Scroobius Pip is a UK rapper, spoken word poet and founder of Speech Development Records. He’s also a regular pundit on UFC programming.
1. Can Joanna Jedrzejczyk retain her title and start a long reign as strawweight champion?
You’re damn right she can. Whilst Jedrzejczyk burst seemingly out of nowhere for many UFC fans, her spectacular Muay Thai record (racking up over 60 wins) meant her demolition of Carla Esparza came as little shock to those in the know.
Due to The Ultimate Fighter strawweight season, a series stacked with genuine world-class athletes, along with the storm being whipped up by Paige VanZant, these are exciting times for the women’s 115lb division. There are a number of contenders waiting for a shot at Joanna’s belt and Jessica Penne is one of them.
Jessica is a former Invicta champ and was only eliminated on TUF by the eventual winner. That said, we all saw what Joanna did to Esparza and I can’t see this one going any differently. I see another big win for the Pole. She’s going to rule the strawweight division for a long time and fly the flag for European MMA.
2. Who will win the battle of the veterans between Dennis Siver and Tatsuya Kawajiri?
This is a matchup of two terrific MMA warhorses. Kawajiri has starred for promotions all over the world and is, in all likelihood, finally seeing out his career in the UFC.
Siver, on the other hand, has the bulk of his legacy built in the Octagon, pocketing seven bonuses in the process.
Both are coming off losses. Kawajiri dropped a Fight of the Night decision to Clay Guida, whilst Siver’s loss to Conor McGregor gave the Irishman a stepping stone towards that historic match-up with Jose Aldo at UFC 189.
As game as Kawajiri looked against Guida, and as deflated as Siver looked against McGregor, I’m backing the German in this one. Siver has an 8-1 record when fighting under the UFC banner in Europe. He’s nearing the end of his fine career and he’ll want to secure his legacy, particularly in front of his home fans. I think we’ll see the return of the European Spin-kicking Machine in Berlin - and that’s very bad news for Kawajiri.
3. Can "Mr. Finland" Makwan Amirkhani make a big noise on the European stage?
Make no mistake: Win, lose or draw, Makwan Amirkhani will make some serious noise in Berlin. The combination of his eight-second win over Andy Ogle in his UFC debut, some amazing post-fight charisma and his social media engagement with the fans has made a star out of Mr. Finland.
But don’t be fooled by the hype or the humour. He’s notched up no less than eight first-round submissions in his short career, proving that he has serious potential.
The only thing he has to do really is maintain his focus. His explosion on to the scene is almost identical to that of Niklas Backstrom. The Swede followed up a dream debut with a nightmare showing in front of his home fans in Stockholm.
Amirkhani should heed that warning.
That said, I can’t help but pick Mr. Finland for an entrance, win and exit that will have the crowd on their feet in Berlin.
4. Can Backstrom bounce back?
This card feels a bit like the end of term at college when half the people paired up have some kind of history with half of the others.
UFC Stockholm was a disaster for the European talent. Having seen Brazilian and Irish cards so often be celebrations for the local fighters, UFC Stockholm saw many of the hometown heroes brought crashing down to earth.
Backstrom suffered his first career loss and, as heartbreaking as it must have been at the time, it might be better to experience that sooner rather than later.
The Swede has been very highly regarded in Europe for a good few years now. He marked his UFC debut with an impressive finish of Tom Niinimaki and a remarkable post-fight Octagon dance. It was a hell of a way for the 25 year-old fighter to announce himself in the bright lights of the UFC.
After having the plug yanked so jarringly from the socket by Mike Wilkinson, I expect Backstrom to come back all the more focused. He’ll notch a win over Noad Lahat, plug his mental jukebox back in and lead the victory dance in Berlin.
Watch UFC Fight Night Jedrzejczyk vs. Penne LIVE on UFC FIGHT PASS this Saturday, June 20 or for free on PICK TV in the UK and Ireland.