On paper, UFC London looked like it could rival the excitement of the last London card. Sadly, it didn’t even come close to reaching that level of hype.
Exactly like last week, the main event ended almost immediately with a freak injury out of nowhere. Tom Aspinall landed a clean kick to the thigh of Curtis Blaydes and somehow blew out the knee of Aspinall. Just before that, we saw an unorthodox, evasive strategy from Jack Hermansson that left fans and his opponent, Chris Curtis, upset.
That wasn’t it; we also saw the LEGENDARY light heavyweight, Alexander Gustafsson, get brutally finished by Nikita Krylov in just over a minute. Finally, we also saw Paul Craig pull guard dozens of times, trying to coax Volkan Oezdemir to grapple with him on the ground while Volkan would repeatedly stand him back up to strike.
If that weren’t enough, most of the prelims results in some fairly uneventful decisions. That being said, it wasn’t ALL bad! We saw our favourite fighting Liverpudlians, Paddy ‘the Baddy’ Pimblett and Molly McCann, grab spectacular finishes that had the crowd losing their voices. All of the bouts from UFC London are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
Nicolas Dalby def. Claudio Silva by Unanimous Decision
Silva opened up with the pressure early, back Dalby up into the page, trying to take Dalby down. It took Silva a while to get him there, but he found himself on top of Dalby, working towards an early submission. Dalby was doing a decent job of defending, but Silva was still smothering him his Jiu-Jitsu.
Dalby opened up the 2nd Round HARD with some great kicks and pressure… but was then quickly taken down by Silva. From there, Dalby tried to get back up, but had his back taken against a dangerous Silva. Using that position, Silva started to work for his signature rear naked choke. Then, Dalby finally managed to flip the script, found himself on top and started to let loose some ground and pound. They then moved back to their feet and with Silva gassed out from all of his grappling, Dalby started to really get some huge offence going.
Excited by the change of pace, the crowd would cheer every time Dalby landed a big strike. Thanks to all that offence from Dalby in the second, it seemed to be 1-1 on the cards. Silva tried to get things going in the 3rd Round, but Dalby shut him down and dragged him to the canvas. Just like the second half of the last round, Dalby let loose some ground and pound, trying to grab a finish. With only a couple minutes left in the fight, Silva barely stood back up to fight a good-looking Dalby. Amazingly, he managed to find enough energy to drag Dalby down and work for a couple of final submission attempts. It was an impressive close to the fight, but it seemed likely that Dalby had won 29-28. The judges agreed, scoring it 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27.
Victoria Leonardo def. Mandy Bohm by Unanimous Decision
Bohm was determined to use her length early, kicking at Leonardo from a distance. From there she clinched up, making an early mistake as this gave Leonardo the position she wanted: in close along the fence. Victoria was the one pressuring harder and working for a takedown, but Bohm was doing well to defend. After separating though, Bohm started to get her offence going once again. Sadly, she was quickly taken down once again. It was a VERY close round, but you’d imagine that Leonardo won the opening round with all of her control time.
The next round opened with some good striking from both women, but Leonardo then moved in and pushed Bohm into the fence again. It took her a couple minutes, but Bohm got back to the centre of the Octagon. Interestingly, it was still Leonardo that led the exchanges on the feet and moved back over to the fence. It wasn’t the most exciting clinch battle, which was eventually separated by the ref, but all that control time adds up and she likely found her way up 2-0.
The final round opened the exact same way with some early striking, moving into some heavy clinch-work from Leonardo. It was an extremely close round once again, but Bohm just really wasn’t getting any kind of offence going. She landed a couple of combos near the end of the fight, but was smothered once again by Leonardo and found herself on the canvas to close the fight. It was close and neither woman had really done anything crazy, but I’d have scored it 30-27, maybe 29-28, for Victoria Leonardo.
Jai Herbert def. Kyle Nelson by Unanimous Decision
It was a tight striking match to open, with neither man landing anything significant, but both landing a couple of clean shots. From there it was Nelson that stole the momentum, pushing Herbert into the fence. From there, Jai switched positions and found himself in the dominant spot along the fence. As they separated, Nelson landed some great kicks and probably won the round on the cards.
Herbert came into the 2nd Round with some heat, throwing out some decent combos, pressuring Nelson back. Sadly, this led to some more clinch positions along the fence where Nelson wanted to be. It was another close round, but Herbert seemed to have barely edged ahead in the round. We really could have seen anything on the judges’ cards at this point. Herbert was looking like the much fresher fighter, but seemed to have problems with his leg from all of Nelson’s kicks.
