The UFC returned to Germany for the 3rd time in the promotion’s history, 1st time since 2010, and 1st time in the city of Berlin. The UFC Fight Night 41, 10-fight card featured the many European MMA stars on display, in addition to the main event that saw Gegard Mousasi outclass top ranked middleweight Mark Munoz. The three stars that emerged are as follows:
3rd Star – Niklas Backstrom
Niklas Backstrom came in undefeated at 7-0, but was faced with a tough task against Tom Niinimaki, who had won 12 straight fights. But the 24 year old proved more than capable of holding his own against the Finnish fighter. Backstrom landed a knee that rocked Niinimaki in the first round, and followed it up by using a school yard headlock to drag his opponent to the ground, without the use of hooks, submitted Niinimaki to improve to 8-0.
Backstrom was emotional after the fight, on the mic with Dan Hardy, had said he achieved his dream of making it into the UFC.
The Allstars Training Centre in Sweden continues to produce top quality talent, and Backstrom was just one example of it. His teammate Magnus Cedenblad, who deserves an honorable mention, was also victorious on the prelims of UFC Fight Night Berlin. Backstrom joins the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Nico Musoke, and Ilir Latifi in a growing stable of Swedish fighters in the UFC.
2nd Star – C.B. Dolloway
The fight started off a bit, how should we say Diaz-esque? With both C.B. Dolloway and opponent #9 ranked Francis Carmont throwing their arms in the air and taunting each other in the stand up before both throwing and landing significant strikes. Dolloway also knocked down Carmont in the first round with a left, but it was his wrestling that ultimately proved to be his advantage—being able to get on top and stay on top of Carmont in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Although Clarence Byron wasn’t his charismatic self on the mic post-fight—which drew some criticism from UFC president Dana White—he believes with this, his 4th victory in 5 fights, had pushed himself in to the top 10 rankings of the UFC middleweight division.
1st Star – Gegard Mousasi
Really a flawless performance from the former DREAM and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, outclassed “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz on the mat, and eventually submitting him with the rear naked choke in round 1. Mousasi proved that after losing his last fight to the current #1 contender Lyoto Machida, he still belongs in the top tier of the UFC middleweight division.
Post-fight Mousasi suggested a fight with fellow top 10 middleweights, Luke Rockhold or Tim Kennedy, for his next fight. Mousasi also revealed that he would like to fight on the UFC Fight Night card in Japan.