UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC Fight Night: Jedrzejczyk vs. Penne, taking place Saturday, June 20
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Even if you don’t know the proper Volkssprache, that won’t prevent you from enjoying Fight Night Berlin. Live from the O2 Arena in Berlin, Germany, strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk tries to continue her reign of terror over the 115-pound division and copy editors. Standing in her way will be former Invicta champ and greatest pasta-based MMA fighter Jessica Penne. In the co-main event of the evening, the guy that fought Conor McGregor that one time (aka Dennis Siver) faces Tatsuya Kawajiri. Grab some currywurst, it’s fight time!
NICK HEIN VS. LUKASZ SAJEWSKI
The main card opens in the lightweight division with Nick Hein and Lukasz Sajewski. Fighting out of Cologne (the best smelling city in the world), Hein looks to bounce back from a loss against James Vick his last time out. A counter striker, Hein has a 100% takedown defense rate. A strong prospect from Poland, Sajewski makes his UFC debut. A capable boxer, he likes to drag opponents down and work from top position.
As much as I’d like to root for someone nicknamed “Wookiee,” I can’t do it. It’s not because I have any ill will toward my friends from Kashyyk. It’s just that I think he’ll do about as well as his brethren in the Mandalorian Wars. He’ll put up an initial fight, but the firepower of Hein will be too much to handle. Hein doesn’t have breakaway speed or power, but he’ll do enough over the course of three rounds to beat Sajewski to the unanimous decision. Hopefully next time the Pole achieves a victory like the Battle of Yuuzhan’tar.
PETER SOBOTTA VS. STEVEN KENNEDY
Next we move to welterweight for Peter Sobotta and Steven Kennedy. Sobotta’s second stint in the UFC began successfully back in May of 2014, when he secured a unanimous decision win over Pawel Pawlak. A well-rounded fighter, jiu-jitsu is his strongest suit, as nine of his career wins have come via submission. A late replacement, Steven Kennedy makes his debut inside the Octagon. Holding eight career KOs and nine submissions, “Steamrolla” must really like Guy Ritchie movies.
Whenever you fight someone whose gym affiliation is “Kickass MMA,” you have to be wary. It’s not like you can just name your team that. There’s a long legal process that involves having to prove that you can kick an adequate amount of ass. But...he’s running into a guy from Team Planet Eater. Sobotta doesn’t have the best takedowns, but he’ll either pull guard or find a way to get the fight to the mat. From there, it will be what the Germans call a fait accompli (editor’s note: that’s actually French). Sobotta by submission in the first.
DENNIS SIVER VS. TATSUYA KAWAJIRI
We drop to featherweight for Dennis Siver and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Siver is a dynamic striker who confuses opponents with attacks from a variety of angles. The 36-year-old has had a rough go of it the last few years and could really use a win in front of his countrymen. Sidelined by an eye injury, Japanese star Kawajiri lost his last fight against Clay Guida.
There’s nothing spectacular about Kawajiri’s striking. Siver certainly has more technique, but his output leaves something to be desired. For as dynamic as his stand-up attack can be, Siver loads up on too many of his strikes. This works to Kawajiri’s advantage, as he’ll be able to crowd his opponent and force him against the fence. Kawajiri may not be able to hold Siver down for extended periods, but he’ll get enough takedowns to grab the decision and pull the upset.
JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK VS. JESSICA PENNE
Time for the main event! You may not have known how to pronounce or spell Jedrzejczyk back in March, but it didn’t matter, as she stormed in and delivered a brutal beatdown of Carla Esparza to claim the 115-pound title. A vicious Muay Thai striker, she has an 80.85% takedown defense rate. Jessica Penne will try to decrease that percentage. Competent on the feet, this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt really shines on the ground. After a couple wins on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, she earned her first official UFC win with a decision over Randa Markos.
There’s always a tendency to overvalue a champion after they take a belt. People are ready to crown Fabricio Werdum the unstoppable heavyweight juggernaut, but they said the same thing about Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emelianenko. Remember that whole “Machide Era” thing, too? The point is, the champions are never as invincible as we might think. Carla Esparza beat Rose Namajunas, but looked helpless against Jedrzejczyk. Having said that, JJ should still win here.
Penne has a lot of talent, but I don’t see how she gets it to the mat. She has wrestling, but Esparza is a far better wrestler than her, and she couldn’t finish it. Jedrzejczyk’s aggression and technique will eventually take its toll and she wins by second round TKO.
That wraps up another Downes Side that even Otto von Bismarck would call ausgezeichnet. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, derelictions, benedictions or prescriptions on the page here. Prost!