. UFC London Main Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET): 265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall – The main event comes in the Heavyweight division, as two contenders in […]
UFC London Main Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall – The main event comes in the Heavyweight division, as two contenders in Alexander “Drago” Volkov and Tom Aspinall clash in a pivotal fight. Checking in at 6th in the Heavyweight division, with eight wins in eleven fights inside the octagon, Volkov is truly one of the divisions best. Having won three of the last four, Volkov has to be closing in on his first title shot. Meanwhile, Aspinall has been on some tear. A winner of seven straight, four of which have come in the UFC, Aspinall has laid waste to anyone who’s stood in his path. With all eleven victories coming by stoppage, Aspinall isn’t one to need the judges to decide his fate.
As for a prediction, I have Aspinall winning. While it’s it’s hard to doubt Volkov, considering how good he is, Aspinall is just a wave of talent that has Championship potential. A heavy-handed boxer with good hand speed, Aspinall is dangerous on the feet. However, a BJJ black belt, Aspinall has a good ground game too. With heavy ground-and-pound and good submissions, Aspinall may be one of the last Heavyweight’s you want to see in top control. It won’t be easy though, as aside from Blaydes taking Volkov down fourteen times, the Russian has fended off 45 of 51 takedowns. Roughly 90%. A high output striker, who stays at a distance and uses his length to pick apart opponents, Volkov is among the division’s best on the feet. The only thing Volkov lacks is one-punch power, which Aspinall packs plenty of. In a fight that could really go either way, I’m banking on Aspinall to live up to the hype. So with that said, I have Aspinall winning via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Dan Hooker vs. Arnold Allen – The Co-Main event of the evening comes in the Featherweight division, as Arnold “Almighty” Allen takes on Dan “The Hangman” Hooker. Since debuting in 2015, Allen has astonishingly won all eight of his fights inside the octagon. Checking in at 7th in the Featherweight division, Allen is closing in on a number one contender’s fight. Meanwhile, Hooker is dropping back down to Featherweight. Having gone 1-3 in his last four fights, Hooker will look to rejuvenate his career back where he started it in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Hooker winning. While I expect this fight to be close, and I do think that Allen is underrated, this will be his stiffest test to date. Hooker is a well rounded fighter, who has exceptional kickboxing. Standing 4 inches taller, with a five inch reach advantage, Allen will need to get inside to get off his offense. Considering he likes to pressure and isn’t afraid to brawl, I don’t see that being a problem. However, Hooker does a good job keeping distance and using his length. Landing nearly five significant strikes a minute, Hooker brings forth top notch output. Something in which I believe will be a factor in swaying this fight towards him. That and his takedown defense, which is solid regardless of what Makhachev did to him. In the end, while I do believe this with be competitive, Hooker’s takedown defense, output and length will aid him to a hard fought decision victory.Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Paddy Pimblett vs. Rodrigo Vargas – We have a fun one in the Lightweight division, as Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett takes on Rodrigo “Kazula” Vargas. Coming off a sensational knockout victory in one of the best debuts to date, Pimblett returns to the octagon for an encore. A winner of three straight, Pimblett will look to keep the momentum going. Meanwhile, Vargas comes into this fight off his first UFC victory over Rong Zhu. A fight in which Vargas looked sharp, landing more than double the amount of strikes than Zhu. In a big spot over a big name, Vargas has an opportunity to boost his stock.
As for a prediction, I have Pimblett winning. While the odds are seemingly stacked against Vargas, it’s more or less because of the hype surrounding Pimblett. Not that the Brit doesn’t deserve it, but this isn’t a cakewalk of a fight. Vargas is a game opponent, who isn’t particularly strong in one area, but has skills everywhere. The one problem that will be exploited though, is Vargas’ lack of takedown defense. Already coming into the UFC with suspect takedown defense, Vargas has proven that it is in fact a weakness. In three fights, he has been taken down three times twice. Only successfully defending two takedown attempts, Vargas’ takedown defense sits at a horrific 25%. However, Vargas has some grappling skills and has only been submitted once in sixteen fights. I believe that changes though, as Pimblett will wear down Vargas and eventually submit him late in the fight.
