Oktagon 57 Preview; Eckerlin v Brož, Keita v Sardari

Oktagon returns to one of the most picturesque arenas in Europe, the Festhalle in Frankfurt. Saturday will see the Czech / Slovak promotion return to Germany and the packed arena will be treated to twelve fights under Oktagon MMA rules.

Christian Eckerlin (15-6) is one of Frankfurt’s favourite sons and could sell tickets just to see him train in the city. Born an hour from the venue, the 37-year-old is a fantastic grappler, using his slick Jiu Jitsu play to sink in  rear naked chokes by the bucket load. The German has a dangerous kickboxing game, and carries power early in the fight. Miroslav Brož (17-3-1) makes the trip westwards from the Czech Republic. The Prague man is an Oktagon mainstay and is entering his eleventh promotional appearance. The 35-year-old is a brute of a man who makes life miserable for anyone brave enough to take the cage with him. You’re usually in for fifteen hard minutes. The 35-year-old has beaten a German crowd favourite before in the shape of Christian “The Kelt” Jungworth. Undefeated in his last eight, he’s coming to lay hands early and often. Eckerlin’s best chance may be early on in the stand-up exchanges.

The co-main event features the final Tipsport Gamechanger first round bout. Losene Keita (12-1) is perhaps the most talented fighter on the roster, with his only loss coming through injury. The Guinean trains out of Belgium nowadays and he is the current OKMMA featherweight and former lightweight champion. Striking is where he’s made his name and the 26-year-old can put on quite a show. Exquisite footwork, big power and more combinations than a bank vault lock, entertainment is guaranteed. Eight wins are via knockout, and his résumé is littered with a who’s who of Oktagon’s top talent. Agy Sardari (17-4) comes in as an underdog, however he’s also a man known for having belts in his carry-on luggage. The Dutchman is a former Cage Warriors lightweight champion, earning a decision win over Donovan “Vegas” Desmae to capture the strap. The 30-year-old has a nice technical striking style, picking opponents off on the outside. The Tilburg man marries it with a lovely submission game, with his long legs causing trouble with triangle chokes. He’s got a chin and has never been knocked out. I can see this going to the distance, with Keita winning overall.

Pavol Langer (12-10) is a former OKMMA Interim Light Heavyweight champion. The big Slovak started his martial arts journey in karate, and he carries a huge knockout threat throughout. The Košice man also fancies himself on the mat, using his size to dominate and look for the back. Michelangelo would be making sculptures of Marc Doussis (9-3) if he were alive in 1500. The UFD Düsseldorf man is always in peak human condition and ready to compete. The German is a KSW veteran and carries a lot of power in his hands. He’s also got a mean guillotine to be aware of. He’ll be looking to let his hands go and get the knockout in the first couple of rounds.

Mate Sanikidze (11-2) relinquished his OKMMA Featherweight crown to drop down to bantamweight, and this is the first time he’ll put on those Pitbull shorts at this weight class. The Georgian has that typical Caucasus wrestling style that can have you on your back quicker than you can scoff down a khinkali. The 25-year-old is also an impressive striker, ready to get into your face from the opening bell. Farbod Nezhad (11-3-1) was born in Iran and now calls Berlin home. The 33-year-old is a PFL and Brave CF veteran. The Spitfire MMA man is a decision fighter who can grapple very well. Sanikidze will be looking to exploit gaps in his striking defence early on in this one.

Louis Glissman (11-3) is a Brave CF veteran and a man who’s racked up a heap of highlight reel finishes. The Dane is a stellar grappler with a wide range of submissions in his repertoire. The 33-year-old is a strong wrestler and can attack any exposed limb in the blink of an eye. Łukasz Siwiec (9-3) is a former Babilon welterweight champion. The Pole is no slouch in the grappling department either. Physically very strong, the 32-year-old is great at taking the back and sinking in chokes or grabbing an exposed arm. The Radom man puts every pointy bit of his body to use in the striking, slicing and dicing like a Michelin star chef. This will be a fascinating clash of styles, and should be a pick’em.

Matouś Kohout (9-7) is a very popular Oktagon regular, making the walk for the twelfth time. “The Mighty Rooster” is a Muay Thai stylist who’s game plan is simple, to entertain the masses. Once the referee says “fight”, the Czech starts utilising his kickboxing, working his levels and doing damage. He can take a smack back too. Islam Khapilaev (9-4) makes his promotional debut and is on a three-fight win streak. The 29-year-old is solid everywhere, utilising wrestling and submissions well, with a sting on his punches. He’ll have to come through a barrage and get some takedowns to have success here.

Max Holzer (7-0) is a fun and confident prospect out of Hannover. “Stifler” is a beautiful Jiu Jitsu player with more chokes than Arsenal football club. The 22-year-old’s striking game is ever improving and he has a “je ne sais quoi” about him. Likely his last prelim fight at European level. Eemil Kurhela (7-1) is an IMMAF veteran making the trip down from the North. The Finn likes to get down and dirty on the mat, working hard on his wrestling, landing big ground and pound and looking to connect submissions. The Cage MMA alumnus is making his first step up to the head table of European MMA. I expect Holzer to grab a submission victory.

Beno Adamia (10-8-2) comes in on a hot streak, winning his last four bouts. The Georgian uses his grappling to good effect and can dominate decisions. If an opportunity presents itself, his choke game is dangerous. Stipe Brčić (11-4) is a former Cage Warriors title challenger and is making his Oktagon debut. The Croatian came through the EMC scene in Germany’s industrial heartland. The 31-year-old is solid wherever the fight takes place, utilising kickboxing to control the distance and fiercely contesting grappling exchanges. He can be a little open in the pocket, which has led to his downfall in the past. I’d expect his high level experience to get him through to a decision.

Mallory Martin (8-6) is a UFC, Invicta and LFA veteran. Travelling all the way from Colorado, the American picked up her first Oktagon win against Czech legend Magdeléna Šormová last time out. Wrestling is the name of her game, and she’ll be looking to get it down quick and start landing blows. Anita Bekus (7-4) is a new signing and a very powerful competitor. A former champion fitness competitor, the Bydgoszcz native has transitioned well to mixed martial arts. The Octopus Łódź talent likes to take opponents down and use her superior strength to dominate her foe. Her striking is also coming along. This is another pick’em, with me edging towards Bekus.

Tayo Odunjo (6-3) is a PFL veteran and returns to the Oktagon cage. The GB Top Team man is a very powerful and explosive striker, maintaining that threat throughout the fifteen minutes. The British fighter has the cardio and volume to go the distance. Endrit Brajshori (3-1) is a young all rounder who scored a beautiful guillotine choke win in his last matchup. The Rosenheim man is also a handful on the feet, carrying troubling power. This should be action packed, with someone losing consciousness. 

A pair of “Projekt Y” bantamweight semi-finals will kick things off in Frankfurt. This is a beginner to professional series that took place on YouTube. Haifa Reso will take on Erika Tomm, and Sandra Peterhoff faces off against Laura Kirtzel. These German women will be keen to show what they’ve picked up on their journey.

Oktagon 57 is live from Frankfurt on Saturday night from 17:00 Irish time on Channel 4, 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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