Last night (Sat., March 19, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured to O2 Arena in London, England, for UFC London. As one would expect, the first event on English soil in about three years brought a ton of local talent to the forefront. In particular, up-and-coming European talent, athletes like Paddy Pimblett or even Jack Shore on the “Prelims” portion of the card, was highlighted, and overall, they fought hard to deliver their home fans an incredible show.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Tom Aspinall is a man who wins quickly. The majority of his finishes come in the first round, and that trend has continued from the regional scene into UFC. Last night, he achieved another major milestone when he managed to successfully — easily? — bull rush a long-time top-ranked Heavyweight and treat him like all the other men Aspinall has trucked.
Right away, Aspinall put hands on Volkov’s chin and landed his double-leg without issue. From top position, he quickly bloodied Volkov with elbows. The Russian worked back up to his feet, unlike many past Aspinall opponents. That’s a big moment, one that would discourage lesser prospects.
Instead, Aspinall slipped a punch and beautifully landed another double. He attacked the kimura a second time, promptly switching to a straight armbar as Volkov tried to defense. He popped Volkov’s arm, absolutely forcing the submission finish.
Another foe, another first-round finish. At 28 years of age, Aspinall looks ready to fight for the belt right now. That said, a title eliminator would make a lot of sense for the English prospect.
The Definition Of Insanity
I wrote a whole post about Dan Hooker’s struggles at UFC London, so check that out HERE.
Look, I’m far from sold on Paddy Pimblett. I don’t think he’s a future contender, nor would I predict him to break into the Top 10 anytime soon. Frankly, I think Ilia Topuria cleans his clock if that match up is booked.
Nevertheless, what is remarkably clear is that Pimblett believes in himself. “The Baddy” talks a big talk, and he’s doing his damnedest to live up to it. Twice now, Pimblett has seen himself stung and in a bad spot, but his self-belief does not waver. He wastes little time in getting back to his own offense, and it really seems to catch his opponents off-guard.
Self-belief alone does not make a champion, but it is absolutely a require part of the recipe.
Rise Of The Meatball
I didn’t expect Molly McMann to have a star-making performance versus Luana Carolina, but her place on future London cards is secure for at least a half-decade.
McMann stormed out of the gate to take an arguable 10-8 first round. She didn’t hold back in the least, unleashing a whirlwind of punches at pretty much every distance imaginable. Hell, there was an onslaught of foot stomps at one point! Naturally, that much energy expenditure comes at a cost, but McMann was still able to take the second in a more competitive frame.
McMann seemed on her way to a decision win until a spinning elbow OUT OF NOWHERE completely separated Carolina from her senses. It’s one of the most violent knockouts in women’s MMA history, and the crowd absolutely exploded. McMann made the most of her moment, running out of the cage and leading a sing-a-long in her post-fight interview.
That’s how you make your mark on an incredible card!
An Incredible Comeback
Jai Herbert spent a majority of the first round knocking Ilia Topuria around the cage.
Herbert landed so many brutal shots. A perfectly flush head kick, step knees to the jaw, several crisp 1-2s straight to the jawline — it was tremendous work and a great display of striking. The Brit used his length wonderfully, cracking the former Featherweight repeatedly and really bullying him.
Credit to Topuria, he swung back, wrestled enough to survive, and even landed a takedown. At the start of the second, Topuria seemed to have recovered from the heavy shots of the first, and he started unleashing big swings. After backing Herbert to the fence, Topuria released a gorgeous combination that was punctuated by a perfect left hook to the body-overhand to the jawline.
Herbert hit the canvas fully unconscious. It remains to be seen if Topuria can rise through the ranks at 155 pounds, but this is one hell of a Lightweight introduction.
Just Paul Craig Things
Paul Craig is a fighter who takes risks. By willingly putting himself in bad position in pursuit of the submission, he’s often in a situation where Craig either gets hammered into oblivion or pulls off a slick submission.
Last night, he did both.
Nikita Krylov was downright beating Craig’s butt. After sweeping his way into top position, Krylov dropped nasty ground strikes, heavy right hands and elbows. Craig was stunned and looked to be in a bad way. Nevertheless, he hung tough and was able to recover guard. As Krylov slowed a bit, Craig kept working, putting a foot in the hip and knocking Krylov off-balance.
As the Ukrainian athlete recovered his balance, Craig threw up a triangle choke, finishing his signature move in his signature style (a comeback following a beatdown).
The Scotsman is a Top 10 Light Heavyweight riding a major win streak. He can probably win or lose versus just about anyone, so that’s a whole lot of fun for fight fans.
Flyweight’s Newest Prospect
Undefeated (22-0) as an amateur and now perfect (6-0) as a professional, Muhammad Mokaev is exactly the type of fighter Flyweight needs right now.
“The Punisher” ran through Cody Durden, which is no small task. A jump knee stunned the wrestler, and when he drove into a desperation takedown, Mokaev promptly capitalized with a nasty guillotine choke. When Durden tried to spin to safety, the Englishman by way of Dagestan held tight and forced the finish.
At 21 years of age, Mokaev is a top-notch prospect who could find himself in the title mix sooner than later.
- Makwan Amirkhani defeats Mike Grundy via first-round anaconda choke: Here’s a classic MMA situation: Amirkhani entered as a new father looking to avoid release from the UFC roster, whereas Grundy was trying to score a win live in front of his dying father — brutal. Grundy made the costly choice to wrestle while Amirkhani was fresh, and the Finnish fighter was quite happy to jump on a guillotine choke. His transitions from that point were gorgeous, as he adjusted to the anaconda before hooking the arm to really sink in the choke. Grundy went to sleep quickly, but at least someone gets a cheery ending?
- Sergei Pavlovich defeats Shamil Abdurakhimov via first-round knockout: Pavlovich has flown under the radar a bit as a prospect, likely thanks to his debut loss and some recent inactivity. Fortunately, he’s rebounded in a big way, securing his third-straight knockout win last night. Pavlovich was the bigger and faster man, able to find the timing on his counter right hand early. After backing Abdurakhimov off, a sneaky lead right hand thrown from a bit of funky angle landed clean on the jaw, and that was it! The Russian fighter should be ranked next week.
For complete UFC London: “Volkov vs. Aspinall” results and play-by-play, click HERE!