Muhammad Mokaev v. Cody Durden
This fight was lightning fast and a perfect tone setter for the jam packed O2 Arena in London. Mokaev and Durden had been talking a lot of trash back and forth leading up to this fight. When the opening bell rings they rush to meet in the middle and Mokaev throws a quick kick to push Durden back and make him respect the distance. Durden throws a punch that misses and then Mokaev throws a head kick that partially grazes. When Durden blitzes in the next time Mokaev throws a knee up the middle and catches Durden flush and drops him. Mokaev quickly follows him to the ground and locks in a choke during the chaotic scramble. Durden flops around to different positions trying to escape but his resistance is futile. Eventually he realizes there is no escaping and he is left no choice but to tap out. A lightning fast debut for the young 21 year that only lasts 58 seconds. Mokaev by first round submission.
Elise Reed v. Cory McKenna
In the very first exchange of this fight Reed comes out and lands a right hand flush. In the next several exchanges she does it two more times. Something about the timing or the angle is catching McKenna off guard. Although McKenna is eating them with what appears to be no problem, there’s only so many of those that a fighter can take before they start having costly consequences. McKenna continues to be the fighter who is the aggressor marching forward. As the round progresses McKenna starts finding success of her own and landing occasionally but as a whole it is still Reed that is edging out the exchanges. Towards the end of the round though, McKenna finally lands a takedown and is able to land a good deal of ground strikes. This may have been enough to steal her the round in a very closely contested opening round. In the second round Reed continues to have her way in the striking exchanges. McKenna has her brief moments of success but for the most part it is Reed that is showing a clear advantage in the punching exchanges. McKenna is able to land another takedown in the last ten seconds but this time it does not appear to be enough in a round that felt like it was mostly all Reed. In the final round McKenna is able to get another takedown but this time with much more time to work. She secures top control and starts peppering with shots. Reed is able to get back up though and starts taking control on the feet once again. As the fight comes to an end it still felt like Reed had done enough to secure the win. The judges agreed. Reed by split decision.
Jack Shore v. Timur Valiev
The opening round of this fight was very competitive. Shore was the aggressor who walked forward while Valiev bounced around on the outside looking for counter strikes. It was clear that Valiev was very aware of the grappling intentions of Shore so he was careful to keep distance the best that he could. When Shore did close the distance and grab Valiev, he was only able to find success in the clinch along the fence. No takedown was ever scored for Shore. This made for a very competitive first round and a tough round to score for the judges. In the second round Shore continued with his walking forward approach and was able to get clinches along the fence again. This time he was finally able to take down Valiev but it was very short lived and Valiev hopped right back up to the feet. Right after that exchange, Valiev was able to get a takedown of his own that looked like it was done with a little more authority. He also was able to hold his takedown longer although it was still not a very long time before Shore was able to hop right back up himself. In the third round Shore had his best moment when he lands flush and drops Valiev. He hops on the back of Valiev while he’s still injured on the ground but Valiev is able to recover and work right back up once again. Shortly after Valiev lands an elbow and then during the next grappling exchange is able to lock in a very tight guillotine on Shore. Shore looks to be in a good deal of trouble but he is able to tough it out and survive. The London crowd erupts. In the final minute Shore rocks Valiev again and the crowd is now deafening. Valiev survives and even is able to attempt an armbar in the final seconds. A very exciting and competitive back and forth fight. In the end, the judges felt that it was Shore who had done enough. Shore by unanimous decision.
Nikita Krylov v. Paul Craig
When the bell rings to start this bout both fighters sprint across the cage and start throwing immediately. Krylov lands but Craig is able to grab a takedown and take the fight to the floor. Krylov is able to reverse during the scramble though and ends up in top control. From there Krylov starts landing good ground strikes that are clearly hurting Craig. At one point it looks like Craig goes out but then the very next strike wakes him back up before the referee can notice what had just happened. Craig stays on his back and continues to eat hard strikes and is getting dominated very badly. Then out of nowhere, in typical Craig fashion, he finally is able to find a submission opportunity and quickly locks in a triangle. The triangle is extremely tight and although Krylov tries to scramble his way out the submission is just way too tightly locked in. Krylov is left no choice but to tap out. Craig by first round submission.
Shamil Abdurakhimov v. Sergei Pavlovich
The start of this fight was mild as both fighters showed a high respect for their opponents punching power. However, once the punches started flying they were thrown with full power. Each fighter had their moments. After observing a bit, it was clear that Abdurakhimov was trying to punch his way into the clinch and/or takedown attempts. Pavlovich was wise to this though and was able to evade all of the attempts. Eventually, Pavlovich finally lands that big dynamite strike that drops Abdurakhimov instantly. Pavlovich stands over him and starts raining down follow up shots. Abdurakhimov covers up and tries to dodge back and forth while shelled up on the ground. The referee stands over and starts shouting warnings but the efforts are too little. It only takes a short time for Pavlovich to continue blasting strikes and force the referee into having no choice but to stop the fight. Another very impressive performance for Pavlovich to get back on track after being away for a while. Pavlovich by first round TKO.