170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson vs. Takashi Soto- We have an intriguing fight in the Welterweight division, as Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson takes on Takashi “Ten” Sato. Returning to the octagon for the first time since September of 2019, the once promising prospect Nelson will look to snap a two-fight skid. Having debuted in the UFC in 2012, Nelson hasn’t accomplished what many thought was possibly. However at only 33 years old, there is still time. Meanwhile, Sato steps into this fight on short notice. Having been absent from the octagon since November of 2020, Sato will look to erase his most recent defeat to Miguel Baeza and get back in the win column.
As for a prediction, I have Nelson winning. Despite falling off the face of the earth, Nelson brings forth a unique style that is highlighted by his impeccable grappling. While Sato is the better of the two on the feet, Nelson hasn’t been one to stand and strike with the majority of his opponents. In fact, and despite the layoff, Nelson is tied with Chris Lytle and Demian Maia for the most submissions in the Welterweight division at six. Completing 1.75 takedowns per minute at a 55% clip, I expect at some point, Nelson to get this fight to the mat and do what he does best. Submit people. So with that said, I predict Nelson will win this fight via submission.
265 lbs.: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Sergei Pavlovich – We have a showdown in the Heavyweight division, as Shamil “Abrek” Abdurakhimov takes on Sergei Pavlovich. Checking in at 10th in the Heavyweight rankings, Abdurakhimov would appear in good standings. However, at 40 years old and on a two-fight skid, Abdurakhimov’s tenure in the UFC may be on the line. Meanwhile, Pavlovich will return to the octagon for the first time since October of 2019. Having seen three fights cancelled due to injury, visa and travel issues, Pavlovich may be a little rusty out there.
As for a prediction, I have Pavlovich winning. Despite the lengthy layoff, Pavlovich is the more trusting fighter at this current stage. While there was a time where Abdurakhimov had looked promising, even at an older age, he has become slower and no longer has the ability to withstand punishment. Whether that’s father time or having faced better competition, both which seem true, predicting Abdurakhimov to win is on hold until further notice. Pavlovich at the very least, is a powerful striker, with a good track record and has a wrestling background. Although he never uses his wrestling, defensively it could come into play against Abdurakhimov. So with all that said, I believe Pavlovich systematically pieces Abdurakhimov up on the feet. Eventually winning via knockout.Embed from Getty Images
205 lbs.: Paul Craig vs. Nikita Krylov – We have a ranked fight in the Light Heavyweight division, as Nikita “The Miner” Krylov takes on Paul “Bearjew” Craig. Having traded wins and losses for the past six fights, Krylov will seek to find some consistency. Checking in at 9th in the Light Heavyweight division, Krylov still remains in good standings. However, a win-streak of some sorts will be needed to climb up the totem. Meanwhile, Craig is 4-0-1 in his last five. Having not lost since 2019, and with a recent submission victory over Jamahal Hill, Craig is becoming a major player at 205 pounds.
As for a prediction, I have Krylov winning. While this is one of the tougher fights to pick on the card, as it really could either way in a heartbeat, I like Krylov’s overall game better than Craig. Even despite Krylov’s lack of success, the strength of schedule has more to do with than anything else. Since coming back to the UFC in 2018, Krylov has fought Jan Blachowicz, Ovince St. Preux, Glover Teixeira, Johnny Walker and Magomed Ankalaev. If anyone’s counting, that’s the former Light Heavyweight Champion, a former Light Heavyweight title challenger, the Current Light Heavyweight Champion, the 12th ranked Light Heavyweight and the 4th ranked Light Heavyweight. With a well rounded game, Krylov has shown comfortability wherever the fight takes place. In this particular fight though, it would be wise for Krylov to avoid grappling and keep it standing. Otherwise, like I said before, this fight can flip in a heartbeat. Craig is a solid grappler with excellent submissions in his arsenal. Having won all fifteen of his victories via stoppage, twelve of which have come via submission, Craig is a dangerous opponent to face. Especially for Krylov, who has been submitted in five of his eight losses. However, I believe Krylov will keep this on the feet and eventually knock out Craig.
UFC London ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (1 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Jai Herbert vs. Ilia Topuria – We have a scrap in the Lightweight division, as Jai “The Black Country Banger” Herbert takes on Ilia “El Matador” Topuria. The third time was the charm for Herbert, as he halted a two-fight skid with an impressive knockout victory over Khama Worthy. Perhaps staving off a pink-slip from the UFC, Herbert is presented with a big opportunity against a top opponent. Meanwhile, Topuria has been simply amazing since stepping foot in the octagon. A perfect 11-0, with three wins in the UFC, Topuria has asserted his dominance on the Featherweight division. However, due to weight cut issues, Topuria is moving up to Lightweight.
