For the second time in 2022, the UFC is going to London to put on one of the most exciting cards of the year. If you watched the last one, which may be in the lead for card of the year, you’ll recognize a lot of the same fighters. Just like last time, Tom Aspinall will headline the card, this time taking aim at Curtis Blaydes. We’ll also see fan-favourite Paddy ‘the Baddy’ Pimblett try and make a statement against Jordan Leavitt while his teammate, Molly McCann, aims to grab another HUGE finish, this time over Hannah Goldy. Other fighters from before, looking to make a statement include Paul Craig, Makwan Amirkhani, Jai Herbert and the sensational rookie, Muhammad Mokaev.

The main card will also feature two more high-profile ranked matchups. The co-main will feature Jack Hermansson and Chris Curtis, who took this fight on short notice after an impressive win less than a month ago. Finally, we’ll see one of the greatest lightheavyweights of all time, Alexander Gustafsson, return to his favourite division to take on Nikita Krylov.

All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds. As a special bonus, the final episode of The Ultimate Fighter Season 30: Peña vs. Nunes (as seen on UFC Fight Pass) is also covered below.

Main Card (12:00 PM PST)

Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir

BET99 Odds

Craig:  +125    Oezdemir:  -155

Over 2.5:  +175     Under 2.5:  -234

Hoping to give the British fighters their first win of the main card is Paul Craig. It’s looked pretty rough for Paul Craig in quite a few of his fights, but he usually overcomes his adversity with his grappling. With his sensational ground game, he’s managed to go 5-0-1 in his last six with FOUR 1st Round submissions.

Oezdemir hasn’t been as lucky lately, going 2-5 in his last seven with losses to Cormier, Smith, Reyes, Jiri and Ankalaev. He broke those losses up with a split decision win over Rakic and a win over Latifi.

It’s tough to say how this fight is going to go. The gameplan is clear for both men: Craig wants to grapple and Oezdemir wants to strike. The differences became more clear when watching both of their matchups against Ankalaev. Even though Ankalaev is VERY talented wherever the fight goes, he had a lot of trouble with Craig’s ground game. On the other side, Volkan was kind of dominated on the feet by Ankalaev and hasn’t really showed much evidence of a ground game. Craig may get hit by some big strikes, but with his ability to clinch, wrestle and submit pretty much anyone, I predict another finish for Craig.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Craig by Finish

Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy

BET99 Odds

McCann:  -434    Goldy:  +320

Over 2.5:  -267     Under 2.5:  +200

Fresh off of her potential KO of the YEAR, spinning back elbow over Luana Carolina, Molly McCann returns against Hannah Goldy. Before that spectacular KO win, McCann had a decent record of 4-3 with wins over Ariane Lipski and Diana Belbita, as well as decision losses to Lara Fritzen and Taila Santos.

Goldy is much less experienced with only three UFC fights since her win on the Contender Series. Sadly, that includes two decision losses to Miranda Granger and Diana Belbita.

It’s rare to see a WMMA fight with a fairly clear winner, but this seems to be the case here. Goldy is less experienced, hasn’t had a good track record in the UFC and gets hit quite a bit. McCann is a dangerous striker who never stops pressuring forward and has a lot of power. In her last bout against Carolina, she shredded her and grabbed that HUGE KO even though Carolina had a 7 inch reach advantage. I just don’t see Goldy being able to compete with McCann’s pressure. I predict another finish for McCann.

BLÜ’s Prediction

McCann by Finish

Nikita Krylov vs. Alexander Gustafsson

BET99 Odds

Krylov:  -209    Gustafsson:  +166

Over 2.5:  +105     Under 2.5:  -134

After taking an extended leave from the sport, one of the best light heavyweights in UFC history,’the Mauler’ Alexander Gustafsson makes his return to the division against Krylov. Gustafsson has fought most of the best fighters in this division’s history including TWO fights against the GOAT, Jon Jones. Since that last title shot against Jones, he was submitted in the 4th Round by Anthony Smith and made a move to the heavyweight division for a quick loss to Fabricio Werdum.

Krylov has also struggled recently with a 2-4 record, losing to Blachowicz, Teixera and Ankalaev, as well as wins over St. Preux and Johnny Walker.

This one could really go either way. Gustafsson is a true legend of the sport, but, like many veterans at this stage of their career, he hasn’t been active and he hasn’t been successful recently. The difference is that Gustafsson’s style lends itself to this kind of matchup. He’s got great striking, especially his kicks and counters, plus he moves a lot. Krylov doesn’t move much, but he’s got good grappling. Krylov’s one chance to win is by grabbing a submission or by dominating him with wrestling. The problem with that is that Gustafsson is difficult to take down… if you can even catch him in the first place because he moves so much. With Gustafsson’s grappling defence, movement and striking, he should be able to edge ahead in a decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Gustafsson by Decision

Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt

BET99 Odds

Pimblett:  -260   Leavitt:  +210

Over 2.5:  +137    Under 2.5:  -180

Paddy is only heading into his third UFC fight, but he’s already become one of the biggest fan-favourites in the sport. This time, he’ll be facing another dangerous recent addition to the UFC: Jordan Leavitt. Paddy ‘the Baddy’ has gone 4-0, all 1st Round finishes since COVID started. That being said, I don’t mean to diminish his achievements, but his competition hasn’t been all that strong.

