Last night (Sat., July 22, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured forth to The 02 Arena in London, England for UFC London. Though the card wasn’t quite as grandiose as recent visits to the UK, there were more interesting notes than average on this “Fight Night” event. For example, Tom Aspinall’s return to action after a devastating knee injury last year carried significant implications for the Heavyweight division, and Top 10-ranked Paul Craig looked to make a splash in a new division.
Let’s take a look at UFC London’s standout performances and techniques:
Aspinall Is BACK!
Tom Aspinall might have the fastest hands Heavyweight has ever seen. Better yet, he pairs it with good feet, legs that carry him forward without getting him off-balance. Now that his knee is healthy, the odds appear strong that Aspinall finds himself in a title fight sooner than later.
Tybura just couldn’t handle that speed. He tried to counter and fire back, but Aspinall was blasting him with power shots and gone before he could even really react. Aspinall’s first right hand land of the fight ended the evening early, and that’s the same fate that will befall any non-elite Heavyweight who tries their hand opposite Aspinall.
Aspinall called for the winner of Ciryl Gane vs. Sergei Spivac next — book it!
Julija Stoliarenko ran over Molly McCann last night. She looked big and strong for the division — not a surprise since she’s previously struggled to make Bantamweight, let alone 125 pounds! Despite the odds and her recent results, it didn’t feel surprising when she ran over McCann with a takedown and jumped onto her back.
From there, it was elementary. Stoliarenko is an armbar specialist, and she quickly ripped McCann’s arm off, cranking even as “Meatball” frantically tapped. That’s what happens when someone who only does one move finds their position!
The Real Co-Main Event
Nathaniel Wood vs. Andre Fili delivered clearly the best fight of the night. In the very first minute of the fight, Fili sat his opponent down with a stiff left hand. His jab was flowing, but Wood answered back quickly with a heavy right hand and follow-up combination that put Fili on his back and down a round.
“Touchy” stormed back in the second, stunning Woods and nearly finishing him with a flurry of knees. He tried to chase the rear naked choke, but Woods was able to survive both that grappling exchange and the round as a whole. Everything was up for grabs in the third, which saw Woods pit his low kick game against Fili’s lead hand offense.
After 15 competitive minutes, Woods’ hand was raised, and he’s now 3-0 at 145 lbs. The Englishman is very quick and very technical, which makes him an interesting player at Featherweight.
Middleweight Craig Is The Real Deal!
Paul Craig lost 20 lbs. to make the Middleweight limit for the first time, but otherwise, his game is exactly the same. The problem with that statement is that there are huge flaws in his style. The bright side is that his style still allowed him to beat men like Magomed Ankalaev, Jamahal Hill, and Nikita Krylov!
It really was the same Craig, just against a smaller opponent. He didn’t look fatigued or slower than usual. His stand up was as awkward as ever. However, he wrestled a bit more effectively, perhaps a result of some additional size and strength compared to his opponent. In addition, all the grappling seemed to really fatigue Andre Muniz, who was consistently sharper in the stand up and grappling exchanges ... until Craig got on top.
Craig remains a fighter who could submit Israel Adesanya or get smoked by Eryk Anders depending on the evening. He’s unlikely to ever be champion, but his fights are always unpredictable!
- Jonny Parsons defeats Danny Roberts via second-round knockout: Parsons debuted with a beautiful mullet and first-round victory — what could be better?!? Really, Parsons outlasted his opponent by forcing a brawl from the first bell. Throughout the chaos, he did great work in maintaining his stance and ability to fire back with compact, powerful shots. Roberts swung wide, but Parsons kept sticking him with jabs and eventually found a fight-ending blow as Roberts’ legs disappeared.
- Joel Alvarez defeats Marc Diakiese via second-round d’arce choke: I’m going to ignore the controversial head butt for a moment, since I wrote an entire piece about the overall officiating. Instead, let’s talk Alvarez, who fights the closest to a Lightweight Carlos Condit as I’ve seen! On the feet, he’s a long range striker with many weapons. He chewed up Diakiese with low kicks, check hooks, and powerful combinations. Diakiese looked to wrestle in the second, and Alvarez immediately fell over like a baby deer, maintaining his zero percent takedown defense percentage! Diakiese fatigued in the process, however, which allowed Alvarez to actually start defending takedowns and then attack the neck. Even before the headbutt, Alvarez was building towards a finish, so it’s overall an unfortunate turn of events.
- Jafel Filho defeats Daniel Barez via first-round arm triangle choke: Filho picked up the first win of his UFC career here, but he had to work for it! The Flyweight prospect took a bit of a beating early on, falling to the floor from a gnarly liver shot. Liver shot knockdowns usually produce finishes, but Filho gutted through it and was able to get his wrestling going. As soon as he gained top position, the tables were fully turned, and he locked in a submission soon afterward.
For complete UFC London: “Aspinall vs. Tybura” results and play-by-play, click HERE!