Hello and welcome to “Predictions”, where I intend to make wildly speculative and vaguely evidenced predictions on weekly MMA events. This week I am making predictions for UFC fight Night Hamburg that kicks off this Sunday from the Barclaycard Arena. I will also be going over my predictions from last week for UFC Boise, in which I did indeed get some right and some wrong.
First off, let’s look at my predictions from last week.
JUSTIN SCOGGINS VS SAID NURMAGOMEDOV
Prediction – SAID NURMAGOMEDOV BY DECISION
Result – SAID NURMAGOMEDOV BY DECISION
CAT ZINGANO VS MARION RENAU
Prediction – MARION RENEAU BY SUBMISSION RD 2
Result – CAT ZINGANO BY DECISION
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS VS BLAGOY IVANOV
Prediction – JUNIOR DOS SANTOS BY TKO RD 3
Result – JUNIOR DOS SANTOS BY DECISION
In the words of Meatloaf, “now don’t be sad, ‘cause 1.5/3 ain’t bad.”
The way the Said Nurmagomedov fight went, I almost feel it’s unfair to claim I got this one right. Whilst Justin Scoggins did indeed keep Said on the feet for the first round, he did it for the majority of the fight, and in many viewers eyes, deserved the decision win. Nurmagomedov’s gameplan was indeed to get the takedown but he struggled to find it and was even dropped in the second round for his endeavours. Perhaps against a more traditional Thai striker or American wrestler, we will see if Nurmagomedov can show some of the talent his Eagle’s MMA teammates have shown in the UFC so far.
In the fight between Cat Zingano and Marion Reneau, I was so close to being right yet so far away. Cat showed great improvements across her game in this fight, utilising some great kicks and, as I expected, some slick throws as well, looking generally untroubled through the fight, except for a sequence during the second round. After getting the takedown and relaxing, Marion managed to get Cat into the beginnings of a triangle that had me jumping, however, Cat managed to work her way out, and though she was put into another couple of positions of similar jeopardy, never really looked in any danger.
In the main event, I’m giving myself a half a point for picking Junior and for noting that he would get clipped with a left he should have seen. Ivanov struggled to get inside at any point, his seeking jabs landing for him sporadically through the fight. Both men quickly looked gassed and there were many restful clinches against the cage. Junior did look to be the more likely to score a TKO but at no point in the fight was there any sense of urgency from either fighter. Hopefully, we will see them both again in the octagon with more inspired performances.
Now that’s covered, on to this weekend’s UFC Hamburg, headlined by an ageing Shogun Rua and the late replacement, Anthony Smith, neither of whom are from Germany, or even this side of the Atlantic. Smith got his headlining spot opposite Rua thanks to some moving and shaking in the light heavyweight division, as Rua’s original opponent, Volkan Oezdemir was moved to face Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 227 after their fight was originally scheduled to take place in Chile but was moved to Hamburg due to visa issues for Oezdemir. Oezdemir’s fight with Gustafsson has also since been cancelled due to an injury sustained in training camp. Still, follow?
Though not headlined by any European fighters, 16 of 26 fighters making an appearance will call somewhere in Europe home, 5 of them coming from Germany, surely hoping to get a magical home win, which brings me to my predictions for this week.
EMIL MEEK VS BARTOSZ FABINSKI
In the second of 5 all European bouts on the card, the Norwegian Viking Emil Meek takes on The Butcher from Poland, Bartosz Fabinski at welterweight. Meek is coming off of a frustrating loss to Kamaru Usman back in January in which Meek looked dangerous on his feet but was smothered by Usman’s controlling wrestling, and it is that game plan Fabinski will surely look to replicate, taking his last 2 wins in a similar fashion against Garreth Mclellan and Hector Urbina. I think its very likely that Fabinski will shoot in the first 30 seconds of round 1 and the outcome of that shot will really determine the result of the fight. If Meek can stuff it, I’d be very surprised to see him leave with anything less than a KO victory, but if Fabinski does get it, I suspect another disappointing performance may await for him. Fabinski will do well to boost his name with a scalp such as Meek’s and I expect him to get close with a rear naked choke at some point in the fight if he does get the dominant position on the ground at any point. Still, I would expect a lesson as tough as the one Meek got in the Usman fight may pay dividends, and see him leaving with a KO in round 2 after surviving a gruelling round on his back.
Prediction – EMIL MEEK BY KO RD2
MARC DIAKIESE VS NASRAT HAQPARAST
Potentially the most exciting fight on the card, England’s Marc Diakiese takes on the hometown hamburger Nasrat Haqparast. Both men are coming off of losses, with Diakiese on a 2 fight skid dropping a decision to Drakkar Klose and a third-round guillotine to Dan Hooker. Meanwhile, Haqparast lost a decision to Marcin Held before having a fight with Alex Reyes fail to materialise back in March. Though Diakiese lost his last 2, he showed great skills on the feet against Klose and tonnes of heart in the Hooker fight, which will come into play in this fight. Haqparast will surely meet any momentum with more of it with a chance to represent his country in front of his own fans, so long as the pressure does not cause him to wilt. Similarly to the Meek and Fabinski fight, I suspect Haqparast will look for a takedown as early as possible to begin showcasing his ground and pound abilities but may end up stuck along the fence as Diakiese has spent some time at American Top Team working on his takedown defence. With 2 losses behind him and an uncertain future with a third, caution will play a big factor for Diakiese and I suspect it will carry him to a decision victory, but hopefully with a bit of flare and with something for the Germans to cheer about as well.
Prediction- MARC DIAKIESE BY DECISION
MAURICIO RUA VS ANTHONY SMITH
In the main event, I suspect we are going to get a fight that will be immortalised in gif form and shared relentlessly afterwards, one way or the other. Neither man has seen a judge’s scorecard since 2016 and neither has seen a boring fight either. Smith comes to the cage as a late replacement coming off of a career-ending KO of former UFC Light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, though the Evans he met in the cage was a former shell of the man who won the belt 10 years ago. Rua, on the other hand, is coming off of a waltzer of a bout with Gian Villante, in which both men looked close to being finished multiple times in the fight, with “Shogun”’s experience carrying him to the TKO victory early in the third round. This fight is going to come down to the conditioning of each man, as Smith will surely be feeling a bit beaten down by 2 camps and weight cuts in quick succession, even if he is only cutting to 205 lb instead of the 185lb middleweight limit he met in all bouts before the Evans fight. The move up to light heavyweight itself could be an indicator that the cut to 185lb was troubling Smith, but moving up a weight class does not guarantee an increase in the gas tank. Rua has been fighting in 2002, the same year Josh Barnett became the youngest ever heavyweight champion. Since then he has fought a who’s who of MMA legends, taking wins from Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson and Alistair Overeem to name a select few, as well as sharing a cage with (and losing his belt too) the bad boy GOAT, Jon Jones. I think it is this experience that will carry Shogun to a TKO victory in a similar fashion to the Villante fight, but I do not doubt it could go the opposite direction at any moment.
Prediction- SHOGUN RUA BY TKO RD3
Once again I will return next week to dissect my predictions from this week and look ahead to UFC Fight Night Alberta.