Luckily for Herbert, he found himself on top of Nelson early in the final round. Herbert was trying to get some damage going, but Nelson was doing a fantastic job of shutting down all of his offence. With a minute left in the round, Nelson stood back up, but couldn’t get anything going. I’d have scored it 29-28 for Herbert, but it was a dead-even fight the whole way through. The judges ending up going with the British favourite, Jai Herbert, scoring it 29-28.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Muhammad Mokaev vs. Charles Johnson
This one was an absolute no-brainer; Mokaev seemed to have an edge in every department. This seemed like an easier matchup than Cody Durden and I figured he’d grab another early finish.
Mokaev by Finish
As expected, the crowd exploded as Mokaev took the stage and pushed forward against Johnson. Just like last time, he was pressuring HARD, smoking him with some big combos and throwing him into the canvas. Johnson was defending the takedowns well, but Mokaev was clearly in control. This continued for the entire round with Mokaev dragging Johnson to the ground, but returning quickly back to the feet.
Finally, in the 2nd Round, Mokaev got his takedown, but still couldn’t get anything going with it. After grabbing a second takedown in the round, Mokaev found himself on top, finally getting a bit of damage going.
Johnson opened the final round with his own pressure, but was quickly shut down by the wrestling of Mokaev. Once again, Mokaev just completely dominated Johnson in every position. Johnson had a decent submission locked in at one point, but was forced to let go. It wasn’t the dominant finish from Mokaev that we expected, but it was still an incredible display of grappling prowess from an incredible young contender.
Muhammad Mokaev def. Charles Johnson by Unanimous Decision
Even though we didn’t get the INSANE finish from Mokaev and Johnson didn’t get anything going, I was actually VERY impressed by both men. The wrestling of Mokaev was REALLY tested this time and he passed with flying colours. It’s already at the point that he can clearly compete in the top 15. On the other side, I was actually impressed by Johnson and he could be dangerous himself in this division.
Jonathan Pearce def. Makwan Amirkhani by TKO in the 2nd Round
The fight started off pretty slow, but exploded as Amirkhani shot in for a takedown and Pearce started to throw out HUGE elbows, busting Makwan open. Amirkhani was sinking in some pretty deep submission attempts, but Pearce was doing very well to shut them down. After a few minutes of incredible grappling exchanges, the fight moved back to the feet. It was a tight round, but with all that elbow damage from Pearce and his tight defence, it seemed likely that he edged ahead of Amirkhani.
Amirkhani opened up the 2nd round with some heavy striking, landing some good shots, but Pearce stole the momentum, dragging Makwan to the ground. This time it was clear that Pearce was very much in control, lighting Makwan up with more elbows. After dozens of HUGE strikes that had Makwan busted up, the ref called the fight, giving Pearce a 2nd Round TKO.
Nathanial Wood def. Charles Rosa by Unanimous Decision
Both men were hesitant to let things go early, but the local Wood started the action with a couple of HUGE combos that had Rosa stumbled. Rosa responded with a takedown attempt, but was shut down easily. A couple minutes in and it was clear that Wood had a huge edge in speed, landing kicks and combos all over the place, commanding HUGE reactions from the London crowd. Rosa was still throwing out some good combos, but Wood had SHREDDED Rosa’s leg by the end of the round. Rosa closed the round with a late takedown and a DEEP submission attempt, but I’d have clearly still given the round to Wood.
Wood opened the 2nd Round with some more crisp, heavy shots that had Rosa backing up. Halfway through the round and Rosa looked done; his leg was absolutely destroyed and could barely stand back up. That being said, he was still landing some good shots here and there. After two rounds, it was pretty clear that Wood was ahead on the cards and had a good chance to grab a finish in the final round.
Once again, Wood opened with HEAVY leg kicks that dropped Rosa to the canvas. Clever to avoid any grappling from Rosa, Wood was careful not to get near Rosa after dropping him to the canvas. Rosa was tough and kept throwing out some offence, but Wood kept annihilating Rosa’s leg and landing some crisp combos. He may be a tad small for the division, but Wood put on a fantastic performance to grab a DOMINANT decision win with 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 on the cards.
