After a three year absence the UFC returns to London and the O2 Arena for a huge UFC London fight card, headlined by heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall.
A stacked card will see the two heavyweights competing to get title contention with a win, while we’ll also see the likes of Arnold Allen take on Dan Hooker, Paddy Pimblett makes his UK return while Jack Shore, Nathaniel Wood and Muhammad Mokaev also compete too.
In case you’re unaware, we’ve done a list of five things you must not miss from this card too.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 50 we went 11/14 with three perfect picks to move to 568/879 (64.62%) with 241 perfect picks (42.43%). You can see our full record here.
We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the early prelims.
Muhammad Mokaev (6-0) vs Cody Durden (12-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A super interesting card opener at flyweight between debutant prospect Mokaev and the new most-hated Durden. Mokaev is 6-0 with a stacked 23-0 amateur record making his company debut, while Durden snapped a two-fight winless streak last time out by defeating Aoriqileng before going off on a racist rant in the octagon interview.
Mokaev has earned plaudits and comparisons to Russian duo Khamzat Chimaev for his quick rise, and has solid grappling and striking skills despite being just 21-years-old. Durden is a grinding wrestler who looks to put his opponents on their back and work them over with ground-and-pound. This is a tough debut for ‘The Punisher’, but he has got some great abilities and a chance to claim victory.
Durden will push a hard pace for the first round but his history tells you he will gas. Mokaev will scramble plenty and use his excellent hand speed and kicking techniques, before using his pressure and wrestling himself to wear on Durden and earn a hype TKO win midway through the second after a tough first round.
PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Knockout, Round 2
Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs Vince Morales (11-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs) A very fun bantamweight fight here between one of Britain’s own against a very game opponent. ‘The Prospect’ came into the UFC with really high hopes but has suffered defeat in two of his last three, dropping a decision to Casey Kenny at UFC 254 most recently. Morales steps in on short-notice for this fight on a two-fight win streak, earning a decision against Drako Rodriguez at UFC 265 and then KO’ing Louis Smolka at UFC Vegas 44. Wood is a talented grappler with solid submission skills and nasty low kicks, which serves as a great antidote against Morales’ biggest strength which is a monster right hand. Morales has struggled against pressure fighters with good takedowns in the past and on short notice that makes this an even worse stylistic match up than it would be normally. After a long period out, Wood should be able to use his low kicks from range and mix in takedowns and his speedy one-two to cause trouble and out-point Morales for a much-needed win.
PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision
Cory McKenna (6-1) vs Elise Reed (4-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
An interesting strawweight bout in this one between one homegrown prospect and an American with aspirations of making a name for himself. McKenna is on a four-fight win streak, going 1-0 in the UFC so far aged just 22 with a decision win over Kay Hansen at UFC Vegas 14, while Reed lost her UFC debut getting smashed by Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 32.
McKenna is a good pressure fighter with great hand speed and some good wrestling skills too, mixing up all her techniques well and never losing any sharpness. Reed is a kicker who likes to strike, but she’s naturally smaller having usually competed at atomweight outside the UFC.
This seems like a fight to get McKenna on the radar of the home crowd. At just 22 she’s got a huge future ahead of her and has the edge almost everywhere in this fight if she’s able to close the distance, so I expect her to mix it up well enough to claim a decision win.
PICK – Cory McKenna via Decision