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Hamburg Fight by Fight Preview

MAURICIO RUA VS ANTHONY SMITH
A lot of times a fight will fall apart and the replacement bout is maybe as good as the original, or maybe not. In the case of the UFC Hamburg main event, I’ve got a feeling Rua vs Smith will be better than Rua vs Oezdemir. Simply put, Smith is going to be chasing Rua from start to finish, and he won’t have to look too far because Shogun is Shogun. And while Rua may be looking at a shot at regaining his 205-pound title with a win this Sunday, Smith is not going to be a willing pawn in the game. “Lionheart” showed no mercy against another former world champion in Rashad Evans last time out, and expect that same attitude against Rua.

GLOVER TEIXEIRA VS COREY ANDERSON
Another quality replacement fight is in the co-main event slot, as Corey Anderson steps in for Ilir Latifi to face perennial light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira. Teixeira is one of those guys I feel will always be dangerous, even if he was 75 and using a walker to get to the Octagon. He’s just a hard-nosed, old school guy with bricks in his gloves. But after a stellar effort in his last bout against Pat Cummins, Anderson has the confidence and the still evolving game to give anyone trouble. Very interesting matchup here, and if Anderson gets it to the mat, he can pull off the upset.

VITOR MIRANDA VS ABU AZAITAR
German newcomer Abu Azaitar gets a nice main card slot for his UFC debut, and his aggressive style should get the fans in Hamburg roaring and also put his opponent, Vitor Miranda, in a tough position from the start. “Lex Luthor” has been out of action for over a year, so if ring rust is an issue, Azaitar will find out immediately. If not, Miranda has the ability and chin to weather the storm and take Azaitar into deep waters.

MARCIN TYBURA VS STEFAN STRUVE
An important heavyweight bout pits Marcin Tybura and Stefan Struve. Both European big men have been on the verge of entering the title picture, but key losses have put them on the outside looking in. And considering that they’re a combined 0-4 in their most recent bouts, a win on Sunday is a must if they want to get back in the mix. Luckily for them, in the heavyweight division, one win can do that trick, so expect to see both charging hard for the victory.

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DANNY ROBERTS VS DAVID ZAWADA
Danny Roberts put the blood and guts stuff aside in his last bout against Oliver Enkamp and the result was a clean and neat first-round knockout win. He’s got the talent to do that again this weekend, but can he stick to the game plan against late replacement David Zawada, who has ended 11 of his 16 pro wins by knockout? If not, it could be the Fight of the Night in Hamburg.

NASRAT HAQPARAST VS MARC DIAKIESE
Speaking of Fight of the Night candidates, Nasrat Haqparast and Marc Diakiese are former training partners with fight-ending power, and if the fists start flying, the winner may simply come down to who has the better chin.

NICK HEIN VS DAMIR HADZOVIC
Nick Hein gets a home game against Damir Hadzovic, and while Hadzovic is vastly underrated, past history has shown that putting him on the mat is a key to victory, and Hein’s strong suit is his grappling. So if Hein makes it ugly, it will likely be an ugly night for Hadzovic.

EMIL MEEK VS BARTOSZ FABINSKI
Emil Meek at the UFC Performance Institute (Photo by Juan Cardenas/Zuffa LLC)Popular Norwegian battler Emil Meek returns against Poland’s Bartosz Fabinski, and it’s a similar bout to Hein-Hadzovic in that the fight will likely be decided by where it takes place. And while Fabinski is no Kamaru Usman, he does have the kind of wrestling that can dictate pace and place.

NAD NARIMANI VS KHALID TAHA
It’s been over a year since Nad Narimani beat highly touted Paddy Pimblett to win the Cage Warriors featherweight belt, so ring rust could be a concern when he takes on Germany’s own Khalid Taha, an Octagon newcomer who has finished 10 of his 12 pro wins, eight by knockout.

JUSTIN LEDET VS ALEKSANDAR RAKIC
Making the drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight, Justin Ledet was a top prospect among the big boys, but he could be a contender at 205 pounds even sooner. Aleksandar Rakic is a tough assignment for Ledet’s first go in his new weight class, but that’s good news for the fans, as this could potentially be a barnburner.

DAVEY GRANT VS MANNY BERMUDEZ
Manny Bermudez came to the UFC with a lot of hype and he lived up to it in submitting Albert Morales, but he didn’t just walk over the Californian. That adversity will serve to make Bermudez stronger, but it should also give Davey Grant confidence that the kid from New England isn’t invincible. The key may be Grant’s aggression, because it could be his downfall against a slick ground wizard like Bermudez.

JEREMY KIMBALL VS DARKO STOSIC
In his three-fight UFC stint, Jeremy Kimball has been one of those “feast or famine” kind of guys. He’s either gonna get you or you’re gonna get him, and either way, it’s not going three rounds. That’s great for the fans, but not great for Kimball unless he finds consistency, and he’ll have the chance to get back on track against Serbian newcomer Darko Stosic, a protégé of Mirko Cro Cop who brings an eight-fight winning streak into the Octagon this weekend.

DAMIAN STASIAK VS LIU PINGYUAN
Damian Stasiak is always a fun fighter to watch, and while he’s had his ups and downs, you’ve got to make him a heavy favorite over Chinese newcomer Liu Pingyuan, who will not just be giving up a huge UFC experience advantage, but who will be coming off a long trip from China to Germany for his debut. Then again, after an 0-4 start to his career, Liu is 11-1, so the kid can fight.

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