As for a prediction, I have Topuria winning. Despite moving up in weight, this is a very favorable first fight in a new division. Not because Herbert isn’t worthy or good, but because the Brit lacks the necessary wrestling and grappling to fend off Topuria. Who thus far, has looked flawless in the wrestling and grappling department. Even on the feet, which isn’t Topuria’s strong suit, he not only does a good job at avoiding being hit, but slipping shots and landing with accuracy. While I can see Topuria entertaining striking, it won’t be for long. The way Moicano handled Herbert, is exactly how I see this fight playing out. So with that said, I predict that Topuria wins via submission.Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Jack Shore vs. Timur Valiev – We have a pivotal fight in the Bantamweight division, as Jack “Tank” Shore takes on Timur “Lucky” Valiev. A perfect 15-0, with four of the wins coming in the UFC, Shore will seek to continue his trek up the totem poll. A former Cage Warriors Champion, Shore brings vast experienced and a winning pedigree, factors that could turn him into a contender sooner than later. Meanwhile, Valiev has looked vastly better since his UFC debut. One in which he dominated, gassed out and was finished. Luckily for Valiev, the fight was overturned to a no contest. A winner of two straight, with a solid victory over Raoni Barcelos, Valiev is nearing the division’s top fifteen.
As for a prediction, I have Shore winning. While Valiev is tough out for anyone, being that he very well rounded, Shore just seems to be stronger in his strength’s than Valiev. Those strength’s being wrestling and grappling. Having completed fifteen takedowns in four fights at an accuracy of 41%, Shore has had little trouble implementing his game on opponents thus far. An evolving striker, Shore can be beaten on the feet. I’d even go as far as saying, Valiev is the better striker and can win this fight if he can keep it upright. However, Valiev has shown to have a questionable chin. Not that I think Shore is going to drop Valiev, but the Russian has been knocked down three times in three UFC fights. So if anything, Shore has a puncher’s chance should he not be able to get Valiev down. Nevertheless, I don’t think that will be the case. So with all that said, I predict that Shore will remain undefeated, winning via decision.
125 lbs.: Luana Carolina vs. Molly McCann – We have a fun fight in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Molly “Meatball” McCann takes on Luana “Dread” Carolina. Coming off an important victory over Ji Yeon Kim, one in which halted a two-fight skid, McCann will look to find some consistency. Having won four of her last six, a spot in the top fifteen could happen with a victory here. Meanwhile, Carolina comes into this bout on a two-fight win streak. Having won three of her four fights inside the octagon, it may be time to start give Carolina the proper attention.
As for a prediction, I have McCann winning. While Carolina is a good striker and holds a significant two inch height and a seven inch reach advantage, McCann is just a dog. Relentless with pressure and high output, McCann brings it every time she steps into the octagon. Ranking top five in significant strikes per minutes, accuracy and striking defense, McCann is one of the division’s best on the feet. She’s also shown improvements in her wrestling, landing two of more takedowns in her four victories. Seeing that Carolina has good takedown defense, we may not see McCann effectively land a takedown. However, McCann should do just fine on the feet. Especially considering that she just defeated a similar opponent in Kim, who had a 10 inch reach advantage. So with that said, I predict that McCann will grit this one via decision.
125 lbs.: Cody Durden vs. Muhammad Mokaev – We have an intriguing fight in the Bantamweight division, as UFC newcomer Muhammad “The Punisher” Mokaev takes on Cody Durden. Coming into his UFC debut with hype, Mokaev will look to prove that he is the real deal. Undefeated as a professional and in his twenty-three amateur fights, Mokaev brings forth an unmatched winning pedigree. Meanwhile, Durden has been through it all in only three UFC fights. He’s got a win, a loss and a draw. Something which may be a first in the UFC. Coming off the victory though, Durden has a chance to find some consistency.
