The UFC returns to London’s O2 Arena for the second time this year for a stacked card, headlined by a heavyweight duel between top five big-men Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall.
We’ll also see the likes of Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Mason Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Paul Craig and Muhammad Mokaev competing in an event sure to provide plenty of fireworks.
Last week at UFC Long Island we went 8/12 with three perfect picks, moving us up to 685/1032 (64.34%) with 284 perfect picks (42.77%). You can check out our full history of picks here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Makwan Amirkhani (17-7) vs Jonathan Pearce (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A really fun 145-pound fight up next between two great grapplers. Amirkhani snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out, submitting Mike Grundy in just 57 seconds via anaconda choke. Pearce is on a three-fight win streak KO’ing Kai Kamaka III, submitting Omar Morales (UFC 266) and then earning a decision over Christian Rodriguez most recently.
Amirkhani is a great grappler with really tight submission skills to work from, earning 12 submission wins in his career. “JSP” on the other hand is a great wrestler, but he tends to use his physicality to wear on opponents and uses his volume as a weapon to really grind on them. That means this fight goes one of two ways – a quick submission or a dominant display.
I’m leaning towards the dominant display, because Amirkhani isn’t as active from the top as he should be considering his skillset and his cardio lets him down on a regular basis. So long as Pearce doesn’t give up his back early doors, he should be able to use his activity to score points and then eventually grind his way to a wide decision of potentially even a late finish.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Decision
Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs Charles Rosa (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Finally, “The Prospect” is back in a UFC octagon! Wood suffered defeat way back at UFC 254 against Casey Kenney and has seen several fights fall out ever since. Rosa on the other hand has lost his last two, dropping decisions to Damon Jackson and then most recently TJ Brown at UFC Vegas 46.
Wood is a fine striker on the feet but he’s also got some half-decent wrestling and submission skills from the top position. Rosa meanwhile is a great striker and he has got some violent top position which opens up submission attempts, but he has never been able to sort out his God-awful takedown defence and that’s a huge problem in this match up.
His offensive wrestling isn’t good enough to take Wood down at will, and the Brit is very good at scrambling back to his feet anyway. Outside of that, Wood is the better fighter everywhere. He’s a better striker, better wrestler, more powerful and quicker. He chooses how to win this essentially barring a hail Mary submission win, so go with Wood for a W.
PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision
Marc Diakiese (15-5) vs Damir Hadzovic (14-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another British lightweight on the card in this match up. Diakiese suffered back-to-back defeats against Rafael Fiziev and Rafael Alves, before bouncing back with a decision win over Viacheslav Borshchev most recently. Hadzovic did the same in his last fight, beating Yancy Medeiros via unanimous decision.
Diakiese is a solid kickboxer with good power and explosiveness, while his takedown defence is strong too. Hadzovic is a brawler who relies on his heavy hands big time, and hopes to encourage his opponents to be drawn into a scrap with him. Diakiese won’t do that, because he’s got the advantage everywhere this fight goes.
“Bonecrusher” is taller, has a better reach, is the better technical striker and if he really needs it he’s by far the better wrestler too. Hadzovic’s takedown defence is pretty poor and Diakiese has shown great durability throughout his career to make a one-punch KO unlikely, so expect a dominant win for Diakiese.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision
Mason Jones (11-1) vs Ludovit Klein (18-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An absolute barnstormer of a fight gets the featured prelim spot, just one week after the fight got put together. Jones suffered the first defeat of his career to Mike Davis at UFC Fight Island 8, before a no contest against Alan Patrick at UFC Vegas 28. He finally got back in the win column last time out though, dominating David Onama. Klein on the other hand snapped a two fight losing-streak last time out when he grabbed a split decision over Devonte Smith at UFC 272.
Jones is a really well-rounded prospect, who has controlled the distance and pace of all his fights so far and dominated most people with his relentless pressure. Klein meanwhile is a really talented striker, with incredible kicks and striking skills but his overall game tends to let him down against people who won’t have a kickboxing match with him. Jones is almost certain to pressure Klein to death and look to land combinations and knees to the body.
Klein has the ability to knock Jones out because he’s always willing to take a shot to give three back. But if Jones is capable of eating them, in the way he’s been able to against everyone else, then he will walk through them and punish Klein with his pressure. Klein’s cardio tends to let him down later in fights, so expect Jones to really put it on him and maybe even get a finish late on.
PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 3