To the delight of most fans, UFC Hamburg is taking place on Sunday morning. While there is a strong chance you’ll need to wake yourself up earlier than usual in order to catch the Fight Pass prelims, it isn’t at a crazy hour that North American fans will need to rouse themselves up in order to catch the action. That alone has some excited for this card. Admittedly, there isn’t a contest on the Fight Pass portion of the card that would be considered must-see viewing. Despite that, there are a pair of prospects in Manny Bermudez and Darko Stosic who offer promise in the near future. As much as I value my sleep, I’ll be getting up to see what the youngsters can do.
The Fight Pass prelims begin at 10:30 AM ET/7:30 AM PT on Sunday.
Manny Bermudez (12-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-3), Bantamweight
No disrespect to Grant, but this contest strongly smells like a showcase match for the up-and-coming Bermudez. A slick submission expert, Bermudez submitted the respected Albert Morales with a standing guillotine choke, proving he can snag a choke from anywhere. The real treat is getting to see what he can do when the fight hits the ground. His striking is coming along with a jab being the only consistent part of his standup and his wrestling has plenty of holes in it too.
Injury and illness have been the primary story of Grant’s UFC career, with only three fights on his ledger despite nearly five years on the roster. An exceptionally large 135er, Grant may be one of the few who is more dangerous than Bermudez once he gets an opponent’s back, almost all his wins coming by way of RNC. He also showed improvement in his striking in his last contest, but he has also struggled to find his opponent’s back since making his way to the UFC.
Grant is a worthy test for Bermudez as he can make his American counterpart pay if he doesn’t take him seriously. However, Grant is too eager to go to the ground, even when he’s having success on the feet. He’s a bit overconfident there too as evidenced by both of his UFC losses coming by way of submission. Bermudez will catch him early. Bermudez via submission of RD1
Jeremy Kimball (15-7) vs. Darko Stosic (12-1), Light Heavyweight
Three fights into his UFC career and Kimball has yet to take a fight beyond the first round. If you were to guess he possesses a kill-or-be-killed attitude, you’d be right. A brawler who gets up in the grill of his opponent from the opening bell, Kimball is not only limited physically, he’s also a natural middleweight who has decided he’s done with the whole weight cutting thing. He did show some intelligence taking Dominick Reyes to the ground in his last appearance as no one knew what Reyes could do on the ground, but his wrestling and grappling has never been anything special.
Stosic has been plying his trade at heavyweight on the European scene only to drop to 205 upon signing with the UFC, likely explaining why his debut is coming about 7 months after his signing. It isn’t hard to see why the UFC wanted to see what he can do. Stosic is a protégé of Mirko Cro Cop and has some similarly wicked kicks. To be fair, Stosic usually doesn’t go for the head the way the former Pride star did, but he has been able to secure a stoppage based solely on the strength of his leg kicks. How many fighters in the heavier divisions can that be said about?
Kimball will probably make it difficult for Stosic to find the room to lay into his legs, but Stosic has typically been able to find a way to lay into his opponent’s base regardless of what tactic they utilize. Given the history of both, it shouldn’t take long for the fight to find its conclusion. Stosic via TKO of RD1
Damian Stasiak (10-5) vs. Pingyuan Liu (13-4), Bantamweight
Stasiak was supposed to be a name to fill out European cards when he first signed with the UFC. While he has filled that role – he has yet to fight on another continent – he has also proven to be better than anyone expected. What’s crazier, it’s been his grappling that has caught everyone by surprise. Not only did he secure both of his UFC wins via submission, he also hung tough with noted grappler Pedro Munhoz. Every now and then, he still pulls out his flashy kicks from his karateka background, but usually operates a basic kickboxing attack. What hurts Stasiak is his limited physical abilities.
Liu was supposed to make his UFC debut last November in China before an injury knocked him off the card. Now instead of a manageable opponent in Bharat Khandare, he faces a task far more daunting in Stasiak. Given Liu was a questionable signing in the first place – most analysts agree that he doesn’t appear to be UFC material – Stasiak appears to be an insurmountable obstacle for the young man from China.
Perhaps Pingyuan has made some leaps since he last fought 9 months ago. At 25, he’s certainly young enough for that to not only be a plausible scenario, but also likely. Still, I don’t think he would have covered enough ground to close the distance between himself and Stasiak. The nail in the coffin: Liu has struggled to stuff takedowns. Stasiak isn’t a takedown machine, but he should find a way to ground and submit Liu. Stasiak via submission of RD1