A week after Demian Maia quickly finished Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 21, the UFC is back in action in Hamburg, Germany. It’s been over a year since the UFC last touched down in Germany, as Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her belt against Jessica Penne at UFC Fight Night 69 in Berlin.
Headlining the event, is two veteran Heavyweights in the form of Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett. Arlovski, looks to end a two fight skid, something he hasn’t dealt with since his four fight losing streak stretching from 2009-2011. However since, Arlovski has gone 10-3 (1 No contest) in his last 14 fights. His combatant, Barnett most recently suffered his first loss via submission (tap out) in 42 professional fights to no other than Ben Rothwell. The loss halted momentum picked up after the destruction of Roy Nelson, but Barnett has a chance here to possibly vault himself back into the top 5 with a victory.
Co-Headlining, is the return of “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson, who will look to end a two fight skid that’s had him contemplating retirement against Jan Blachowicz. Gustafsson, most recently was defeated via split decision to Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight belt. That was back in October of 2015, so it’s been nearly a year since he last stepped into the Octagon. His opponent, Blachowicz most recently defeated Igor Pokrajac in a less than exciting fight. Nevertheless, the win halted a two fight skid and potentially his pink slip. And if anything is certain here, Blachowicz has a real opportunity to gain some notoriety with a victory over Alexander Gustafsson.
Other names on the card include Ryan Bader, Ilir Latifi, Nick Hein, Peter Sobotta and Rustam Khabilov. Anyways, enough build up, let’s just get to the predictions!
UFC Fight Pass Main Card (3 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett – Talk about two fighters, who have been around the game for over 15 years in the same weight class and have somehow never fought each other. It’s crazy, but hey, it’s a fresh matchup in the Heavyweight division. Anyways, Arlovski looks to erase a two fight skid, one in which prior to, had him him closing in on an improbable title shot. I mean, after he lost four fight in a row in a stretch from 2009-2011, everyone stated that he has no chin anymore and seemingly should just retire. Well, that couldn’t of been further from the truth. His combatant Barnett, has been much more active of late, but more recently suffered defeat at the hands of Heavyweight contender Ben Rothwell. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering Barnett was decisively beating Rothwell until the submission. As for the prediction, I’m going with Barnett here. I think he has more weapons to win this fight and he’s very cerebral in his approach. Arlovski is more of a brawler who looks for the one punch knockout, which has more than often worked. But, Barnett not only an experienced striker, but his catch wrestling is probably the best in MMA. He’s going to mix in some takedowns and pressure Arlovski with submission attempts. Barnett is going to turn this fight into a grind, one in which is going to wear down Arlovski, eventually leading to a submission victory for “The Warmaster”.
205 lbs.: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jan Blachowicz – Honestly, after Jan Blachowicz’s last fight, I’m not even going to break this one down. And it’s obvious that this is nothing but a tune up fight to get Gustafsson back on course. The semi-retired and non-motivated Gustafsson will certainly have his demons in the fight, but his opponent won’t capitalize on a golden opportunity. Instead he will stand there hesitant, awaiting for Gustafsson to finish him via KO!
205 lbs.: Ryan Bader vs. Ilir Latifi – This is a great Light Heavyweight contest and a huge opportunity for Latifi, as a chance to crack the Top Ten hangs in the balance. Latifi, is currently riding on a three fight win streak, two of which have come via first round knockout. For a guy who replaced training partner Alexander Gustafsson on four days notice against Gegard Mousasi in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 9, he’s had a really unsuspectingly successful UFC career. His combatant, Ryan Bader is most recently coming off a first round knockout to Anthony Johnson. The defeat halted a five fight win streak, one in which had Bader on the cusp of a title shot. A chance to reset and start over begins now, but this isn’t an easy fight by any stretch of the matter. Latifi has loaded hands and is a strong grappler, so it would be wise of Bader to keep distance and use the jab often. In other words, do exactly what Gegard Mousasi did. Will he? Probably not, as Bader often runs himself into terrible situations like against Lyoto Machida, Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira. I think history repeats itself and Latifi scores a massive upset via KO!
155 lbs.: Tae Hyun Bang vs. Nick Hein – Since 2008, Bang has had a pattern of alternating losses and wins. His last fight was a win, so that means a loss right? Correct and Nick Hein, who is 3-1 inside the Octagon is the type of fighter that’s going to edge this one out via decision – as he seemingly always does. So with that, I have Hein via decision!
UFC Fight Pass Under Card (12:00 a.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Jessin Ayari vs. Jim Wallhead – I have no idea who Ayari is, but I know Wallhead from his time in Cage Warriors and BAMMA. And I always thought he would get into the UFC, but much sooner. However a four fight win streak, including 3 knockouts has allowed him to finally arrive. As for a prediction, like I said, I have no idea who Ayari is – so I have Wallhead taking this one via knockout!
170 lbs.: Nicolas Dalby vs. Peter Sobotta – I’m picking Dalby here, as he’s just one of those Frankie Edgar type fighters. He attacks you with volume in strikes, he can withstand punishment and keep on coming forward and he’s got excellent cardio. Now, I like Peter Sobotta, but if he can get this one to the ground, he’s going to be a sitting duck for Dalby to hit over and over again. And that’s what’s going to happen, as I have Dalby winning via dominant deicision.
135 lbs.: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Veronica Macedo – All I know is that Macedo is a beautiful Venezuelan and Ashlee Evans-Smith is going to win this. I mean, Evans-Smith definitely didn’t win her last fight, but her striking looked more improved. She also will have a 5′ reach advantage. So with that, I have Evans-Smith winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Leandro Issa vs. Taylor Lapilus – This fight comes down to two options, either Issa gets Lapilus down and teaches him a lesson about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Lapilus keeps his range and picks apart Issa on the feet. I’m going with the latter, only for the sheer fact that I think the Frenchman Lapilus has so much potential to be a real threat down the road at lightweight. So with that, I have Lapilus via decision.
265 lbs.: Christian Colombo vs. Jarjis Danho – Two Heavyweights, one in which I have no idea about except for the fact that his nickname is “Godzilla” and the other I’ve seen fight before, perhaps wishing I didn’t. That was Danho, who apparently is a touted prospect, but what I saw was either a super green fighter or someone who doesn’t know what technique is. And just based off that performance alone, I’m picking Colombo via KO!
185 lbs.: Scott Askham vs. Jack Hermansson – This one has violence all over it, as two finishers collide in what could potentially be your “Fight of the Night”. Scott Askham, a four fight veteran in the UFC, will look to build off his first round KO over Chris Dempsey. As for his opponent, the promotional newcomer Hermansson will look to extend his eight fight win streak. As for a prediction, Askham steps into this with a 79% finishing rate and Hermansson a 85% finishing rate. In other words, someone is going to sleep and I’m predicting that it’s Hermansson. Those Octagon jitters are real and are going to have Hermansson hesistant and wild at times, leading him right into the clinch where Askham will deliver a knee from hell. Askham via KO!
155 lbs.: Rustam Khabilov vs. Leandro Silva – This one shouldn’t even be close. Khaibilov is a borderline top 15 lightweight, meanwhile Silva is borderline fodder. Khabilov via a one-sided beatdown, eventually submitting in the third round.