Mike Grundy v. Makwan Amirkhani
Grundy comes into this fight after just having lost his father who had terminal lung cancer. Grundy seemed laser focused and wanted to get an emphatic win in honor of his late father. Both fighters meet in the middle and start trading. It doesn’t take long for Grundy to follow up one of his punches with a lightning fast takedown attempt. Unfortunately for him though he leaves his neck exposed. Amirkhani snatches the neck quickly and locks in a choke. Grundy tries to roll out of it several times but each time Amirkhani is making adjustments and slowly is tightening the choke more and more. Eventually Amirkhani is also able to lock down the legs of Grundy while still squeezing on the neck which only intensifies the squeeze. After squirming and scrambling several times Grundy finally stops moving and the referee realizes he is no longer conscious. A devastating loss for Grundy who had already had a very hard month leading into this fight. On the other side though, this was a very fast and much needed win for Amirkhani to finally get him back on track. Amirkhani by first round submission.
Ilia Topuria v. Jai Herbert
This fight ended up being the toughest test of Topuria’s career thus far. He moved up a weight class and was taking on a fighter who was much taller and had an eight inch reach advantage. In the opening round Topuria was having trouble with the distance and reach and was getting touched up pretty bad. We had never seen Topuria deal with this. Then out of nowhere, Herbert lands a flush head kicks that drops Topuria instantly. Herbert rushes in to land ground strikes but Topuria lunges for the legs and locks on. He is able to get a much needed takedown to buy himself time to recover. While on top he is dripping blood on his opponent but still in the fight. A nice recovery for Topuria but the round was still a clear cut for Herbert. In the second round Topuria is now completely recovered but still must figure out a way to deal with the reach disadvantage that stands directly in front of him. While the fighters exchange Herbert backs against the cage which now limits the directions he can evade. Topuria sees his moment and throws a blistering combo. A left hand lands hard to the body of Herbert followed by and absolute dynamite right hand that lands flush and drops Herbert immediately. He is unconscious before he even hits the ground. An incredible comeback for Topuria in the new weight class after fighting through adversity and being behind like we have never seen him do before. Topuria by second round KO.
Molly McCann v. Luana Carolina
In the opening round of this fight the crowd is erupting at the aggression of McCann as she is one of the local heroes on this event. McCann, an always passionate fighter, charges forward with combinations and eventually lands flush and wobbles Carolina. This only adds fuel to her fire and she charges forward even harder and throws even more insane flurries. The crowd is on their feet at this point. Carolina covers up though and is able to evade any of the real big shots. Carolina has the clear height and reach advantage but McCann continues to just march forward with flurries to get on the inside. After a wild round it is clear that McCann wins the round but it will be interesting to see how she handles the adrenaline dump after the insanely intense opening round. In the second McCann seems slightly calmed down partly due to the instruction of her coaches in between rounds. McCann is able to land a takedown fairly early in the round which is an excellent idea for her. However, she is not really able to do much with the takedown as Carolina is able to tie up and prevent most of the ground strikes. Eventually, McCann just stands back up and lets her opponent up as well. When Carolina gets back to her feet she starts letting her strikes go more now and is finding success. By the end of the round Carolina has out landed McCann by a considerable amount. The fight may be tied at one round a piece going into the final round. In the third, Molly is showing signs of slowing down while Carolina is starting to look more confident. The fighters continue to exchange and then out of nowhere it happens. McCann throws a spinning elbow while Carolina is coming in and lands flush. McCann is knocked out cold instantly. The O2 Arena erupts as McCann runs out of the cage and circles the arena floor with the crowd erupting and reaching out for her. A beautiful scene for one of the sweetest personalities in the UFC. McCann by third round KO.
