The UFC returns to Berlin, Germany almost a year after the last visit. As one of the most vibrant cities in Europe this creates a huge buzz for all European fans.
The card has been fraught with injuries and isn’t particularly strong, but these cards aren’t about strength or storytelling, they mean little to the rankings and won’t identify a new contender; they are just a beat down, drag ‘em out fight night. Its only four fights on the main card, I fancy some upsets so let’s check out the odds provided by 5Dimes to see if you agree.
Sajewski v Hein:
As with all UFC cards outside the US borders there are a high number of local fighters making their debuts, one such fighter is Lukasz Sajewski. Hailing from Poland and having missed the Krakow card earlier in the year a debut in Germany is the next best thing. Known as ‘Wookie’ he brings an undefeated record and a submission-heavy style into the octagon.
Nick Hein made his own UFC debut when the promotion reached Berlin a year ago, where he bested Drew Dober en route to a unanimous decision victory. In his second fight he dropped a decision to rising star, James Vick to bring him back down to earth with a bump.
In a hard fight to pick from I have a natural lean towards the Polish newcomer. MMA is on the rise in Eastern Europe and Poland has been producing some monsters of late. It’s either an early win by submission, or a decision victory, and I’ll be making a small play on Sajewski at plus money.
Recommendation: Lukasz Sajewski – 1 unit at +145 (29/20) @ 5Dimes
Sobotta v Kennedy:
For Peter Sobotta his second spell with the UFC has already exceeded his first after just one fight. With three prior appearances for the promotion Sobotta had failed to register a victory, which changed with the return to Berlin last year and a decisive win over Pawel Pawlak. That was his first fight in almost two years of semi-retirement and now that the UFC is back in Germany, so is he.
When Sergio Moraes was forced off the card with injury the door was left wide open for newcomer Steve Kennedy to walk through. Kennedy, ranked the #1 Welterweight in Australia took the fight on just 11 days’ notice; barely enough time to even set up a training camp let alone complete one.
On paper it would be reasonable to expect Sobotta to win this by submission, surprisingly for a BJJ Black Belt this has been an Achilles heel for Kennedy over the years. However the last time he tapped was in 2012 to Strikeforce and UFC vet Jesse Taylor. Since then he has gone 7-0 with four of those coming by way of submission. For that reason alone I think that this could be an early finish, so I am taking the Unders here.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes
Siver v Kawajiri:
No fight night in Germany would be complete without an appearance by Dennis Siver. He sadly missed out on the last appearance in Berlin as he was serving a suspension for a failed drugs test, but there was nothing to stop Germany’s favourite MMA fighter this time out. He will be keen to put on a show for his fellow countrymen after a decisive loss to Conor McGregor in his previous appearance. At 36 the veteran kickboxer still has a huge amount to offer the sport, particularly outside of the U.S.
Tatsuya Kawajiri is the man that time forgot. A veteran of Dream, Strikeforce, K1, One FC, Pride and the UFC there is precious little that he hasn’t fought for, but time is running out. His debut was a convincing win over newcomer Sean Soriano but was outworked everywhere by Clay Guida in his next. Guida outworks everyone so that’s hardly a surprise, but at 37 his game just isn’t what it used to be.
It isn’t often that Siver steps into the octagon as the younger man, but that’s what happens this weekend. Kawajiri is battle worn and carries little left other than durability. It will be a shock if he wins, although I do expect him to last the full three rounds. With that, I am taking Siver to secure the win by any means necessary.
Recommendation: Dennis Siver – 2 units at -170 (3/5) @ 5Dimes
Jedrzejczyk v Penne:
With the original main event scrapped due to injury newly crowned Women’s Straw weight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, makes her first defence next door to her homeland. JJ, as you may remember, lit up and dominated former champion, Carla Esparza, in one of the most one sided title fights in recent history, stopping her opponent in the second round. Such was her domination that immediately she was given the moniker of the Ronda Rousey of the 115lb division. It’s a brave call and only time will tell if it is premature.
Former TUF competitor Jessica Penne has been lucky enough to secure a title shot after a single win in the UFC, a split decision win over Randa Markos at the TUF Finale in December. It wasn’t a spectacular victory, in fact it wasn’t even one of the better performances on the night but her veteran status has propelled her to the cusp of greatness.
While JJ demonstrated in her last fight that she can finish a fighter it isn’t something that she is known for, despite being a Muay Thai specialist. She dominated Esparza in part due to a massive size difference, one that she won’t have over the durable Penne. While it is possible Penne can beat JJ I don’t think that she will, however her resistance should hold out into the later rounds.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at -150 (4/6) @ 5Dimes
For this week’s parlay bet I am taking Scott Askham at -230 (7/10), Mairbek Taisumov at -170 (3/5) and Makwan Amirkhani at -240 (2/5) for a +280 (14/5) treble for 1 unit.