Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back this weekend to stage another stacked card live on ESPN+ from O2 Arena in London, England. Seeing as the Octagon was nearly set ablaze last time the promotion traveled to the United Kingdom, fight fans should only expect absolute chaos when the action begins this weekend.
The main event of the evening will feature an ultra-important Heavyweight clash between perennial contender, Curtis Blaydes, and streaking English sensation, Tom Aspinall. In the co-headliner, Middleweight veteran Jack Hermansson will look to stop the growing hype train that is Chris Curtis, who is competing yet again on short notice and looking for his fourth UFC win since Nov. 2021.
As for the rest of the UFC London main card we’ve compiled the four scheduled match ups below and how they look to be shaping up. From the return of Alexander Gustafsson to Paddy Pimblett’s third Octagon appearance, there is a lot to digest.
Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt
Best Win for Pimblett? Julian Erosa For Leavitt? Matt Sayles
Current Streak: Pimblett is riding a four-fight win streak (2-0 UFC) with Leavitt winning his last two Octagon outings
X-Factor: Will the moment get to Pimblett or can he harness the U.K. energy?
How these two match up: It’s a strange pairing matchmaking wise, but stylistically it should deliver.
The hype behind Pimblett is certainly real and very warranted, but he’s going to have his hands full against Leavitt this weekend in front of an electric London crowd. That’s not to say “The Baddy” can’t make this a quick night and secure his third-straight UFC finish, but it’s going to take a little extra effort than his previous two Octagon outings.
That’s because Leavitt is a dangerous grappler who always seems to avoid serious damage when he’s fighting. He hasn’t competed against someone like Pimblett, but Leavitt has faced some veteran competition so far in his UFC career and understands the positions he needs to put himself in to win a fight. That’s a dangerous attribute to someone like Pimblett, who often channels his emotions and goes for a finish every chance he can.
I don’t see Leavitt winning this fight and I do believe “The Baddy” can get another finish on home soil, but it’s not going to happen in round one.
Prediction: Pimblett via second round technical knockout
Light Heavyweight: Nikita Krylov vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Best Win for Krylov? Johnny Walker For Gustafsson? Glover Teixeira
Current Streak: Krylov has lost his last two fights while Gustafsson is 0-3 since 2017
X-Factor: Will the long layoff affect “Mauler” in his return to 205 pounds?
How these two match up: This is one of the more intriguing fights on the card and likely the last chance for Gustafsson to revive his career.
It’s crazy to think that Gustafsson is more than five years removed from his last UFC win as he makes his return to Light Heavyweight this weekend for the first time since 2019. Despite such a long layoff from the division and a two-year hiatus from overall competition, the promotion is still giving “The Mauler” a tough out in his return. It will be a great test to see what Gustafsson has left in his storied UFC career.
Standing in his way is veteran 205-pound contender, Nikita Krylov, who has fought some of the very best in the division over the past five years, but never seems to get the respect he deserves. What’s working for Krylov in this fight is his ability to grapple and not get knocked out. In fact, Krylov has only been finished by strikes once in his professional career and that came at Heavyweight in his UFC debut back in 2013.
That said, I do believe Gustafsson will be able to channel his former self and turn in a performance worthy of a win. I just don’t believe he’s going to take out Krylov like he could have done in his prime.
Prediction: Gustafsson via split decision
Women’s Flyweight: Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy
Best Win for McCann? Luana Carolina For Goldy? Gillian Robertson
Current Streak: McCann is riding a two-fight won streak as Goldy snapped a two-fight losing skid her last time out
X-Factor: Will McCann be punch drunk and leave herself open?
How these two match up: Another win for McCann could launch her into the flyweight top 15.
McCann turned in one of the best knockout finishes of the year her last time out when she slept Luana Carolina with a spinning back elbow from hell (watch HERE). The knockout finish went viral and helped make UFC London this past March one of the wildest events of 2022.
While McCann is the favorite to win this fight against Goldy I don’t believe she’s going to find another stoppage. In fact, “Meatball” may fall in love with her last performance so much that she leaves herself open to some takedowns in this one. Luckily, Goldy isn’t an elite grappler who will make her pay every step of the way. McCann is good enough on the ground to get back to her feet and let her hands do the talking.
Prediction: McCann via unanimous decision
Light Heavyweight: Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Best Win for Craig? Magomed Ankalaev For Oezdemir? Aleksandar Rakic
Current Streak: Craig is coming into this fight winning his last four while Oezdemir has dropped his last two UFC fights
X-Factor: Can Craig survive another offensive onslaught from his opponent?
How these two match up: It’s a battle of two top 10 light heavyweights clawing their way towards title contention.
At some point, Craig’s incredible knack for nearly getting knocked out and then finishing his exhausted opponent is going to fail him. Will it happen this weekend at UFC London?
Yes, yes it will.
I don’t think that Craig should have been matched up against Volkan Oezdemir in the first place because “Bearjew” is 5-0-1 in his last six Octagon outings and “No Time” is coming off back-to-back losses. But, considering Oezdemir is somehow still ranked No. 9 in the Light Heavyweight division, Craig had to take this fight.
Unfortunately for the Scottish fighter, Oezdemir hits harder than most of the guys Craig has recently faced (except maybe Jamahal Hill). Oezdemir does sometimes fall into a lull and takes a little while to get going, but I have a feeling he comes out guns blazing this time around and puts an end to Craig’s entertaining rise up the 205-pound ranks.
Prediction: Oezdemir via first round knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC London fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC London: “Aspinall vs. Blaydes” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.