Preview And Predictions – UFC Berlin And Bellator 138

Kimbo Shamrock

After the high altitude adventures of Mexico City for UFC 188 last week, it’s straight back down to business this weekend with MMA’s two biggest promotions putting on events. For the UFC it’s a return to Berlin, Germany with the Strawweight title up for grabs while Bellator pit two of MMA’s most recognizable names together for a main event five years in the making.

After the original headliner for UFC Berlin between Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira was cancelled due to an injury to the Swede, it was left to only the second ever UFC strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, to fill the void at the top against American veteran Jessica Penne. As an unbeaten 9-0 fighter Jedrzejczyk has shot to top of the 115 lbs division after only making her professional debut in 2012. Wins over Karla Benitez and English stalwart Rosi Sexton in Europe prior to getting to the UFC, along with wins over Juliana Lima and Claudia Gadelha once she got to the Octagon earned Jedrzejczyk a shot at the UFC strap. As we know it was an opportunity she took with both hands in an absolute demolition of Carla Esparza which saw her take home the gold to Poland.

Jessica Penne may not have reached the same heights as Jedrzejczyk in the UFC yet but she has had a wonderful career nonetheless. After successful spells on the local scene and in Bellator it was Invicta FC where Penne found her first real success when she defeated Naho Sugiyama to win the atomweight title. And although she lost the title to Michelle Waterson, Penne was amongst the first batch of women signed by the UFC to compete on “The Ultimate Fighter” where she lost to eventual winner Carla Esparza in the semi final before beating Randa Markos on the season finale.

As a styles fight this one is potentially interesting. As a former Muay Thai world champion Jedrzejczyk is an absolute monster on the feet. She throws wicked jabs, fast combinations, sharp elbows and kicks which, if they connect, can alter the fight immediately. All those attributes, though, rely on a fantastic takedown defence which is improving with every outing. What we don’t know, and what Penne will be hoping to find out, is how she will cope if she does get put on her back.

Although not as outstanding as Jedrzejczyk as a technical striker, Penne is no mug on the feet. The American throws a long, stiff jab and follows it up with power shots and kicks high and low while remaining defensively strong at the same time. In the wrestling department Penne may not be the best defensively but she has good double leg takedowns and trips while on the floor is where she really shines with magnificent guard passes and slick submissions.

As so often is the case in MMA, this fight is predicated on whether the grappler can get the striker to the floor. There is no doubting Penne is a good striker but, unfortunately for her, she is coming up against the best striker in the division. If it stays on the feet, it won’t be a matter of if Jedrzejczyk will win, it will be a matter of when. There is hope for Penne however, but she will need to eat a few shots to get inside and put Joanna against the cage to get takedowns and make it a dog fight. If she does manage to get it to the floor, Penne will have a huge chance of getting a submission and the belt. For me, though, after watching her stop nearly every takedown attempt from the best wrestler in the division, Carla Esparza, I think the fight will go in Jedrzejczyk’s favour.

Before that happens, though, on Friday night the Bellator cage visits the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri for the meeting of no holds barred competitors turned mixed martial arts fighters, Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice. After making his name as a street fighter the world round on YouTube, Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) was given the opportunity to go into MMA with the now defunct EliteXC promotion. There, he had success early as he beat names like Tank Abbott and James Thompson – but it all come to a shuddering halt in his fourth fight. Initially, that fourth career outing for Slice was supposed to be against this weekend’s opponent Ken Shamrock but “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” was cut the morning of the fight and replaced by Seth Petruzelli who went on to famously knock out Kimbo in just fourteen seconds. After that fight EliteXC was no more and Kimbo was signed to fight in “The Ultimate Fighter” where he was beaten by Roy Nelson before retiring as a 1-1 fighter inside the Octagon. Now, following 5 years out of the cage (in which time he went 7-0 as a professional boxer) Kimbo returns to headline for the new Bellator regime.

For Shamrock, his career has been a lot longer with even more success and setbacks. After starting out his career in Pancrase, Shamrock starred in UFC 1 where he was submitted by Royce Gracie in the final. Over the three years from 1993-1996, thirty fights (23-5-3) made Shamrock one of the most well known fighters in the world as wins over Bas Rutten, Matt Hume and Dan Severn elevated him to legendary status and, eventually, into the UFC Hall of Fame. A spell in the world of professional wrestling followed that before Shamrock returned for fifteen more fights (5-10) over a ten year period which saw him lose, most notably, to Tito Ortiz three times. Like Slice, it has been five years since Shamrock has strapped on the gloves and, at the age of 51, it should be, erm, interesting to see how he looks.

When talking about the fight itself it’s really a bit difficult to know where either man is at their current vintage and with such a long period out of the cage. At 51 years of age Shamrock is obviously well past his prime but even in his best days, being well-rounded was never an apropos description of Ken. What he did have going for him was experience compared to his opponents, athleticism (at the beginning anyway) and submissions. For Kimbo, at 41 years of age, things don’t exactly look great either. He doesn’t really have much of a wrestling game, he isn’t good on the ground and he’s more of a wild brawler than anything else on the feet. What he does have, though, is some training for the last year with American Top Team and the boxing fights which have kept him in some sort of fighting shape over the last half of a decade. With that said, it’s your guess is as good as mine as to how this fight will look. If I was to predict the unpredictable, then Shamrock will probably fail with a takedown early and Kimbo will knock him out within a minute. Either way, it will be quite the spectacle.

Outside of the top two there isn’t too much to offer on either card although the featherweight title fight for Bellator and the return of Michael Chandler are worth a watch. For the UFC, the German fighters will be bringing it in their home country while huge English prospect Arnold Aleen makes his debut on just five days notice and fan favourite Makwan Amirkhani returns to the Octagon.


Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Jessica Penne – Joanna remains champion
Dennis Siver vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri – Siver outworks TK and wins
Peter Sobotta vs. Steve Kennedy – Sobatta wins the decision
Nick Hein vs. Łukasz Sajewski – Hein via KO

Makwan Amirkhani vs. Masio Fullen – Amirkhani via early KO
Mairbek Taisumov vs. Alan Patrick – Taisumov continues his climb
Alan Omer vs. Arnold Allen – I’m taking Allen on short notice
Niklas Bäckström vs. Noad Lahat – Should be a good fight, Lahat wins the decision
Scott Askham vs. Antônio dos Santos – Askham via KO
Piotr Hallmann vs. Magomed Mustafaev – Hallmann grind out the win
Taylor Lapilus vs. Ulka Sasaki – Sasaki gets the submission


Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock – Kimbo (finally) retires Ken
Patrício Freire vs. Daniel Weichel – Pitbull retains
Bobby Lashley vs. Dan Charles – Lashley via ground and pound
Daniel Straus vs. Henry Corrales – Straus wins it
Michael Chandler vs. Derek Campos – Chandler take the decision


This week isn’t a great week for betting but I’ll take a 5/2 treble of Jedrzejczyk, Kimbo and Taisumov.


Bellator main card – Friday night/Saturday morning at 2am

UFC prelims – Saturday at 5pm

UFC main card – Saturday at 8pm

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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