After three disgruntled weeks in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) goes across the pond to London, England, for its second United Kingdom show of the year. In the main event, No. 5-ranked Heavyweight, Tom Aspinall, returns to take on surging Polish veteran, Marcin Tybura. While UFC London isn't the strongest card in terms of name value, there are fun fights up and down the card. So, before it goes down this weekend on ESPN+, let's check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime ...
Main Event Tommy
Aspinall competes in his third straight main event this weekend. His first headliner was against Alexander Volkov, becoming the first fighter since 2010 to submit the Russian veteran (watch highlights). Aspinall's second main event was against Curtis Blaydes, but it only lasted 35 seconds because he injured his knee, making him 1-1 in UFC main events.
No More Knee Talk!
Aspinall is done talking about the knee injury he suffered against Blaydes, in which he tore his MCL and meniscus, as well as suffered some ACL damage. During his UFC London media day, he said repeatedly that he doesn't want to think about his knee anymore and just wants to fight, "I can't wait to be never asked about my knee again."
ALMOST A Year To The Day
Mixed martial arts (MMA) timelines are so weird sometimes. Aspinall returns to action a day before the one-year anniversary of his knee injury (Sat., July 22, 2023). His last fight was on July 23, 2023 (watch highlights).
Earned, Not Hand-Picked
Poland's Tybura has waited six years for another UFC main event and has suffered several ups and downs since his showdown with Fabricio Werdum. After his first main event in Australia, he went on a nasty skid, winning only one out of five fights. With his back against the wall, Tybura retooled and went on a roll, winning seven out of eight fights.
Uhhhh ... "Meat Ball" Co-Main Event?
Can we all agree that Molly McCann vs. Julija Stoliarenko is not co-main event worthy? Both women are coming off losses where they were demolished in the first round. I can understand the thinking of putting McCann in that spot because she is a party favor who brings the energy, but come on ... really? There are at least four other fights that could take that spot.
Okay, I'm done b—tching.
Stoliarenko is dropping to Flyweight for her fight against McCann for the first time in her career. The fighter from Lithuania has fought as heavily as Featherweight. When she announced the move down to 125 pounds, eyebrows were raised because not too long ago, she fainted on the scale trying to make 135 (check it out).
And we’ve got good news: She made it!
Middleweight ‘Bear Jew’
Another fighter who is dropping down a weight class is Paul Craig. After 23 fights at Light Heavyweight, the 35-year-old Scottish fighter moves to Middleweight. During his media day interview, he said the move to 185 pounds is, “more suited to my style, as well as my frame.”
Paul is not getting a warm-up fight at UFC London, either, getting a chance to crack the Middleweight Top 15 by facing Andre Muniz.
Here's a picture of Paul Craig at his last 205 weigh-in and today's 186 weigh-in. It's got a different angle and lighting so is completely useless as a comparison, but it's here. pic.twitter.com/tyHo6ZMHVM— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) July 21, 2023
Banger Of The Week
Several options exist for this week's banger, including the “featured bout” between Nathaniel Wood and Andre Fili; however, Davey Grant vs. Daniel Marcos is the choice because it will be pure violence.
Grant holds an 85 percent finish rate and is coming off a “Submission of the Year” candidate over Raphael Assuncao (watch highlights). He is riding a two-fight win streak and has five Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.
Marcos turned heads in his UFC debut, finishing Saimon Oliveira in enemy territory at UFC 283. The 30-year-old fighter from Peru is undefeated (14-0) and brings it every time he fights. Plus, he is fighting Grant, who is close to a Top 15 ranking.
Welcome To UFC!
Four fighters are making their UFC debuts this weekend at UFC London.
- Jonny Parsons (8-3) fights Danny Roberts. Parsons has been out of action with injuries since securing a UFC contract on season five of Contender Series.
- Mick Parkin (6-0) takes on fellow Contender Series contract winner, Jamal Pogues. Parkin holds a 100 percent finish rate.
- Shauna Bannon (5-0) faces Bruna Brasil. Bannon is the second Irish female fighter to compete in UFC.
- Season five Contender Series contestant, Daniel Barez (16-5), fights Jafel Filho after winning four fights on the regional scene (all finishes).
Top-Ranked Bantamweights Buried
I usually complain about at least one fight placement on the fight card every week, and UFC London is no different. Ketlen Viera vs. Pannie Kianzad is buried on the "Prelims" for some reason, with them being ranked No. 4 and No. 7, respectively.
I understand that many women's Bantamweight bouts might be described as “boring,” but with the division being rebuilt at the moment, this fight should be highlighted.
‘Bam Bam’ Moving Up
Earlier, I mentioned two fighters moving down a division. Well, Bryan Barberena is moving from Welterweight to Middleweight. "Bam Bam" is on a two-fight losing streak, getting submitted in both bouts. He faces Makhmud Muradov, who has also dropped his last two.
Welcome back, ‘El Fenomeno’
Joel Alvarez returns to action for the first time since Feb. 2022 when Aram Tsarukyan battered him. The 30-year-old Spanish fighter holds a 100 percent finish rate with 16 submission wins. He is very fun to watch and is an absolute giant for Lightweight. Alvarez faces Marc Diakiese.
An American Fighter In London
Do you get it? Anyway, only three Americans are competing at UFC London: Fili, Barberena and Parsons.
Winners And Losers
Sixteen fighters are coming off wins, while 13 are coming off losses. And one fighter is coming off a draw (Jai Herbert).
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- Two Heavyweight fights
- Two Middleweight fights
- One Welterweight fight
- Three Lightweight fights
- Two Featherweight fight
- One Bantamweight fight
- One men's Flyweight fight
- One women's Bantamweight fight
- One women's Flyweight fight
- One women's Strawweight fight
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 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.