Rico Verhoeven vs. Errol Zimmerman
Zane Simon: They’ve fought twice before, and stand at 1-1. Zimmerman got a quick KO the first time, while Verhoeven took a decision the second time. Zimmerman may be the slightly better puncher, but it seems like Verhoeven has really been developing his technical game and taking better advantage of his physical tools. I have to go with Verhoeven by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I made pretty detailed picks in my fight preview posts, but here’s the summary version. When this fight was first announced, I thought the answer was pretty obvious – Verhoeven by decision. But Rico’s loss (and BAD loss at that) to an unranked opponent in China, combined with Zimmerman’s serious focus when he last fought, makes me question that pick. I’m sticking with it, but with far less confidence. Verhoeven by decision
Staff picking Verhoeven: Stephie, Zane, Fraser, Karim
Staff picking Zimmerman:
Joe Schilling vs. Robert Thomas
Zane Simon: Hard not to go with Schilling here. Thomas looks like a decently technical, athletic fighter, but he doesn’t have the same speed or pop that Schilling puts on his strikes. And, it seems like his range/volume style will fit right in to what Schilling likes to do, forcing a lot of open exchanges. Those are exchanges I think Schilling wins. Joe Schilling via KO.
Fraser Coffeen: Like Zane said, hard not to pick Schilling. Both are Muay Thai guys, but Schilling has much more experience, and there’s nothing Thomas is going to being in here that will surprise him. Agreed that Schilling can win in those exchanges, and I’m also concerned about the way Thomas starts slow. Add it up, and you have a good stylistic match-up for Stich Em Up. Joe Schilling by KO
Staff picking Schilling: Stephie, Zane, Fraser, Karim
Staff picking Thomas:
Semifinal: Nieky Holzken vs. Alexander Stetcurenko
Zane Simon: I’m not saying that losing to Paul Daley in a kickboxing match is bad, per se, but it’s not good. Not when you’re about to go out and compete against one of the better kickboxers in the world. Stetcurenko seems aggressive and reasonably technical, but I just don’t see him holding enough of an advantage anywhere to keep Holzken from hurting him. Nieky Holzken by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I feel like people are being unfairly harsh on Stetcurenko, who is a very good journeyman fighter who holds a win over Artem Levin. He’s a tough, heavy hitter who absolutely deserves to be in here. Trouble is, he’s fighting Nieky Holzken, who is faster, hits just as hard, and has a more varied attack. Unless ring rust is a major issue, this is Holzken’s fight to lose. Nieky Holzken by decision
Staff picking Holzken: Stephie, Fraser, Karim, Zane
Staff picking Stetcurenko:
Semifinal: Raymond Daniels vs. Jonatan Oliveira
Zane Simon: Not to be down on anyone, but I sort of see this fight as a B-grade version of Holzken vs. Stetcurenko. Where you’ve got the more athletic, more dangerous range fighter against an aggressive, attacking in fighter. In both cases, I’m picking the rangier, more dynamic striker to win. Raymond Daniels by KO.
Fraser Coffeen: This is the closest fight so far. Daniels has more explosiveness, more pop, more to offer. But Oliveira is the more basic, technical fighter, and sometimes a solid grasp of fundamentals can take you far – especially against a flashy, unorthodox fighter like Daniels (see Wilnis vs. Barrett from Glory 18 for a great example of this). Valtellini abused the legs of Daniels when they fought. Daniels swears he’s made big adjustments and is ready for the leg kick attack. I think that’s true, and for his sake, I hope it is. If not, Oliveira is the perfect fighter to play spoiler in this tournament. Raymond Daniels by decision
Staff picking Daniels: Stephie, Fraser, Karim, Zane
Staff picking Oliveira:
Zane Simon: Assuming Holzken and Daniels go to the finals, there are two ways to look at the matchup. On the one hand, I think Holzken has the more difficult matchup and may be more worn out once he gets to the finals. On the other hand, technically I think he’s a better, harder hitting, and more technical athlete than Daniels. Daniels, with his less orthodox style, could pull out something amazing and shock Holzken (it’s not like he hasn’t done it to others) but that’s a hard point to bank on in fight picking. If I’m looking at this 1-1, I’m going Holzken, but it will be interesting to see if other variables (like exhaustion or injury) play a factor. Nikey Holzken by KO.
Fraser Coffeen: I have this as Holzken vs Daniels, which should be a good fight, but there’s a significant gap between these two – one that should allow Holzken to get the win. Zane identified the X factor though – Stetcurenko’s style means that Holzken will likely take some heavy shots in that fight, and I expect he’ll be hurting for this one. Hurting enough that he will be upset? I don’t see it. Nieky Holzken by KO
Staff picking Holzken: Fraser Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Stetcurenko:
Staff picking Daniels:
Staff picking Oliveira:
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