In all honesty, the main card for this event is pretty damn good, for a Fight Pass card. The headliner is a championship bout featuring one of the sport’s fastest rising stars, the co-main is intriguing, and the first two bouts feature some interesting German prospects, as well as a notable German journeyman. For a Fight Pass, card, it’s hard to expect anything more than this.
Here are my picks for today’s main card.
Main card (3/2c, UFC Fight Pass)
Nick Hein (11-2, 1NC) vs. Lukasz Sajewski (13-0)
the main card’s opening bout could be quite fun. Hein will be fighting in his home country, hoping to avoid a second straight loss. Six of his last seven wins have come via decision, but he still has the ability to choke his opponents out, as he did to open up the first four bouts of his career.
Meanwhile, Sajewski is a bright Polish prospect who has pulled off four late first-round armbars. Surely, the UFC is hoping Sajewski is legit, and can become a staple on European cards down the road. However, if he can’t take Hein down, he might get knocked out. The head says Hein, but I’m picking the Pole nonetheless. Prediction: Sajewski via unanimous decision.
Peter Sobotta (14-4-1) vs. Steve Kennedy (22-6)
Up next is a bout that has received virtually no acknowledgement whatsoever. Truth be told, it deserves some shine. Prior to returning to the UFC in April’s Poland card, Sobotta had reeled off five straight first round rear-naked choke wins. He will be fighting in his home country, and will surely be extra amped up for the fight as a result.
Sobotta’s opponent may be a relative unknown, but he’s certainly no joke. Kennedy has finished 17 of his 22 victorious fights, with eight ending via knockout, and nine via submission. He has won seven straight fights, and since his third career bout, has followed up every loss with a winning streak. Unfortunately, this might mean that he’s due for a letdown. As a result, I see Sobotta winning a very typical fight, in a contest that may wind up going the distance. Prediction: Sobotta via unanimous decision.
(12) Dennis Siver (22-10, 1NC) vs. (15) Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-8-2)
Co-hedlining the card is perhaps the greatest German fighter in MMA history, Dennis Siver. He may be past his prime, but so is his opponent. Regardless, I see both men putting on a fun scrap. Siver is 12-7 with a no contest in an amazing 20 career UFC bouts, debuting for the promotion back in 2007. He is best known for his Taekwondo, possessing a black belt in the discipline. He has gone 2-1 with a no contest in his last four, and will be looking to shake off the sickening feeling that may have resulted from his one-sided beating at the hands of Conor McGregor back in January.
Meanwhile, Kawajiri is somewhat of a legend in MMA. The man was considered the top Lightweight in the world ten years ago, and put on a battle for the ages against fellow Japanese great Takanori Gomi in that same year. Alas, he is also past his prime, being 37 years of age going into this fight. Siver is only a few years younger, but still a formidable opponent. Kawajiri is a Class A Shootist, and has almost as many submission and decision wins in the UFC (ten apiece) as he does knockouts (12.)
In the end, I see this being a fairly fun bout. Both fighters will have their moments, and no result will surprise me. My gut tells me the hometown hero will come away with the victory, but I just cannot bear to pick against “The Crusher.” I have not done so since he entered the UFC, and I will not pick today to start doing so. Prediction: Kawajiri via unanimous decision.
UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship: C) Joanna Jedrzeczyk (9-0) vs. Jessica Penne (12-2)
Closing out the card is the first ever UFC championship fight in Fight Pass history. In it, rising Polish star Joanna Jedrzeczyk will look to successfully defend her title against former Invicta Atomweight Champion Jessica Penne.
Honestly, I simply do not see this matchup as the squash match many have been claiming it as being. Penne is no joke, and possesses an excellent ground game. She is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has won seven times via submission. She also possesses better striking that Carla Esparza did, making this a more intriguing fight, in hindsight, than the fight which saw Jedrzeczyk win the belt just three months ago.
However, as good as Penne’s ground game is, Joanna champion’s striking is even better. A Muai Thai star with over 60 career Muai Thai fights, as well as six championships within the sport, Jedrzeczyk is by far the most elite striker in the division. Heck, she might have the best striking of any female MMA fighter on the planet! Add in the excellent takedown defense she has showcased throughout her career, and it’s hard to see Penne fare any better than Esparza did.
However, I believe that Penne will land a takedown early, and take the early lead, before Joanna closes out the opening round with a flurry. From then on, I see Jedrzeczyk dominating, ultimately pulling off the victory midway through the fight. Prediction: Jedrzeczyk via tko, round 3.