it to sell-out, without a doubt.”