Well, UFC Fight Night 69 from Berlin is in the books and when we look back on this event we will ... let's not pretend we'll be looking back. While the event had eight finishes in 11 booked fights, you have to know that when a guy like Nick Hein is kicking off your main card the talent pool a little shallow.
As in, this pool is so shallow it could not sustain microbial life forms.
Oh, don't get me wrong. It's not entirely UFC's fault that the European development leagues are to mixed martial arts (MMA) as Canada is to professional soccer. And the world's premier MMA company did actually try and land some bigger fish when the event was first conceived.
If you'll remember, the headliner was expected to be a Light Heavyweight tilt between former title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira. However, "Gus" pulled out of the bout on May 1 from an injury, leaving Teixeira without a dancing partner. The Brazilian was removed from the card entirely and was rescheduled to face Ovince Saint Preux on Aug. 8, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 73. And as for Gus, well this might sound awkward now but his injury earned him a title shot. (This is the part where you laugh).
Nevertheless, fans did get to see a champion perform Saturday, and she turned in an event-saving performance. Despite the myriad of unranked, unpronounceable names appearing on the card, one unpronounceable name got the lion's share of the attention, as Joanna Jedrzejczyk put the sort of beating on her opponent which caused hardened men to grimace.
Without further ado, let's assess her performance, and all the other fighter performances on the UFC Fight Night 69 report card:
While most of the fights on this card were filled with fighters who may not have a spot on the roster if not for a European Union passport, such was not the case with the main event. Polish strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk demonstrated the kind of skills that would make her marketable anywhere the UFC happens to be. And this is coming from a guy who, for all politically incorrect intents and purposes, finds most women's MMA fights to be slightly more interesting than badminton.
Watching Jedrzejczyk work her game on the feet qualifies as highly enjoyable, not just for the Just Bleed fans, but for those who understand the sweet science of her military arsenal. It's difficult for me to say this without sounding as ridiculous as the broken record that is UFC commentator Mike Goldberg, but she is the 115-pound version of former UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Chuck Liddell. And before your eyes perform a triple back flip, hear me out for a second.
She uses the same excellent takedown defense to keep the fight where she's strongest. She stalks her prey in a similar way, measuring distance with strikes. She has intuitive timing that keeps her away from counter strikes and knows when to back off and when to pour on the pressure. And let's face it, she's also just a fucking animal when she gets going. It's hard not to be a Joanna Jedrzejczyk fan when she puts together such a completely devstating performance.
As for Jessica Penne, she's probably feeling very much like the first few victims of UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. I have no doubt she believed she could win, but confidence and competence clearly have a few astronomical units to bridge when facing a striker of Jedrzejcyk's caliber. I'm guessing quite a few women will have to learn that the hard way before we see a true contender for her belt. Until that happens, enjoy the ride, Joanna.
Am I being too hard on these guys? Hm, I want to say yes but I can't shake this gnawing feeling that even their parents would delete the tape on this one. This was two fighters well past their best-before dates trying to squeeze one more pay cheque in before the nursing home. And the worst part is that neither fighter likely realizes it yet. Much like Kimbo vs. Shamrock, this was painful to watch, only not in a slightly amusing holy shit is this even real sort of way.
Yeah, unfortunately that was all very real. The horrible striking, the grunting and pawing against the cage, the dump and hump, the tedious 15-minute wait. There was no action to speak of, no highlights to find, no redemption to seek in any single move. Dennis Siver threw a few high kicks, a few stupid spinning back kicks, while Kawajiri basically chased the takedown all night long. Neither fighter showed anything that might remotely concern anybody in any division in any promotion on the planet.
It's sometimes difficult to evaluate the past performance of fighters with records filled of wins against unknown combatants. The same can be said in Peter Sobotta's destruction of Australian Steve Kennedy, who stepped up on 11 days notice after Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard Sergio Moraes called in sick. But while we don't know what caliber of opponent Kennedy is, the performance of Sobotta cannot be denied.
With his sixth first round submission in his last seven fights, Sobotta might just be ready to return to North America for the first time since 2010, when he dropped a unanimous decision fight to James Wilks. Still only 28, the Polish-German fighter has shown improvement in every aspect of his game since his return to the UFC, with patient and accurate striking, and smothering wrestling with a real knack for getting the finish.
If there's one thing that disturbed me as a fan, it was in hearing his wish to fight BJJ master Demian Maia next. It's nice to have a goal in life, but career suicide isn't it.
