Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will head back across the pond to stage a special “Fight Night”-themed event in London, England, headlined by a Heavyweight collision between top contenders Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall. In the co-main event, Jack Hermansson takes on Chris Curtis.
The Heavyweight division is at a bit of a standstill at the moment because division champion, Francis Ngannou, is on the mend after surgery and likely won’t be back until late 2022 or early 2023. Stipe Miocic has not been seen nor heard from in 15 months and Jon Jones has no concrete plans to face someone at 265 pounds at the moment. In the meantime, the rest of the division is trying to stay busy to not only earn paychecks, but to see who will move up the rankings. And one of the biggest fights on the docket is Blaydes vs. Aspinall.
Blaydes seems to always come up short when all the chips are in and is knocking on the door of a title shot. That was the case when he lost to Francis Ngannou, which snapped his five-fight win streak, and then to Derrick Lewis, which snapped his four-fight unbeaten streak. After bouncing back with two straight wins, “Razor” — ranked No. 4 — is eying a spot in the Top 3 with a huge win over Aspinall, who is holding strong at No. 6. Aspinall is on an eight-fight win streak and is perfect (5-0) inside the Octagon. All five victories have been stoppage wins, four in the first round. Better yet, all of his 12 victories have come by a form of stoppage, which means he is not a fan of judges. Aspinall is very well-rounded, but he will have a tough time trying to keep up with Blaydes’ wrestling, which is his bread and butter. While he has improved in his stand up game, Blaydes will still revert to wrestling when the occasion calls for it, and against Aspinall, he will need it. The winner of this fight can expect to move up the rankings and get closer to their first-ever shot at winning UFC gold.
There are no complaints here. The last two “Fight Night” events have been pretty well-rounded and UFC Long Island delivered last week. I fully expect this card to do the same because it has several intriguing match ups from top to bottom.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Ignacio Bahamondes bowed out of his fight against Ludovit Klein for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Mason Jones, who is 1-1-1- so far inside the Octagon. As for Klein, he recently snapped his two-fight losing streak by beating Devonte Smith at UFC 272.
The co-main event was originally set to be Darren Till vs. Jack Hermansson, but Till was forced out of the fight with an injury for the second straight time. Stepping in to face “The Joker” is Chris Curtis, who is fresh off a big win over Rodolfo Vieira a few weeks ago. It was Curtis’ seventh straight win, third inside the Octagon, and now he has a chance to score a huge win over a long-time contender. As for Hermansson, he is in search of a much-needed win because he is coming off a split decision loss to Sean Strickland. He has been all over the place in recent years, alternating wins and losses since 2019 to amass a 3-3 record in the span.
On the heels of four straight wins, Charles Johnson will finally get his first shot inside the Octagon when he faces off against Muhammad Mokaev. Johnson is the former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) Flyweight champion and is looking to make a huge statement right out of the gates. It won’t be an easy task, however, because Mokaev has yet to taste defeat, going 7-0, including winning his own UFC debut against Cody Durden.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
On the heels of two straight losses, Claudio Silva will attempt to get a much-needed win when he battles Nicolas Dalby, who is coming off a tough loss to Tim Means, his first defeat in more than four years. Also on the undercard, Mandy Bohm will look to get back in the win column after suffering the first loss of her career against Ariane Lipski. She will face off against Victoria Leonardo, loser of two in a row. Jai Herbert and Kyle Nelson will throw down in a Lightweight fight, with both men needing a win after suffering setbacks in their previous fights against Ilia Topuria and Billy Quarantillo, respectively.
Muhammad Mokaev will look to improve his undefeated record to 8-0 and go two-for-two inside the Octagon when he battles Charles Johnson (winner of four straight) in a Flyweight bout. Also, Makwan Amirkhani is in search of his first two-fight win streak in more than three years when he battles Jonathan Pearce — winner of three in a row — in a Featherweight collision.
Also at 145 pounds, Nathaniel Wood will take on Charles Rosa. Woods coming off a loss to Casey Kenny, while Rosa has lost two in a row. In the Lightweight division, Mark Diakiese will battle Damir Hadzovic in what is sure to be an all-out banger. Also in the 155-pound weight class, Ludovit Klein will face off against Mason Jones, who is coming off a big win over David Onama.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Alexander Gustafsson will make his long-awaited return to action when he faces off against Nikita Krylov in a Light Heavyweight fight. The former two-time title contender has not competed in more than one year after retiring briefly, but now he returns to attempt to rekindle some of the fire that made him one of the best 205-pound fighters on the planet at one point in time. As a Heavyweight inside the Octagon, Gustafsson is 0-1, losing to Fabricio Werdum via submission in July 2020, the last time he’s competed inside the eight-walled cage. All told, “The Mauler” has lost three straight and doesn’t have a win in more than five years, knocking out Glover Teixeira in 2017. A loss would likely make his return a short-lived one, but a win might assure fight fans that we get to see “The Mauler” in action again.
Interest Level: 7.5 of 10
As I stated earlier, this is a very strong card highlighted by a big-man match up that could have major title fight implications. Also, fan-favorite Paddy Pimblett will return to action in an attempt to further elevate his brand and resume when he takes on Jordan Leavitt. I won’t go as far as to say Pimblett has taken UFC by storm, but he is gaining a bigger fan base each time out and since he is fighting on his home turf, the crowd is bound to go bananas once he steps foot inside the cage.
Pimblett and Leavitt have gone at it over social media and during interviews over the last few weeks, so this fight has the potential to be an all-out banger. “The Baddy” has two first-round finishes to start off his UFC career and is eying a third to stay in the spotlight. As for Leavitt, he is out to spoil the party and score his own three-fight win streak by handling business against Paddy ... and then twerking all over him in victory.
Molly McCann will also be fighting on her home turf and is eying her first three-fight win streak in three years when she goes toe-to-toe with Hannah Goldy. McCann and Pimblett are two of the current most-popular fighters from England in UFC, so she is also looking for a repeat performance of a knockout win over Luana Carolina earlier this year. Goldy is out to build some momentum of her own by getting two straight wins.
In further action, Volkan Oezdemir will face off against Paul Craig in a pivotal fight at 205 pounds. Oezdemir has lost his last two fights and was last seen losing to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 267. The former title contender has looked like a shell of his former self as of late so a big win would be just what the doctor ordered. Craig, on the other hand, is on a four-fight win streak, so it’s odd matchmaking, to say the least. Still, a win for either man will be crucial for their careers moving forward.
UFC London Main Event On ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall
UFC London Main Card On ESPN+:
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Curtis
155 lbs.: Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt
205 lbs.: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Nikita Krylov
125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy
205 lbs.: Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir
UFC London ‘Prelims’ Under Card On ESPN+:
155 lbs.: Mason Jones vs. Ľudovit Klein
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Damir Hadzovic
145 lbs.: Nathanial Wood vs. Charles Rosa
145 lbs.: Makwan Amirkhani vs. Jonathan Pearce
125 lbs.: Charles Johnson vs. Muhammad Mokaev
155 lbs.: Jai Herbert vs. Kyle Nelson
125 lbs.: Mandy Bohm vs. Victoria Leonardo
170 lbs.: Claudio Silva vs. Nicolas Dalby
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
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.
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