The UFC is in Anaheim, California this week for UFC 241 and we have lined up the men and women of New Zealand’s famed Fale Dojo to share their thoughts on the main card.
Joining Kenai Andrews this week are the men and women of New Zealand’s Fale Dojo. Founded in 2016 by professional wrestler Bad Luck Fale, the dojo offers training in professional wrestling, grappling, kickboxing, boxing and other combat sports. Many of the students are currently training for careers in professional wrestling.
Located in Auckland, the Fale Dojo believe in what they call the “New Zealand strong style” – a foundation of martial arts training on top of a structured wrestling regimen. Many graduates wrestle in Japan’s New Japan Pro Wrestling (NPJW), a professional wrestling organization that aggressively markets MMA into their wrestling style.
“As a professional wrestler, I feel that all wrestlers should either undertake MMA or some sort of contact sport as it would give them some legitimacy,” general manager Mark Tui explained to The Crossfire. “At Fale Dojo, we have students with previous experience who come from all over the world from places like the United States, Japan, and India. We’ve also had a student from the military special-forces in Israel. We teach our students to be legitimate fighters before they can move into pro wrestling.”
“As a wrestler it’s important to watch combat sports like MMA to learn,” added coach Michael Richards. “Most holds in professional wrestling has come from MMA. I believe it’s important for wrestlers all around the world to have some form of martial arts background, whether it is boxing, kickboxing or MMA. It brings legitimacy back to pro wrestling and that’s the one thing that’s missing in wrestling today.
“The only company in the world that’s legitimate is New Japan Pro Wrestling,” Richards continued. “Everyone on their roster has a background combat fighting and you can see that in the way they move and the way they strike in the ring.
‘That’s why it’s important for us at Fale Dojo to teach boxing and kickboxing to our students. It’s to differentiate ourselves from every other pro wrestling company around the world.”
Let’s take a look at the matchups.
UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS (6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT)
SABINA MAZO (6-1-0) VS. SHANA DOBSON (3-2-0)
Andrews: Two up-and-comers trying to find their way in the big leagues. I have to go with Mazo’s experience to overcome the power of Dobson.
Andrews Prediction: Sabina Mazo via UD
KYUNG HO KANG (15-8-0, 1NC) VS. BRANDON DAVIS (10-6-0)
Andrews: Kang has been in the UFC since 2013 (!) and while he has been less then perfect in that time, he will get the tap here against Davis.
Andrews Prediction: Kyung Ho Kang via submission
HANNAH CIFERS (9-3-0) VS. JODIE ESQUIBEL (6-5-0)
Andrews: Don’t be fooled by Cifer’s awkwardness at the weigh-ins. Her striking should stifle Esquibel as it did in Jodie’s last three losses. But if Jodie can get the fight to the ground, then everything changes. Cifers won’t let her though.
Andrews Prediction: Hannah Cifers via UD
DRAKKAR KLOSE (10-1-1) VS. CHRISTOS GIAGOS (17-7-0)
Andrews: A good fight on paper. Klose’s striking should give him the edge he needs to grind out the win.
Andrews Prediction: Drakkar Klose via UD
UFC ON ESPN+ PRELIMS (8PM ET/5PM PT)
MANNY BERMUDEZ (14-0-0) VS. CASEY KENNEY (12-1-1)
Andrews: Kenney has a win over Ray Borg but can he keep the fight on the feet long enough to avoid the ground game of Bermudez? I don’t think he can.
Andrews Prediction: Manny Bermudez via submission
CORY SANDHAGEN (11-1-0) VS. RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO (27-6-0)
Andrews: Sandhagen scored a close win over John Lineker but can he topple a guy who has been good for over eight years in the UFC? Assuncao is 37, but still competes at a high level even though he lost to Moraes in February. Have to go with the vet in Assuncao.
Andrews Prediction: Raphael Assuncao via UD
KHAMA WORTHY (14-6-0) VS. DEVEONTE SMITH (10-1-0)
Andrews: This should be a good dustup. Both guys can end the fight in a hurry but I am impressed with Smith, who has a 100 per cent finish rate. After some trouble, he will emerge standing.
Andrews Prediction: Devonte Smith via TKO
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
#8 DEREK BRUNSON (19-7-0) VS. #10 IAN HEINISCH (13-1-0)
Andrews: Brunson is back on track which is good because he has a chess match in Heinisch. Derek will need his wrestling to take some starch out of Ian, who will try to goad Brunson into flying off the handle. But, Brunson resists and prevails.