Leavitt, on the other hand, has had a couple of tough tests in the UFC since grabbing his contract on the Contender Series in 2020. He was undefeated at that point, but has since gone 3-1, with his lone loss coming by decision to Claudio Puelles.

I still stand by what I’ve said about Paddy: he’s good, but he’s not good enough to break the top 20 yet. Leavitt is decent; he’s got a fantastic ground game, but this is a fight that plays perfectly to Paddy’s strengths. Paddy will walk forward, overwhelm Leavitt with his WILD striking and either grab a TKO or a sub when he jumps on top of him. Leavitt doesn’t have anywhere near enough power to stop Paddy on the feet, plus he was already stuck in submissions by a couple of his other opponents and you can’t do that with Paddy.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Pimblett by Finish

Co-Main Event

Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Curtis

BET99 Odds

Hermansson:  -112   Curtis:  -110

Over 2.5:  -128   Under 2.5:  +100

After solidifying his top 15 spot with a 4-fight win-streak from 2018-19, Hermansson has had a rough time with other ranked fighters, going 2-3. He grabbed an incredible 1st Round submission over Gastelum, but lost in decisions to Vettori and Strickland recently.

Curtis, on the other hand has been unstoppable since joining the UFC, now up 3-0 over Hawes, Allen and just beat Rodolfo Vieira less than a month ago.

On paper this is a close fight, but when you watch their last few fights, it’s pretty clear that Curtis holds a huge edge in this matchup. Curtis has HEAVY striking, decent grappling offence and fantastic takedown defence. This is a nightmare for Hermansson as he’s struggled in the past against this exact kind of fighter. Hermansson will likely extend this fight thanks to his wrestling, but it seems almost inevitable that Curtis will grab a finish here.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Curtis by Finish

Main Event

Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall

BET99 Odds

Blaydes:   +116    Aspinall:   -143

Over 3.5:  +145    Under 3.5:  -186

Capping off this incredible card, Blaydes will attempt to stop the surging Aspinall from entering the top 5. Blaydes may be one of the most underrated heavyweights in the UFC. Since joining he’s earned a VERY impressive record of 11-3. To make that even more impressive, TWO of those losses were to N’Gannou and one was to Lewis, all 3 of those being a KO/TKO.

Aspinall has absolutely shredded through every single one of his UFC opponents so far, going 5-0 with FOUR 1st Round finishes and one in the 2nd Round.

Blaydes is a fantastic, top-tier heavyweight contender, but Aspinall is just on a whole different level. Aspinall is the fastest heavyweight by FAR, has incredible wrestling and some of the best striking in the division. Blaydes has good wrestling, but he’s a little slow and gets hit a lot on the feet. This is the perfect fight for Aspinall to get another HUGE 1st Round finish over a top contender, likely by KO.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Aspinall by Finish

BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 9:00 AM PST)

Muhammad Mokaev vs. Charles Johnson

BET99 Odds

Mokaev:  -500    Johnson:  +350

Over/Under Not Available

Mokaev made his only UFC appearance earlier this year, also in London in one of the most impressive debut performances of the year. He grabbed on of the fastest submissions in flyweight history; a guillotine to finish Cody Durden in 58 seconds.

Johnson is actually having his own UFC debut this week, currently on a 4-fight win-streak in LFA after a loss to one of best flyweights in the UFC: Brandon Royval.

This may actually be an even easier matchup for Mokaev than his last one. Johnson’s record looks decent, but in his last fight, right at the start, he was taken down multiple times pretty easily and got lit up pretty bad. We know how fast Mokaev starts his fights; he’s going to run straight through Johnson and cash that UFC bonus check.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Mokaev by Finish

Ľudovít Klein vs. Mason Jones

BET99 Odds

Klein:   +266     Jones:   -350

Over 2.5:  +100    Under 2.5:  -125

Both of these men are fairly recent additions to the UFC. Klein, who joined in 2020, has gone 2-2 so far with a split decision win over Devonte Smith in his last and losses to Landwehr and Trizano before that.

Jones joined just last year and has a similar record of 1-1 (1 No Contest). He came in undefeated, but then lost in his debut in a decision to Mike Davis. He then dominated Alan Patrick but didn’t get the win due to an accidental eye poke that led to a ‘No Contest’ and followed that up with an impressive win over David Onama.