Marc Diakiese def. Damir Hadzovic by Unanimous Decision
Diakiese opened the fight with some early striking, then moved into a heavy takedown to drag Hadzovic to the canvas. It wasn’t the exciting brawl that the fans were hoping for, but Diakiese was in clear control smothering Damir with wrestling.
After dominating the opening round with his grappling, Diakiese dragged Hadzovic down to the ground early. He still wasn’t really damaging Damir much, but completely controlled all of the exchanges. After a momentary break due to an accidental clash of heads, Hadzovic shot in for a quick takedown, but was shut down and controlled for the rest of the round. Hadzovic opened hard with some striking, but, once again, was quickly dragged down by Diakiese. It certainly wasn’t as explosive as the fans were hoping for, but Diakiese still won a dominant decision win.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Ľudovít Klein vs. Mason Jones
This one was closer than the odds suggested. Klein is a quick, dangerous striker with decent grappling. On the other side, Jones is just as well-rounded, but also has great cardio. With those slight edges, I gave Jones the edge in a tight decision.
Jones by Decision
Like most of the fights so far, the fight started off slow and close. Jones was the one pressuring forward, but it was Klein that was landing more strikes early. From there though, Jones started to work hard in the clinch along the fence. Klein was still doing well, landing some pretty heavy strikes in between the clinches of Jones. Being that both men had landed some heavy shots, it was hard to tell who won the round, but I’d have given it to Jones thanks to the clinchwork and pressure.
Both men opened the 2nd Round with some striking, but Klein was the one who landed first, dropping Jones with a MASSIVE shot. From there, Klein used his position to land some heavy ground and pound. Jones did well to recover and eventually get back up, but Klein was still fully in control. Back in the clinch, Jones went back to landing heavy strikes along the fence. He did well to get some of that momentum back, but Klein CLEARLY won that round on the cards.
Trying to get a finish going, Jones pulled guard to jump for a submission. Sadly, that didn’t go well as Klein quickly found himself on top. From there, Klein was just landing ground and pound while keeping Jones down. It was a risky strategy to go for that kind of move and it just didn’t pay off. After another clear round of control, Klein clearly won 29-28 (at least) on the cards. The judges agreed, all scoring it 30-27 for Klein.
Ľudovít Klein def. Mason Jones by Unanimous Decision
Main Card Action
Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Oezdemir has good striking, but Craig is quick, has decent striking and is unbelievably good on the ground. I figured Craig would get hit on the feet a decent amount, but that he would eventually get the fight to the ground and get a submission win.
Craig by Finish
Oezdemir pressured early, pushing Craig into the fence. That played into Craig’s strategy though as he pulled guard, trying to drag Volkan down to the canvas. It was a scary couple of minutes for Oezdemir with all of the nasty submission attempts, but eventually he got back to his feet. Craig still managed to drag him back down though, really working hard for a submission. With all that submission offence, plus a late combo that landed clean, it seemed likely that Craig won the opening round.
Craig was still clearly looking to move the fight to the ground in the second, but he was doing some decent damage on the feet as well. As the round went on, it looked as though Oezdemir was either starting to tire out or just hesitant to move in because of Paul’s wrestling. He closed out the round though with some heavier striking and a bit more control over Craig. This round was much tougher to score, but I may have given it to Oezdemir thanks to the late action.
Oezdemir started to land some heavy bombs on Craig to open the final round, but stopped after Craig threatened his classic arm triangle. The same trend continued for the rest of the round with Craig pulling guard and Oezdemir backing up. It’s a bizarre kind of round (and fight) to score because once again, Volkan didn’t really threaten a finish at all, while Craig was doing well to threaten submissions. Overall, you’d probably have to give it to Oezdemir, but it was close. The judges clearly didn’t think it was as close, scoring it 30-27 for Oezdemir.
Volkan Oezdemir def. Paul Craig by Unanimous Decision
Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy
It seemed pretty clear here that they were giving Molly a fighter they knew she could easily beat. Since Goldy has a bad habit of getting hit a lot and Molly has great striking and forward pressure, seemed like this was a perfect chance for her to grab a finish.
McCann by Finish
As expected, McCann started to pressure early with her striking against Goldy. After Molly landed started to pick her apart on the feet, Goldy finally got some action going, pushing McCann into the fence. She couldn’t get a takedown though, which led to Molly going back to her striking. After some more heavy striking, Goldy was pressured back into the fence where McCann landed a spinning back elbow, trying to grab another highlight reel finish. She didn’t get it from the elbow, but she started to shred Goldy apart with relentless combos until the ref stopped it. The crowd exploded for the first time of the night as Molly McCann grabbed another impressive TKO win.
