After two years of being confined almost exclusively to the United States, the Octagon will be traveling to the UK this weekend for UFC London at the O2 Arena. This will be the first Fight Night card to take place outside of the Apex or Abu Dhabi since March 2020, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main event features a Heavyweight contest between veteran Alexander Volkov and rising prospect Tom Aspinall. The co-main event shows off Dan Hooker’s return to Featherweight, pitted against a surging Arnold Allen. Elsewhere, UK stars like Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, and Gunnar Nelson.
Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall (HW)
Alexander Volkov (34-9, 8-3 UFC) has made himself a staple at the top of the Heavyweight division, now riding two straight victories over Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris, both coming by second round knockout. Volkov is a tactical, lanky striker who uses his 6’7″ length to establish range and pick apart his opponent from his kickboxing range where they cannot hit him back. Although susceptible to counters inside the pocket, as Derrick Lewis showed in his highlight reel performance, “Drago” can outstrike pretty much any fighter on the roster with his incessant volume, as well as holding knockout victories over former champion Fabricio Werdum and the aforementioned Overeem. Volkov holds twenty three career knockouts, with a variety of punches, kicks, and knees closing the show. Despite having a trio of submissions to his name and surprisingly adept wrestling, Volkov uses his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing, where he almost always holds the technical advantage.
Tom Aspinall (10-2, 4-0 UFC) came though with his UFC debut in spades, knocking out Jake Collier less than a minute into their bout, then finishing his next three opponents, another two via first round knockout. The Brit has finished all of his wins with eight by way of knockout, in addition to all his wins coming in the first round. He has professional boxing experience and training with Tyson Fury, along with a BJJ black belt to bolster his resume as well. Aspinall has impressed me with his composure inside the cage, as well as quick movement for his hulking 6’5″ frame. Even on the mat, the Brit often holds the edge in technique with dangerous submissions off of his back. His recent bout against former champion Andrei Arlovski saw Aspinall dominate on the feet before submitting Arlovski in the second round, just the second such defeat of Arlovski’s 50+ fight career.
This is a major step up in competition for Tom Aspinall, facing his first ranked opponent, and inside the top ten, no less. Volkov is a credentialed striker with a wealth of experience, and will be looking to punish the Brit on any over-extensions, especially if the fight goes longer. That being said, the speed and power advantages of Aspinall outweigh the experience of Volkov and show him to be the more dangerous threat, but he is also the one more likely to mix it up on the mat. I believe Aspinall’s ground game is being slept on, and he will show off that very skillset against Volkov after a contentious back and forth on the feet.
My Pick: Tom Aspinall via Submission
Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker (FTW)
My Pick: Arnold Allen via Decision
Paddy Pimblett vs. Kazula Vargas (LW)
My Pick: Paddy Pimblett via Submission
Gunnar Nelson vs. Takashi Sato (WW)
My Pick: Gunnar Nelson via Submission
Molly McCann vs. Luana Carolina (FLW)
My Pick: Molly McCann via Decision
Jai Herbert vs. Ilia Topuria (LW)
My Pick: Ilia Topuria via Submission
We have an early start time this weekend, with the main card kicking off at 4 PM EST!
Stay tuned to our home page for the live results on Saturday!
Categories: UFC Predictions