Oktagon 41 Preview; Mågård vs Lopez; Vémola Returns

Oktagon bring their highly entertaining production to Liberec, Czechia for the first time in their history. The Czech/Slovakian promotion are making a push towards the biggest shows in Europe and Oktagon 41 is shaping up to be a cracker. The Home Credit Arena will host eleven MMA bouts on Saturday night, including one title fight.

The OKMMA Bantamweight Championship will be unified in the main event. Jonas Mågård (14-5) is the reigning, defending title holder and is looking to bounce back from an eye injury that forced him out of the original fight. The Dane defeated Filip Macek for the belt back in November via decision. The Manchester Top Team man is a very solid wrestler with some very good chokes, most notably the Japanese Necktie and guillotine. He is a former FEN champion in Poland, which shows the pedigree of the man at the European level. Gustavo Lopez (13-6-1) won the interim strap against Macek via guillotine choke in December. The American is a former Combate Global champion and also has a wrestling style with massive ground and pound. The 33-year-old is a UFC veteran and was somewhat unlucky to receive marching papers, with his only losses in the promotion to Merab Dvalishvili and Adrian Yanez. This is a big fight for the scene.

Karlos Vémola (33-6) is the poster boy of Oktagon MMA. The Czech has held both the middleweight and light heavyweight straps. The man has been training in the best gyms in Europe over the last few years honing his skills. The UFC veteran is a good wrestler and submission player and routinely takes the back and sinks in the rear naked choke over and over again. The Terminator will engage on the feet and has only been stopped once by strikes. He plans to stay busy in 2023 with two fights already signed and rumours of a third to follow. Al Matavao (10-5) is a Contender Series veteran who’s gone 2-1 in Oktagon to date. The Alaskan has won his last two via TKO and loves to get into it on the feet. The American has only been submitted once and his defensive weakness is usually from heavy kickboxing. Vémola is looking to knock the rust off before his fight with Patrik Kincl in May.

Daniel Škvor (5-2) is looking to bounce back following a TKO loss to Jorick Montagnac in December. The Muay Thai stylist is a wrecking ball on the feet and his knees cause opponents fits. Never a dull moment with the Czech. Dan Vinni (22-17-1) trains out of the UAE and is coming in from a bare knuckle boxing win. The Brit is an MMA veteran and is decent everywhere and always fancies a finish. He’s not afraid to take a chance while trying to knock someone out.

Adam Pałasz (8-1) is the rising star of the heavyweight division. The hard hitting Pole routinely sends his opponents to the land of wind and ghosts with reckless abandon. All his wins have been finishes and seven have been via knockout. If Jan Błachowicz hadn’t trademarked the term “Legendary Polish Power”, we could use it to describe the Wrocław destroyer. Lazar Todev (7-5) last competed in MMA in Brave CF, whilst also competing in kickboxing. The Bulgarian will try to trade on the feet, and likely try to use his heavy leg kicks to slow his opponent down. Neither man has any desire to go the distance here.

Jan Malach (14-3) is a fan favourite and usually comes in with a boxing style. The Czech has finished eight of his bouts via knockout. He trains out of a very good gym, Reinders MMA. His biggest weakness is in the submission game. Ebrahim Hosseinpour (7-6) is also a striker and has a more prolific finishing percentage with six knockouts. The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble.

Jorick Montagnac (4-1) is a promising French light heavyweight. The Frenchman has won his three Oktagon bouts so far, including a lovely TKO win over Daniel Škvor. The 29-year-old looks the part and has so far acted the part. Mateusz Strzelczyk (13-13-1) steps in to replace Jan Gottvald at short notice. The Pole can generally cause you issues everywhere, however he’s been finished more times than he’s finished his opponents. It might be a tough night for the Truskolasy man.

As I often say, records are for DJs. I’ll write his record, however I want you to discard it. A “Baba Jaga” fight is an event. Pure entertainment. Václav Mikulášek (8-10) is here to show you a good time. The Czech will put it all on the line for your benefit. He has a boxing style and has seven knockout wins. Baba Jaga has been a streaky fighter between wins and losses, and he’s currently on a hot streak so expect to see the best of him. Matyas Viszlay (2-0) is the newcomer looking to build a name off the legend. The Slovakian comes in following a decision win at KSW 79 in the same arena. He’s shown decent grappling and striking to date. Can he handle the nightmare?

Robin Fošum (2-1) is a homegrown Oktagon prospect. The Slovakian has won his last two via TKO in the first round. This light heavyweight is one to keep an eye on. Nermin Hajdarpašić (4-1) is a step up in opposition. The Swede is a Fight Club Rush product and he came up short in his Oktagon debut against Alexander Poppeck. The Västerås Fight Club man won’t fear mixing it on the feet and has two knockout victories on his record.

Ondřej Raška (9-7) comes in on a two-fight win streak and is an Oktagon regular. The Czech finds most of his openings in the grappling exchanges and has four submission wins. On the defensive side, submissions have also been his Achilles heel. Jamie Cordero (2-1) lost his last fight by disqualification after he threw an illegal soccer kick, how can you stay mad at him after that? The German has been more striking orientated so far in his fledgling career. It will be interesting how he handles such an experienced opponent.

Peter Gabal (4-2) is a Reinders MMA prospect. The Czech has represented his nation at multiple IMMAF championships and has an extensive and distinguished amateur record. The 24-year-old is new school and is adept in each area of MMA. Two of his wins have been submissions, with a third coming via TKO. Hafeni Nafuka (3-0) is a promising young talent. The 19-year-old German has won all his bouts by finish and can get it done standing or on the deck. This is his biggest test to date and it’ll be interesting how he deals with being on a big show.

Oktagon always put on a little taster fight on YouTube before the PPV/streaming card. Melvin Mane (0-1) is a Muay Thai specialist who’s jumping back into MMA for the first time since 2020, a fight he lost to Robin Fošum by first round TKO. Szymon Broncel (1-1) returns to MMA after dipping his toes into the dedicated striking disciplines of late. The Pole is a heavy hitting boxer that likes to get things done early. Don’t blink during this one.

Oktagon 41 is live from Liberec on Saturday night from 17:00 on Oktagon.tv and DAZN.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.

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