Gunnar Nelson v. Takashi Sato
Gunnar Nelson finally comes back into the UFC after a long layoff from a bad rib injury. He draws a heavy handed Sato who is known for his dangerous knockout power. Nelson, who is considered an elite grappler, comes out with his usual karate style stance where he bounces sideways and leaves that front leg out far in front. Sato tries to land some haymakers but Nelson evades and counters back with straight strikes. Eventually Nelson is able to secure a takedown and take the back of Sato. From there Nelson blasts the side of the head of Sato while also reaching around occasionally to land strikes to the front of the head as well. Sato endures the punches though and doesn’t give Nelson what he wants, which is for Sato to remove the placement of his guard that protects his neck. Instead, he just sufferes through the very hard and annoying strikes of Nelson. Sato survives the first round but he loses the round in a very clear way. In the second Sato marches forward with intention as it is obvious he wants to get payback for the damage he took in the first. Unfortunately for him it doesn’t take long before Nelson can duck under and land another takedown. From there Nelson works and continues to improve his position until he can eventually take the back of Santo once again. By the time we reach the final minute of the second, Nelson once again has Sato in the exact same position. Nelson is once again on the back with a body triangle locked in tightly, while blasting hard shots to the head of Sato. Another clear cut round in the favor of Nelson. Going into the final round Sato will need a finish if he wants to get the win. As the third round begins to unfold, Sato is not choosing to open up with the striking due to his fear of being taken down again. Eventually though, he still gets taken down anyway. Once again Nelson is on the back with a body triangle locked in and Sato is helpless to escape while taking extremely hard shots from behind. This round seems to be the worst one yet for Sato who just takes shot after shot with Nelson back and forth with hard shots to the head and body. Sato somehow is able to survive to the end despite the several warnings from the referee indicating that this fight was close to being stopped. A tiny moral victory for Sato but in the end he was absolutely dominated from the start of the fight to the finish. An impressive victory for Nelson in his comeback from a long layoff. Nelson by unanimous decision.
Paddy Pimblett v. Rodrigo Vargas
Pimblett comes to this fight with an insane amount of hype, especially for only having one fight in the UFC prior. Part of the appeal he has to the fans is his unwavering amount of extreme confidence. I’ve said it before and I will say it again though, if he does not fix his striking defense ASAP, he will have a rude awakening and be humbled badly. As the opening round starts it only takes a matter of seconds before Vargas lands flush and slightly wobbles Pimblett. The striking defense of Pimblett is almost non existent as he continues to rely on his chin. However, the most jaw dropping mistake by Vargas follows almost immediately after showing his very clear striking advantage. He lands flush while Pimblett has his back against the cage and Vargas immediately ducks under and chooses to grapple the grappler. Vargas gets the takedown and starts landing ground strikes. Pimblett eventually starts complaining to the referee that there is no action while at the same time getting punched in the face. To Pimblett’s credit though, he eventually is able to get back to his feet on his own without the referee’s help. From there he eventually uses a hip throw to emphatically flip Vargas to the canvas. From there Pimblett is able to take the back which is a position where he excels the most. It only takes a short time before he is able to lock in a rear naked choke. Vargas tries to fight it off but after a few attempts of fighting the hand he realizes there is no escape. He is forced to tap out. Another exciting win for the hyped up Pimblett which very much pleases the roaring fans in the sold out O2 Arena. Pimblett by first round submission.
Arnold Allen v. Dan Hooker
Arnold Allen is one of the most underrated fighters in all of the UFC. With Dan Hooker moving down in weight classes to try his hand at the featherweights, Allen now draws his most high profile fight of his career. A win here would finally put his name up higher with the fans where it belongs. Getting a victory over Dan Hooker is no easy feat though. As the opening bell rings the fighters meet in the middle and Hooker throws a quick jab to test his range. Allen is bouncing in and out and side to side in order to remain a moving target. He throws back while Hooker continues to throw his own attacks as well. Both fighters are evading for the most part but Hooker is the one who is moving forward and trying to corner the bouncing Allen. Eventually Allen is able to land a flush shot that rocks Hooker. From there Allen releases a 40 punch flurry with all his might to try and get the finish. Hooker gets hit with several shots and is wobbled even more. As per usual with a Hooker fight, he is able to survive off of his toughness and heart. At the very end of the gigantic flurry from Allen, Hooker is able to land a shot of his own that very briefly drops Allen to one knee. He gets back up and they finally meet back in the middle and resume the normal more calmed pace. The crowd is erupting as Allen is clearly trying to recover from that huge output of energy. Hooker is trying to recover from the onslaught of damage. As the fighters exchange Allen is able to once again land flush and rock Hooker. The chaotic flurry once again ensues. This time Allen is able to land enough flush follow up shots that the referee has finally seen enough. The fight is stopped and the crowd erupts once again. A tough featherweight debut for Hooker but a huge high profile for Allen to finally get his shine. Allen by first round TKO.
Alexander Volkov v. Tom Aspinall
In the opening round of this main event Aspinall immediately starts showing his speed advantage that has got him so far in the heavyweight division already. He lands a few good shots that appear to catch Volkov off guard, even with Volkov being aware of the speed advantage coming into the fight. Shortly after, Aspinall ducks under and gets a very wise takedown. From there he starts landing hard punches and elbows that quickly open up a cut on the head of Volkov. After a bit of punishment, Volkov is able to work his way back to his feet. From there they begin trading strikes again and once again, Aspinall wisely ducks under again and lands another very convincing takedown. He lands a couple more ground strikes and then starts pursuing a kimura. After a second or two it appears that the kimura is an actual threat and before you can blink Volkov is tapping out. A very impressive win for the rapidly rising Aspinall in his first main event and his first fight in front of fans. The London crowd once again erupts as another one of their own has an incredible evening. Aspinall by first round submission.