Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will once again venture away from the familiarity of its APEX facility and ship its cast and crew across the pond for the upcoming UFC London fight card, locked and loaded for tomorrow afternoon (Sat., July 22, 2023) from inside O2 Arena in London, England, featuring a heavyweight headliner between local hero Tom Aspinall and Polish powerhouse Marcin Tybura. Like most weekly “Fight Night” cards, you’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to stream this weekend’s live event (sign up here).
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the flyweight showdown between Molly McCann and Julija Stoliarenko, check out Patrick Stumberg’s preliminary card breakdowns here and here. In addition, fighter-turned-writer Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC London main card right here.
Let’s talk shop.
265 lbs.: Tom Aspinall vs. Marcin Tybura
Record: 12-3 | Age: 30 | Betting line: -520
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC, 1 DQ
Height: 6’5“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 7.41 | Striking accuracy: 65%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.87 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 4.00 (100% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: No. 5 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Curtis Blaydes
Marcin “Tybur” Tybura
Record: 24-7 | Age: 37 | Betting line: +380
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 6 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.55 | Striking accuracy: 48%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.31 | Striking Defense: 55%
Takedown Average: 1.39 (33% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 79%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Blagoy Ivanov
Tom Aspinall is back after a year on the sidelines, rehabbing a devastating knee injury that ended his Curtis Blaydes fight just 15 seconds into their five-round affair. It was a huge disappointment to lose Aspinall at such a critical time in the heavyweight division — with all the Francis Ngannou drama — but it also kept us from understanding where the hulking Brit fits into the 265-pound title picture. His performance against longtime contender Alexander Volkov was outstanding, I just think we still have some unanswered questions heading into UFC London; namely, how Aspinall will deal with a wrestler the caliber of Blaydes. What we do know for certain is that Aspinall is a true heavyweight and not another bloated 205-pounder with heavy hands and a shitty diet masquerading as a heavyweight. Aspinall stands 6’5” with an imposing physique and has power. To complement his striking is a sneaky submission game that not only tapped Volkov, but also subbed Andrei Arlovski, who is skilled in combat Sambo and no slouch on the ground. It would be a difficult task to go back and review Aspinall’s UFC fights to find some sort of weakness. He lands a ridiculous 7.1 significant strikes per minute with an even more ridiculous 65% striking accuracy. He’s also landed every takedown he’s ever attempted and stuffed every takedown that’s ever come his way. I know a lot of up-and-coming prospects get overhyped but Aspinall has the numbers to back it up.
Bringing him back against Marcin Tybura feels a little bit like a layup, an attempt to reintroduce Aspinall to the current title picture and send the London fans home happy. That’s not meant to disrespect the Polish challenger because he’s won seven of his last eight and has faced some of the best heavyweights in the world. On the flip side, five of his last seven wins have all come by decision and his two finishes were against Greg Hardy and Walt Harris ... not exactly cream of the crop — though both were good enough for post-fight performance bonuses worth $50,000 each. Most of Tybura’s success comes from his wrestling, having outwrestled nine opponents across his seven-year UFC career with only Alexander Romanov and Luis Henrique getting the better of him in that department. Interestingly enough, he won both of those fights anyway. Tybura’s success against Aspinall will undoubtedly come down to how well he can use said wrestling to neutralize the striking. There’s no way to say it nicely: Aspinall is a superior striker who throws more volume, lands more punches, and gets hit far less than Tybura, by a significantly wide margin. And there is no way the Pole’s coaches will be comfortable having “Tybur” — who was knocked out by Shamil Abdurakhimov — stay in the pocket to exchange leather.
The big question for me is how well Aspinall’s takedown defense will hold up after knee surgery. I have other reservations about his power and agility, I just don’t want to start waving the white flag over a 30 year-old athlete who is getting world-class recovery at the promotion’s Performance Institute. I think we go into this fight expecting the same Aspinall that was going into the Blaydes fight, and that’s bad news for Tybura. Looks for a few failed takedowns followed by a British blitzkrieg. A first-round finish would not surprise me.
Prediction: Aspinall def. Tybrua by technical knockout
125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Julija Stoliarenko
“Meatball” Molly McCann
Record: 13-5 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -225
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’4“ | Reach: 62” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.72 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.90 | Striking Defense: 63%
Takedown Average: 1.67 (35% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 44%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission loss to Erin Blanchfield
Record: 10-7-2 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +190
Wins: 0 KO/TKO, 9 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.75 | Striking accuracy: 41%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.61 | Striking Defense: 44%
Takedown Average: 0.70 (25% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 62%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Chelsea Chandler
Molly McCann is already 10 fights into her UFC career across a span of five years and started off with little-to-no fanfare, thanks to a mediocre 3-3 record with five of those contests going the distance. Then “Meatball” went on an absolute tear, winning three straight fights with three straight performance bonuses. But it was her consecutive knockout wins over Luana Carolina and Hannah Goldy — which both took place in front of an arena of screaming hometown fans — that sent McCann into the stratosphere. With her popularity at an all-time high, and rubbing elbows with fellow Cage Warriors exports Paddy Pimblett and Conor McGregor, there was talk of a potential title shot. Unfortunately the party came to an abrupt end at the hands of once-beaten flyweight contender Erin Blanchfield, who is currently ranked No. 3 at 125 pounds. That loss, coupled with her defeat to Taila Santos (who is tied with Blanchfield at No. 3) demonstrated that McCann is not yet ready to hang with the Top 5 of the division, or maybe even the Top 10. Regardless, the Liverpool native is a high-volume striker who outwrestles most (but not all) of her opponents and much like Aspinall, received a favorable booking for her return to O2 in London.
I’m actually a bit surprised that Julija Stoliarenko is still around. She was first introduced to UFC fans by way of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 back in summer 2018, losing to Pannie Kianzad in the semifinals. Stoliarenko would return for the show’s live finale and dropped a split decision to Leah Letson, sending her back to the International circuit. Five straight wins with four finishes was enough to earn a UFC callback and once again, Stoliarenko would falter in the big spot. Heading into this fight, the 30 year-old Lithuanian is 1-5 under the UFC banner and coming off a technical knockout loss to Chelsea Chandler at UFC Vegas 61. I don’t think there is any argument that matchmakers have lobbed one to McCann, expecting her to spike it. That doesn’t mean the Stoliarenko fight is without risk. The threat of submission remains and McCann will have disadvantages in both height (3”) and reach (4”) against the former featherweight. In addition, Stoliarenko only needed one takedown to get Jessica-Rose Clark to the floor and submit her at UFC 276. None of this will come as breaking news to McCann, who I expect to run through Stoliarenko with a balance of volume and aggression. She’s also going to have the roar of the crowd behind her and based on what we’ve seen from “Meatball” when she’s dialed in, it will probably take more than a 1-5 UFC fighter to stop her.
Prediction: McCann def. Stoliarenko by technical knockout
Remember, the rest of the UFC London main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
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+ preliminary card bouts at 12 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time 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 here. For the updated and finalized “Aspinall vs. Tybura” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.