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 and after starting with the early prelims here, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Lerone Murphy (11-0-1) vs Gabriel Santos (10-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A real banger in the featherweight division in a short-notice fight up next. Murphy is undefeated in the UFC and has won his last three in a row, KO’ing Ricardo Ramos and Makwan Amirkhani with a decision win over Douglas Silva de Andrade in the middle. Santos is an undefeated fighter with seven finishes from his ten fights and is the current LFA featherweight champion.
Murphy is an all-round demon when it comes to the fight game with terrific wrestling and super powerful striking too. In fact, he seems to be better everywhere than Santos, but the Brazilian has got plenty of pressure and heart to keep going and the confidence of having never been beaten before. The one weeks’ notice is a big issue though.
Murphy hasn’t fought for almost 18 months after he was hit by a car while cycling, and if that health scare took a lot out of him then Santos has a chance. But if this is the same Murphy we’ve all come to know in recent years, he should have enough to get a stoppage win.
PICK – Lerone Murphy via Knockout, Round 2
Muhammad Mokaev (9-0) vs Jafel Filho (14-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The hottest prospect in the flyweight division is back and takes on a Contender Series graduate in this one. Mokaev is 3-0 in the UFC after submitting Cody Durden and Malcolm Gordon while dominating Charles Johnson to a decision win too. Filho makes his UFC debut on a five-fight finishing streak, including a knockout win over Roybert Echeverria back in September.
Mokaev is one of the very best grapplers we have from the UK, with unbelievable wrestling skills to go with dangerous jiu-jitsu skills and some decent striking too. Filho is a very good submission artist with some decent power too, but he’s a level or two below where Mokaev is right now to put it simply.
Filho has the ability to catch Mokaev with a sneaky submission, but “The Punisher” is very good at staying safe and controlling his opponents. Expect that for long spells before he gets more aggressive late on and lands his own submission win to make a statement again.
PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Submission, Round 3
Sam Patterson (10-1-1) vs Yanal Ashmoz (6-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very interesting lightweight scrap up next between two guys making their UFC debuts. Patterson shone on the Contender Series with a solid submission win last time out, while Ashmoz is undefeated and makes the move over from the PFL for his first fight in exactly one year.
Patterson is a fighter who relies a lot on his cardio to get him through tough moments, with some excellent submission skills and lengthy striking technique because of his size. Ashmoz is a grinder who has a bit of everything, but there are a few levels between these fighters and the way they can execute a game plan.
The likelihood here is that Ashmoz is competitive early on before Patterson starts to piece him up on the feet, then shoots for a takedown too eagerly and leaves his neck exposed for Patterson to secure one of his trademark guillotine wins.
PICK – Sam Patterson via Submission, Round 2
Chris Duncan (9-1) vs Omar Morales (11-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight up next with yet another hometown fighter in the red corner. Duncan has won his last two in a row including a first-round KO win on the Contender Series last time out back in August, while Morales has lost three of his last four to Giga Chikadze, Jonathan Pearce and Uros Medic most recently.
Duncan is a striker with great power, but a real lack of defensive nous and a greater lack of speed leaves him with plenty to be desired. Morales steps into this fight on one month’s notice, and is an aggressive kickboxer with good power and technique too. He doesn’t have the grappling to be able to really make Duncan work, but this is an interesting fight.
On paper Duncan has the tools to win this, but Morales also has the ability to really outshine him and take a wide decision. I can’t see either man getting finished, and with a close fight expected I think Duncan will be able to do just enough to claim the win on the cards with his range, aggression and volume.
PICK – Chris Duncan via Decision
Jack Shore (16-1) vs Makwan Amirkhani (17-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun fight to close out the prelims section of the card as Jack Shore makes his featherweight debut in this one. Shore lost his undefeated record to Ricky Simon most recently and opted to move up to continue his career, while Amirkhani has lost four of his last five including a TKO loss to Jonathan Pearce at UFC London in July last year in his last fight.
Shore is one of the most complete fighters to come out of the UK, with excellent wrestling and submission skills to go with powerful and technical striking. Amirkhani is very much a grappler with great submission skills, but his striking isn’t horrendous and he’s capable of mixing it in to secure takedowns. This is a good test for Shore moving up in weight, but he should have no problems here realistically.
He’s not out-sized despite the division change, he’s a fantastic grappler who is capable of more than holding his own on the mat and he’s by far the better striker. Amirkhani is notorious for having poor cardio too, so expect Shore to drag him into deep waters before getting a ground and pound finish somewhere in the middle round.
PICK – Jack Shore via Knockout, Round 2