This is one of the closer matchups on the night. Klein’s record isn’t all that impressive, but he’s quick and has some pretty dangerous striking and decent grappling. Jones is just as well-rounded, but seems to be slightly better in each area of fighting, plus he’s got great cardio. Klein will make this a good fight, but it seems like Jones will a little too much for him and he’ll win a close decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Jones by Decision

BLÜ’s Best Bets

Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC London. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.

The Underdog: Paul Craig at +125

This is a battle of styles; Oezdemir is a dangerous striker and Craig is a submission wizard. In that kind of matchup, it’s usually the better idea to go with the grappler, so Craig is statistically the better choice. We also can’t forget that Craig will have a HUGE crowd behind him to cheer him on. With the crowd and Craig’s unbelievable submission ability, +125 is worth the risk.

The Underdog: Chris Curtis at -110

Curtis is fresh off another HUGE win and he’s shown to be extremely well-rounded and tough. This is exactly the kind of fighter that Hermansson struggles with. Everything in this matchup seems to lean towards Curtis, making his -110 betting line look VERY juicy.

The Underdog: Alexander Gustafsson at +166

He may be on a 3-fight losing streak, but he’s also one of the greatest fighters in this division’s history. Gustafsson will be slowed down by some of Krylov’s grappling, but his striking and movement should win him a tight decision win. Krylov doesn’t seem skilled enough to shut down Gustafsson’s offence.

Parlay Opportunities

The Short Run

Mokaev + Wood + Pimblett + Aspinall

The Long Run

Herbert + Mokaev + Wood + Diakese + McCann + Pimblett + Aspinall

TUF 30: Episode 12 Recap

For the milestone 30th season of the Ultimate Fighter, we’re following coaches Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes as they lead teams of heavyweights and flyweight women to find the next UFC superstars. In the last episode we saw the last heavyweight semifinal of the season: a fairly close decision win by Mohammed Usman (Team Peña) over Eduardo Perez (Team Nunes).

In this FINAL episode we saw the last flyweight semifinal of the season: a tight matchup between Juliana Miller (Team Peña) and Kaitlyn Neil (Team Nunes).

If you missed the earlier episodes, Team Peña’s Juliana Miller grabbed her spot in the semifinals in one of the most exciting fights of the season. In a rematch of her only career loss, she had a TOUGH scrap against Claire Guthrie (Team Nunes), but ultimately won the decision. On the other side, Kaitlyn Neal (Team Nunes) barely edged ahead in a tight decision against a dangerous Helen Peralta (Team Peña).

Using her teammate, Guthrie, to her advantage, Neal grabbed some much-needed intel to make a strategy to fight Miller. Although Miller came out HARD against Guthrie, they were wondering if maybe that was because she was very emotional for that fight. Instead, they wondered if she’d be more calculated in this fight. They’ve also mentioned the fact that Juliana had a ROUGH fight against Guthrie and hasn’t had the time to recover.

Nunes was just as optimistic, saying that Neil is much stronger, moves a lot and can compete with Miller’s Jiu-Jitsu. Miller was just as confident, saying that the matchup favours her because Neil likes to point-fight and clinch, whereas she’s WILD and can get in close for takedowns.

As a reward for getting through the entire season of TUF, Dana White decided to treat the times to a night out in Vegas. Peña decided to take her team to see the Jabbawockeez, while Nunes decided to go to a fun restaurant with her team. Neither woman had any issues making the weight. Both of them were VERY motivated, but Miller was FIRED UP.

As expected, Miller ran in immediately, trying to bring the fight to Neil. After lighting her up, she went into a clinch with Neil and dragged her to the ground. Interestingly, Neil managed to reverse her and they stood back up. After more dominant, aggressive striking from Miller, she dragged Neil down to the ground, this time taking her back. Kaitlyn managed to break up the action and stand up momentarily after a couple of minutes, but was quickly dragged back down by a heavy Miller. From there Juliana had a deep submission going on Neil’s arm. Neil managed to end the round on top, but Miller won a CLEAR 1st Round.

They both took a much slower start to the 2nd Round, but quickly started to move back into a brawl. Neil was getting some good shots in, but Juliana was still clearly doing better in the exchanges. Similar to the opening round, Miller then clinched up with Neil and took the fight to the ground, this time in top position. From there she let loose some HEAVY ground and pound and sunk in a DEEP submission. From there it took only seconds for Neil to tap to a NASTY kimura.

With that HUGE win from Miller, our TUF finale lineup has been set. Miller (Team Peña) will face a (hopefully) fully-healed Brogan Walker (Team Nunes) in the flyweight finale.

On the men’s side it’ll be two from Team Peña, with Zac Pauga squaring off against the team’s number 1 pick, Mohammed Usman. The date for the finale has also been released.

These two matchups, plus, most likely, some matchups featuring other fighters from the season, will be featured August 6th in Vegas on the Thiago Santos vs Jamahal Hill card.  Before that though, we’ll be treated to the BIGGEST women’s fight of 2022: a rematch between the coaches, the champ, Juliana Peña and featherweight champ, Amanda Nunes.

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