Molly McCann def. Hannah Goldy by TKO in the 1st Round
Nikita Krylov vs. Alexander Gustafsson
This matchup seemed pretty close on paper and after watching tape. Gustaffson moves a lot, making it harder for people to hit him or take him down. Since Krylov didn’t show much evidence of movement or high-level striking, I figured Gustafsson would edge ahead in a decision.
Gustafsson by Decision
Gustafsson went in hard with some good strikes to open, but was quickly met with some adversity, getting ROCKED by Krylov. From there, Krylov swarmed Gustafsson and finished the night early, grabbing an impressive TKO win in the 1st round. Not much else to say other than the fact that OG UFC fans everywhere were devastated to see a legend get dismantled that quickly.
Nikita Krylov def. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO in the 1st Round
Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt
Putting all the hype aside, Paddy may not be ready for someone in the top 15 or 20, but he’s more than capable of finishing Leavitt. Leavitt is solid on the ground, but lacks developed striking skills. Most likely that meant an early TKO finish or a submission after dropping Leavitt.
Pimblett by Finish
As expected, Paddy pressured forward early, lighting Leavitt up with a big combo. From there though, Leavitt started to use his wrestling, taking Paddy down. Maybe not taking Paddy’s submission game seriously, he let his guard down, allowing Paddy to lock in a DEEP guillotine. Much to the dismay of the crowd, Leavitt was dominating in the clinch, pinning Paddy to the cage, shooting for takedowns. Paddy was doing well to defend takedowns and threaten submissions, but he was definitely struggling with all the heavy pressure. Just as the round was about to close, Pimblett finally had a moment of his own, dragging Leavitt down and threatening multiple submissions. It’s tough to score a round that’s that close and back and forth. I may have gone Leavitt, but Pimblett did end the round on top with HUGE momentum.
Paddy was trying to get his striking going in the 2nd round, but Leavitt stuck to his game plan, pinning Paddy along the fence. Then it was Paddy who turned the tables, locking in a submission from his feet. From there he landed a HUGE knee that dropped Leavitt. Using that position to his advantage, he took Leavitt’s back and locked in a DEEP rear naked choke. With no way to defend the submission, Leavitt was forced to tap, giving Paddy another submission win.
Paddy Pimblett def. Jordan Leavitt by Submission in the 2nd Round
Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Curtis
This was one of the closest matchups of the night. Hermansson’s clear path to victory was on the ground, while Curtis’ was on the feet. With Curtis’ HUGE striking advantage and grappling defence, it seemed most likely that Hermansson would struggle and eventually get finished.
Curtis by Finish
Both men started slow with not a whole lot of output from either fighter. The first big moment of the fight came from Hermansson as he shot in for a takedown. He was shut down fairly quickly though. Considering there wasn’t really much else in the round, the takedown attempt and distance striking from Hermansson likely gave him the opening round. Curtis kept his forward pressure moving, but couldn’t really land anything. As the round went on, Hermansson finally had the first big moment of the fight, landing HUGE combos against the fence, lighting Curtis up.
After two rounds, it was pretty clear that Curtis needed to do something special in the final round. Curtis really tried to get some offence going, constantly pressuring, but really just couldn’t land anything of significance. He finally managed to land some good shots at the end of the fight, but it was WAY too late for that. It was just an unusual, yet dominant, very evasive performance from Hermansson.
Jack Hermansson def. Chris Curtis by Unanimous Decision
Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall
Blaydes is a top tier heavyweight who’s only been beaten by Ngannou and Lewis, but Aspinall just seems to be on a different level. With his speed, striking and wrestling ability, I predicted an early finish.
Aspinall by Finish
Just as Aspinall was looking like he was going to start doing some HUGE damage, out of absolutely nowhere, he tweaked his knee somehow and the night was over. Just like Ortega and Rakic, yet another freak, devastating accident to close out the card.
Curtis Blaydes def. Tom Aspinall by Injury in the 1st Round
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 2-4
KO of the Night: Nikita Krylov
Sub. of the Night: Paddy Pimblett
Brawl of the Night: Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt
Most Valuable Fighter
It’s rare to see a female fighter that can consistently produce exciting fights and grab finishes. On a night that mostly consisted of slow-paced decisions and unfortunate endings, Molly was one of the few bright spots. We need more fighters like her.