Andrews Prediction: Derek Brunson via UD
GABRIEL BENITEZ (21-6-0) VS. SODIQ YUSUFF (9-1-0)
Andrews: Benitez is a beast. If Yusuff comes prepared, he can do it. Anything else and Benitez will eat him up.
Andrews Prediction: Yusuff Sodiq via UD
#2 YOEL ROMERO (13-3-0) VS. #7 PAULO COSTA (12-0-0)
Andrews: If anyone can flatten Romero, it should be Costa. But few have been able to do it. For that reason, even though he’s now 42, I have to go with Romero.
Andrews Prediction: Yoel Romero via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Siu’ea Langi II: I don’t know his opponent, but I believe Romero will win by KO.
Siu’ea Langi II prediction: Yoel Romero via KO
#9 ANTHONY PETTIS (22-8-0) VS. NATE DIAZ (19-11-0)
Andrews: Diaz should be rusty and Pettis should be sharp enough to take some advantage. I expect “Showtime” to produce one more vintage performance.
Andrews Prediction: Anthony Pettis via UD
Fale Dojo Young Lion Siu’ea Langi II: I’m going for Nate Diaz, because I’ve been a fan of his since his arrival in TUF 5 and he’s also the younger brother of Nick Diaz, another killer. Anthony Pettis is a great fighter, but I see Diaz winning by unanimous decision.
Siu’ea Langi II prediction: Nate Diaz via UD
DANIEL CORMIER (22-1-0, 1NC) VS. #11 STIPE MIOCIC (18-3-0)
Andrews: Miocic will be stronger and more prepared, but Cormier will be ready to finish the fight again. DC is just the best heavyweight in the world who has a knack for taking down bigger opponents.
Andrews Prediction: Daniel Cormier via TKO
Fale Dojo General Manager Mark Tui: I have to give it to Miocic by TKO. I think Miocic has a point to prove considering the last time he faced Cormier, he lost. So I think Miocic will come in stronger and expose Cormier’s weak points and hopefully will use his strength of his reach to his advantage.
Mark Tui Prediction: Stipe Miocic via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Yuto Nakinishi: Cormier’s strategy is to predict the top, keep from the take-down while scolding the hit of Miocic, while Miocic uses the advantage of height and reach to control it by out-boxing (Cormier.) If Miocic wins, he’ll win by first round TKO with the straight right hand counter. If Cormier wins, he’ll do get a third round TKO using the overhand right along with takedowns so he can ground and pound. I think MMA and professional wrestling are the same. But professional wrestling is a stricter rule. I think professional wrestling is the strongest.
Yuto Nakinishi Prediction: Daniel Cormier via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Siu’ea Langi II: I’ve been a fan of the UFC since seventh grade and the first fighter I saw was Chuck Liddell. Coming from Hawaii, being a fighter is in the blood of the Polynesian people in all aspects of life. Never giving up in anything you do, so it was natural that I gravitated toward the sport. I’m going for Cormier with a TKO. Miocic is a tough fighter on the feet, but Cormier always embraces the grind an brings the fight to his opponents, never giving them any room to breathe whether it be in standup, clinch, or taking them to the ground where he’s most comfortable due to his wrestling background. I think Miocic will still hold his ground, but I believe Cormier will come out on top.
Siu’ea Langi II prediction: Daniel Cormier via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Oskar Münchow: I do not follow MMA a lot, but I do think that Cormier is going to win by TKO. I prefer Cormier’s style. I think he is going to dominate Miocic.
Oskar Münchow Prediction: Daniel Cormier via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Jake Taylor: I’ve never been a huge fan of MMA but I have always made time for the big fights. Last decade, UFC seemed to have more ‘superstar’ level fighters. I was probably more interested then. Conor McGregor feels like the last superstar fighter I was invested in. Now, I mainly just watch MMA to see the Aussie boys.
I have to go with the wrestling fan Daniel Cormier. With his dad bod knock out strength, I’m going with a KO in the first round. Similar to their last fight he has to close the gap with Miocic’s reach advantage and pick his moment.
Jake Taylor Prediction: Daniel Cormier via TKO
Fale Dojo Young Lion Jordan Allan-Wright: It’s hard to pick who will win this fight between Cormier and Miocic. Cormier has already beaten Miocic so it could be a repeat of history, but then again this is a very motivated Miocic coming in for the rematch. I can’t pick who I think will win but I believe we will see a KO victory.
Editors Note: On behalf of Crossfire Nation, we’d like to thank all the members of Fale Dojo of New Zealand for sharing their thoughts on UFC 241. It’s always interesting to see what the professional wrestlers and students in training think of the fights and once again, we learn there is much in common to appreciate. Enjoy the fights, everyone!