As for a prediction, I have Mokaev winning. No offense to Durden, who is a solid wrestler, but this fight is going to be one-sided. Mokaev is a future Champion at Flyweight, possessing a well rounded game that is highlighted by incredible wrestling and grappling. A four-time IMMAF gold medalist, the Dagestani born is a mauler like fellow countrymate Khabib Nurmagomedov. Possessing fluid striking, mixing in his strikes and kicks, there is a real possibility that Mokaev can reign over both the Flyweight and Bantamweight division. Obviously super high on Mokaev, I see it very unlikely that Durden can win this. Seeing that his strength of wrestling is out the window and his striking isn’t polished, there is nothing outside of a puncher’s chance here for Durden. Also, the deeper the fights goes, the uglier it will get for Durden. So with that said, I predict that Mokaev wins this fight via submission.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Makwan Amirkhani vs. Mike Grundy – We have a potential pink-slip fight in the Featherweight division, as Mike Grundy takes on Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani. Struggling to win since a successful debut, Grundy will look to put a halt to a two-fight skid. Seeing that Grundy had won nine straight prior to the losing streak, and that his most recent fight was a majority decision loss, I wouldn’t count out Grundy just yet. Meanwhile, Amirkhani has lost three consecutive fights. Once one of the hottest prospects to grace the octagon, Amirkhani is on the brink of seeing his UFC tenure run it’s course. One that started back in 2015.
As for a prediction, I have Grundy winning. While Amirkhani certainly has the grappling edge, Grundy is better everywhere else. Not by a wide margin, but Grundy has power on the feet, is physically strong and has solid wrestling abilities. Both men spam takedowns, but Grundy is the more relentless of two, attempting 38 takedowns in three fights inside the octagon. With immense strength, I don’t see Grundy having problems either fending off or taking down Amirkhani. The only real worry I have, is Amirkhani catching Grundy in a submission. Then again, Grundy has only been submitted once in his career. Back in 2015 no less. If Grundy elects to keep it standing, Amirkhani does very little in regards to output. Landing a mere 1.47 strikes per minute, and having never eclipsed more than 32 strikes in fight, Amirkhani isn’t one to outpoint anyone on the feet. Throw in his cardio issues and there is just too many holes in his game to overcome. So with that said, I predict that Grundy will win via decision.
115 lbs.: Cory McKenna vs. Elise Reed – We have an intriguing fight in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Cory “Poppins” McKenna takes on Elise Reed. Coming off a successful debut over Kay Hansen, McKenna will look continue her rise up the Strawweight division. A winner of four straight, two of came inside the distance, McKenna heads into her second UFC appearance with momentum. Meanwhile, Reed look to capture her first UFC victory. Having lost in her UFC debut, in a tough draw against veteran Sijara Eubanks, Reed will hope to hone her skills against someone more on par with her.
As for a prediction, I have McKenna winning. An underdog in back-to-back fights, McKenna has proven that she is better than most think. Primarily a wrestler, McKenna has shown improvements in her striking. Something she will need to continue to evolve, as the upper echelon of the division will eat her up. However, at only twenty-two years old, McKenna has a long time to continue to grow. In this fight, Reed may have have the edge on the feet, but McKenna can neutralize Reed similarly to how Eubanks did. Takedowns, control time and ground-and-pound. All of which are strengths of McKenna. So with that said, I predict that McKenna wins via decision.Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Vince Morales vs. Nathaniel Wood – The curtain jerker comes in the Bantamweight division, as Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood takes on Vince “Vandetta” Morales. Having not fought since October of 2020, Wood will look to shake off the rust in his return to the octagon. A loser of two of his last three, Wood comes into this fight needing to get back in win column. Seeing that he has never lost two straight in his career, history is on his side. Meanwhile, Morales comes into this fight off back-to-back wins. The most recent fight being Morales’ best performance inside the octagon, as he finished Luis Smolka in the opening round.
As for a prediction, I have Wood winning. While I do worry about the lengthy layoff, Wood brings forth a well rounded game highlighted by his high motor. Eclipsing over 100 strikes in back-to-back fights, Wood is relentless with activity from the opening bell to the end. Not just a striker, Wood has shown to be an adequate wrestler with good grappling. Two factors that could have a real impact on this fight, as Morales is a pure striker who has struggled against takedown attempts. However, Morales has shown an ability to pop up, never truly being held down for long periods of time. While I do believe Wood mixes in takedowns to sway the judges, on the feet, his high output alone should able to carry him. An output that is top ten all-time in the Bantamweight division. So with that said, I predict that Wood will win this fight via decision.