This isn't a joke and I'm not trolling. I would have handed Sajewski the win. No, the Polish fighter and his walk forward zombie style didn't impress me one iota (indeed, he was a massive disappointment for a man who owns a blemish on Marcin Held's resume). But I cannot, will not, and will never hand a victory to a man who fights like Nick Hein. It's never going to happen. Ever.
Nick Hein is the sort of fighter who might do well in competition point fighting where the object is to leap in and score points and leap out again. But watching it happen in MMA is, well, it's fucking eye-gouging torture. Hein circled and backed away and circled and backed away the entire fight. And if Sajewski had nothing else going for him whatsoever, at least he engaged in the fight. As they say, it takes two to tango and I was left wondering what Hein would have done had the Polish fighter not walked forward.
I mean, look, this is MMA, not Aikido. All the German did was wait for Sajewski to present counter strike opportunities while bouncing around like a hyper hypo. If he'd taken even an ounce of that energy toward risking a finish he might not be getting this gigantic "F" for his efforts. And to add insult to injury, Hein takes the microphone after the fight and screams to the fans looking for some kind of validation for his putrid efforts. A guy like this isn't even worth his value as the token ethnic fighter when the UFC is toddling about Europe. Cut him, cut Sajewski, and let's find some people who actually want to fight next time.
Quick hits from the undercard:
A: Makwan Amirkhani. With two first round finishes in his first two fights in the UFC, Amirkhani looks very sharp both on the feet and on the ground. If there are any holes in his game they haven't yet been exposed.
A: Scott Askham. You can't really redeem yourself from a loss any better than a first round stoppage. Askham showed great takedown defense and heavy kicks and hands in victory.
A: Mairbek Taisumov. Proving his 30-25 loss to Michel Prazeres might just be an aberration, Taisumov continues to finish guys quickly and efficiently in the UFC. While his opponents have been relative unknowns, his talents on the feet are undeniable.
A-: Taylor Lapilus. A somewhat surprising result for a fighter who was rather putrid in his UFC debut against Rocky Lee, the 135-pound version of Lapilus looks formidable and dangerous.
B+: Magomed Mustafaev. As though the UFC needed any more dangerous Russian fighters. Mustafaev showed some weakness to the takedown but his savage striking earned him a doctor stoppage.
B: Noad Lahat and Niklas Backstrom. The real fight of the night. Let's face it, the main event was a squash. Although Lahat did tremendous damage in the second round, the only way the Israeli wins the fight is by winning the third round. And he didn't do that. Terrible judging. Great fight.
B-: Arnold Allen. After losing most of the fight, British fighter Arnold Allen showed why the standing guillotine is the newest favorite choke by UFC fighters today. It can change the complexion of a fight in an instant.
C+: Alan Omer. Despite getting caught, Omer fought well for most of three rounds. He deserves another chance on a future card.
C-: Piotr Hallmann. His gameplan was to take the fight down but certainly not to get cut open in several places on the face. While not a genuine stoppage, Hallmann was taking tons of abuse and I doubt he would have survived a full 15 with the Russian.
D: Antônio dos Santos Jr. Sloppy gets as sloppy does. Dos Santos tried to close the distance and work the fight to the mat but he was too slow and Askham capitalized with brutality.
D: Alan Patrick. Ditto. Patrick's pathetic diving attempts at Taisumov's legs were suicidal to a formidable striker and it was a terrible takedown attempt that led to the finishing combination.
F: Masio Fullen. It's not that he performed terribly, but his efforts were unremarkable and unmemorable except in how quickly he was finished.
F: Ulka Sasaki. What. A. Disappointment. Japanese MMA continues to churn out exciting prospects, only to see them get smacked down in the UFC. Is there a curse worse than the JMMA record in the UFC? I can't imagine Sasaki gets another shot after his second consecutive beatdown unless he takes the logical drop down to 125.
That's a wrap. It's obviously difficult to have as much fun analyzing fighters who are either new to the promotion or don't have much experience, but with some more experience who knows? We may come to know and love several of these UFC Berlin combatants (except you, Nick Hein, except you).
We'll see you next weekend for UFC Fight Night 70 in Hollywood, Fla., when Lyoto Machida takes on Yoel Romero. Be sure to catch all the updates, play-by-play and recaps here on MMAmania.com.