The UFC returns to the O2 Arena in London, England for a huge trilogy bout for the undisputed welterweight title as Leon Edwards defends his title for the first time against Kamaru Usman.
Edwards earned a stunning fifth round comeback win in their fight back in August, and now they run it back in a huge main event.
They’ll be anchored by 14 fights, including the co-main event between lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, as well as local stars like Jack Shore moving up to featherweight, Muhammad Mokaev, Lerone Murphy and Christian Duncan making his UFC debut.
Last time out at UFC Las Vegas we got the main event spot on to improve our percentages, and the last numbered card saw us go 12/14 with six perfect picks to move to 849/1313 (64.66%) with 348 perfect picks (40.99%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims here.
Juliana Miller (4-1) vs Veronica Hardy (6-4-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight fight to open up the card with the women here. Miller earned a stoppage win on her UFC debut against Brogan Walker back in August, while Hardy was beaten in a move up to bantamweight in her last fight against Bea Malecki just over three years ago.
Miller is an excellent takedown artist with some really serious jiu-jitsu skills, but her striking is rather awkward and is a big hurdle for her if she wants to fly up this division. Hardy on the other hand is a decent submission artist herself, but her takedown defence is pretty shocking and her striking is not great too. But she has been away for three years and it’s possible that she has reinvented herself.
The likelihood of that though is highly unlikely, although she is only 27 years old. The most likely outcome here is that “Killer” Miller gets a takedown early on and just controls Hardy on the ground until either an opening for a submission pops up or the buzzer goes for the end of the round.
PICK – Juliana Miller via Decision
Jai Herbert (12-4-1) vs Ludovit Klein (19-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An absolute banger of a striking fight in the lightweight division up next. Herbert has had an exciting time in the UFC but he’s been largely unsuccessful going 2-3, with a KO defeat to Ilia Topuria at UFC London in March last year before getting back to winning ways at the second UFC London card in July with a decision over Kyle Nelson. Klein on the other hand is on a two-fight win streak, with a split decision over Devonte Smith before a unanimous decision win over Mason Jones on that July London card himself.
Herbert is a fantastic boxer with great power in his hands, but his chin hasn’t proved to be the best so far and he seems to leave it hanging in the air quite a lot. Klein is a fantastic kickboxer with fearsome kicks in his arsenal and great power too, and he seems to be more durable and has better cardio since moving up from featherweight. Stylistically this is going to be a kickboxing match pretty much, and Klein is the far superior striker.
If Herbert can use his reach and pressure Klein he will have success, but he has never really been one to fight that way in the past so I expect the Slovakian “Mr Highlight” to get the job done and get the fans on their feet early on.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Knockout, Round 1
Joanne Wood (15-8) vs Luana Carolina(8-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Another women’s flyweight scrap up next. Joanne Wood was on the verge of a title shot before losing to Jennifer Maia, before victory over Jessica Eye. Since then she has lost three in a row though, dropping a decision to Lauren Murphy before being submitted by Taila Santos and Alexa Grasso. Carolina on the other hand was on a two-fight win streak after wins over Poliana Botelho and Lupita Godinez, before a spinning back elbow from Molly McCann last March knocked her unconscious and snapped that streak.
Wood is a really tidy all-round fighter, with some very solid striking and kicks as well as a decent submission game to go with some basic wrestling. Considering Carolina struggled with all of that against McCann, who is much smaller and nowhere near as technical as Wood, that’s a big problem. Carolina will walk forward and try to box, but I expect that Wood should still have too much for her.
Despite the fact she has lost four of her last five, none of them have been against average competition and Wood should still be far too good for Carolina. Expect a dominant decision win.
PICK – Joanne Wood via Decision
Jake Hadley (9-1) vs Malcolm Gordon (14-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An absolute banger in the men’s flyweight division up next. Hadley had been flying before suffering defeat in his official UFC debut against Allan Nascimento, but he bounced back with a submission win over Carlos Candelario back in November. Gordon was on a two-fight win streak before his UFC 280 fight with Muhammad Mokaev, where he was super competitive before being submitted by an armbar with 34 seconds remaining.
Hadley goes by the nickname “White Kong” because of his excellent grappling skills, but he’s also a more than capable boxer too. Gordon is a technical fighter who has good skills all-around, but nothing exceptional that really stands out. Gordon’s usual game plan sees him mix his striking with his wrestling and top control, so Hadley will have to be at his best defensively to ensure he doesn’t end up on his back.
I expect Hadley to use his boxing a lot more than usual and even mix in some of his own takedowns to essentially out Gordon Malcolm Gordon. He’ll have to be at his best to do it, but expect Hadley to get the nod on the cards in a competitive bout.
PICK – Jake Hadley via Decision
Christian Duncan (7-0) vs Dusko Todorovic (12-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An absolute banger in the middleweight division between two powerhouses. Duncan makes his UFC debut as an unbeaten fighter with six finishes from seven fights, while Todorovic has won two of his last three including a knockout win over Jordan Wright most recently back in October last year.
Duncan is an elite striker with a super unorthodox style and off-beat rhythm, but incredible power with his taekwondo background. Todorovic is a power striker with heavy hands, but he often leaves his chin up in the air and sometimes has to mix in his wrestling to avoid a war on the feet.
But his wrestling isn’t very good and while Duncan’s takedown defence hasn’t been the best so far in his career, he has enough on the feet to catch Todorovic clean at some point in the early rounds to claim a statement win.
PICK – Christian Duncan via Knockout, Round 2