UFC Fight Night 41: Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC returns this weekend with two fight cards on Saturday. The first will be exclusive to Fight Pass, and UFC Fight Night 41 marks the return to Germany for the company.
The card, which is headlined by middleweights Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi, is heavy on European talent and up-and-coming talent. It is a good card to catch if you are up in the late morning or early afternoon and want to watch some developing talent.
UFC 173 was not the kindest to me, though I managed to stay above .500. With any luck, these prelims will bring my record up.
Before the main card, we have some solid preliminary fights. Let's check out those bouts and make some predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 64-45
Last Event: UFC 173 (4-3)
Ruslan Magomedov vs. Viktor Pesta
We kick off the preliminary card with the big boys, as Russian heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov and Czech Viktor Pesta make their respective debuts opposite each other.
Pesta is a strong wrestler, preferring to take opponents down and manhandle them with his heavy top game. He is prolific with opening up opponents with elbows and cracking them with ground-and-pound. He also has solid submission, as seen in his choke-out of Danish prospect Christian Colombo.
He takes on Magomedov, who is known for being well-rounded. Magomedov's last two wins got him in the UFC, as he easily defeated Mike Hayes and Tim Sylvia to earn the nod. He will want to keep this fight upright, as he figures to be a better striker than Pesta.
Pesta is solid, but he has not fought someone of Magomedov's caliber. Magomedov will give Pesta his first blemish midway through the fight.
Prediction: Magomedov def. Pesta via TKO
Andy Ogle vs. Maximo Blanco
Next up are the featherweights, as British kickboxer Andy Ogle takes on Venezuelan wrestler Maximo Blanco. This fight is definitely a win-or-go-home scenario for both men.
Ogle, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter 15, has struggled to find his groove in the UFC thus far, punching a 1-3 record to this point. Despite a nice upset of Josh Grispi in his sophomore effort, he dropped decisions to Akira Corassani and Cole Miller before getting choked out by Charles Oliveira in his latest fight.
Blanco has had a rough stay in the UFC as well. Despite beating Sam Sicilia in an absolute firefight, Blanco dropped decisions to Marcus Brimage and Felipe Arantes. When he was closing in on a win versus Akira Corassani, the fight was stopped due to an illegal blow that rendered his foe unable to continue.
In looking at their skill sets, one would believe Blanco has more tools. His wrestling is powerful, and he can hold his own on the feet. Ogle will have his moments, but the Venezuelan will ultinately overwhelm him with his takedowns and aggression.
Prediction: Blanco def. Ogle via decision
Peter Sobotta vs. Pawel Pawlak
Up next is a pair of European welterweights. Polish newcomer Pawel Pawlak is welcomed to the Octagon by returning UFC veteran and German grappler Peter Sobotta.
Sobotta's first stint with the UFC is one he'd like to forget, as the German went 0-3 against the likes of Paul Taylor, James Wilks and Amir Sadollah. Since his release from the UFC, the submission specialist has gone 5-0-1, with all wins coming via rear-naked choke. Three of those wins came in a one-night tournament, with all three fights lasting less than five minutes combined.
Pawlak, also a ground fighter, is currently undefeated at 10-0. Most of his finishes come via vicious ground-and-pound, where he mixes elbows and punches in devastating fashion. That being said, he does have two impressive wins via inverted triangle choke, which account for his only two non-striking stoppages.
This should be a very interesting fight, especially on the ground. Both men do their best work from top position, which could force this to be a standup bout or a technical ground battle. When it's all said and done, I like Pawlak as a prospect, and he should pull off the win here in his debut.
Prediction: Pawlak def. Sobotta via decision
Iuri Alcantara vs. Vaughan Lee
Next up, we move to the bantamweight division, as Brazilian contender Iuri Alcantara takes on British dark horse Vaughan Lee.
Alcantara was a longtime featherweight before deciding bantamweight was his new home. Other than a loss to top 135er Urijah Faber, Alcantara has dominated Pedro Nobre (though it was ruled a questionable no-contest), clobbered Iliarde Santos and pushed through Wilson Reis. His power and explosiveness are still with him at this weight class, making him a dangerous contender.
Lee has exceeded the odds of how long he'd be in the UFC due to his ability to score upsets and create excitement. He has shuffled between wins in losses with the company, scoring victories over Kid Yamamoto, Motonobu Tezuka and Nam Phan while falling to Chris Cariaso, TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao.
People are quick to jump on Alcantara here, but do that with caution. Lee is extremely underrated and has defied odds to this point. That being said, Alcantara represents the top level of the 135-pound division and should continue to impress here.
Prediction: Alcantara def. Lee via TKO
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Next up, we have the middleweights, as Swedish fighter Magnus Cedenblad takes on Polish grinder Krzysztof Jotko.
Cedenblad is a finisher who has put away all of his opponents except for one. In his last fight, he clobbered Jared Hamman with a punch before locking him in a guillotine choke to score the upset. Most of his losses come via submission, though he has been tough there as well.
Jotko is undefeated to this point and entered the Octagon with a win over Brazilian grinder Bruno Santos. Jotko has shown good takedown defense to this point as well as a solid top game. He will likely be looking to put Cedenblad on his back in this bout.
This clash of styles is definitely interesting. Cedenblad is the bigger, longer fighter who will want to keep off the ground with Jotko. That said, the Pole closes the distance well and should be able to notch a victory here.
Prediction: Jotko def. Cedenblad via decision
Nick Hein vs. Drew Dober
The main attraction of the undercard will be contested in the lightweight division, as German newcomer Nick Hein looks to score a victory in his debut against the gritty Drew Dober.
Hein is a top-game grappler who likes to put guys on their backs and punish them from there. He has good submissions, though he prefers to soften up guys with punches. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the bright lights, especially in front of his home crowd.
Dober is a tough cookie, as seen when he was thoroughly beaten down by Sean Spencer in his Octagon debut and refused to quit. Dober has a chin of iron and some well-rounded skills, though he likes to use wrestling and top pressure.
The man who possesses the better takedowns and setups will be victorious here. Dober is that man, and he will silence the crowd when he beats Hein.
Prediction: Dober def. Hein via decision