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UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall - Mar 19 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿


wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

The Octagon finally returns to London for the first time in 3 years! Who’s going? 

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Alexander Volkov vs Tom Aspinall

Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker

Paddy Pimblett vs Kazula Vargas

Gunnar Nelson vs Takashi Sato 

Molly McCann vs Luana Carolina

Jai Herbert vs Ilia Topuria

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Mike Grundy vs Makwan Amirkhani

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs Sergei Pavlovich

Nikita Krylov vs Paul Craig 

Jack Shore vs Timur Valiev

Cory McKenna vs Elise Reed

Cody Durden vs Muhammad Mokaev

 

Really like this card in its current form. Only a couple of weeks out now so hopefully most of this stays intact. That bout order isn’t official, gone off Marcel Dorff’s order for now but it probably won’t be far off that. Some quality stuff throughout. I honestly think I’m into every single fight there to some degree.

 

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Alexander Volkov vs Tom Aspinall headlines. Well it’s supposed to. Not even sure it’s gonna actually end up happening. There were reports the other day that the fight was in jeopardy because of the current situation going on with Russia, and Volkov’s visa being affected. But then the UFC put the poster out and stuff so they must be confident it’s going ahead. Not that a bastard MMA fight matters in the big picture. It’s just a temporary distraction from the horrid shit going on in the world at the moment. We’ll assume it’s happening for now though.

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Got to love the heavy bag there 😂 This is a big step up for Aspinall. He’s a guy everyone seems to like and he’s the UK’s first proper Heavyweight prospect in forever. Really, who was the last one? Are we going all the way back to Ian Freeman bashing Frank Mir about in 2002! We’ve had other Heavyweights since but I can’t remember one that people really believed could go that far or got especially excited about. He’s 11-2 in his MMA career with all 11 wins coming inside the distance. And even one of the losses was a DQ. He hasn’t been legitimately beaten since his fourth pro fight back in 2015. He’s now on a 7 fight winning streak, he’s won and finished all 4 of his UFC fights and got POTN bonuses for 3 of them. Last year he submitted Andrei Arlovski and got a quick TKO over Sergey Spivak. Not sure where his ceiling is but things are looking promising so far. He’s still only 28 years old as well, which pretty much makes him a baby at Heavyweight. He was briefly linked to a fight with Shamil Abdurakhimov on this card, which was a bit underwhelming and felt like a step backwards. But they switched things up and booked this fight. Much better.

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Like I said, this is a real test. Volkov’s a huge man at 6’7” and he has quite an experience advantage. This’ll be his 44th MMA fight. He’s gone 34-9 and he’s had his share of setbacks but he’s done pretty well and has racked up strong wins over the likes of Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Walt Harris, Marcin Tybura and Roy Nelson. Former Bellator champ, former M-1 champ. He’s a good fighter. The Overeem fight last year was probably the best performance of his career for me. Best he’s looked from the fights I’ve seen. He got outpointed by Ciryl Gane after that but I still think Gane has a really bright future. And Volkov bounced back with the Tybura win in his last fight. It’ll be interesting to see how Aspinall tackles this one. I don’t think we’ve seen him face someone who’s bigger than him yet and Volkov can be awkward. If he looks like he looked in the Reem fight then Aspinall could have his hands full here. Really not sure how it goes. I hope Aspinall wins. It’d be a cool moment for him to get that first signature win, in his first UFC main event, on home soil in the UK. But as much as I like him, I’m not quite as confident in him as many seem to be. If he beats a guy like Volkov the way he’s beat his last few opponents then I’ll have to start believing. Just hope it’s a good fight. The Heavyweights, more than any other weight class, are a complete lottery when it comes to fight quality. Feels like an age since London got a card so hopefully it delivers.

 

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Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker is a fantastic co-main event. I think I said at the time it was announced that I’d actually have gone with this as the headliner myself. I’m fine with Volkov vs Aspinall on top but I think this would’ve had a better chance of producing something really exciting over 5 rounds. And it feels like that little main event rub is what’s been missing for Allen. He’s a really solid fighter, 17-1 with wins over Sodiq Yusuff, Gilbert Melendez and Nik Lentz in his last 3 but he’s a guy that nobody really talks about. He’s like the forgotten man among the current crop of British fighters on the roster. I like him though. Good follow on Twitter as well if you’re on there. Loves his Tesco meal deals. It’s nice to see him getting an opportunity like this. Obviously, Hooker’s no joke. He’s mixed with some of the very best at 145 and 155 and, although he’s come up short against most of the top names he’s been in with, he’s done pretty well for himself. You look down his record and you’ll see wins over Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, knockouts over Gilbert Burns, Jim Miller and Ross Pearson. He had that absolute war with Poirier a couple of years ago as well. He comes to scrap and I’m hoping he brings that out of Allen here. If there’s been one criticism of Allen it’s that he tends to just coast in some fights and just does what he needs to do. There haven’t been those real statement performances. Hooker’s the kind of fighter that I think could force Allen to raise his game and bring the best out of him. He’s back at 145 here as well. Not sure how this plays out but I think Allen’s gonna need to kick it up a gear in this one. Love the matchup though.

 

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Paddy Pimblett vs Kazula Vargas. Here we go again. Paddy The Baddy back in action. Can’t stand the wanker. Never liked him when he was fighting on the UK scene and having the nerve to wear and besmirch the Sakuraba shorts. Since he signed with the UFC though, the visibility of his interviews and the shite he puts on social media has gone up and I’m seeing more of him than I ever wanted to. He’s not a bad fighter, 17-3 record, former Cage Warriors champion etc. But I’ve never been convinced he has that much success in the UFC. Him stepping into the UFC was talked about for a long time and he finally made the jump last September. He took on Luigi Vendramini and got the first round finish. Wasn’t all plain sailing though. He got cracked a few times and appeared rocked at one point, and it’s not like Vendramini is anything special. Doesn’t really bode well. Him ballooning up in weight between fights doesn’t exactly make me think he’s gonna go too far either.

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State of him. The worst thing about him is his personality though. Just comes off as a horrible little cretin whenever I’ve seen him interviewed or seen tweets and stuff. Some of the shit that was doing the rounds before his UFC debut made my already low opinion of him plummet even further. So I was hoping to see him matched with someone who might chin him here. I’d love to have seen him thrown in with Slava Claus or something. But no. We get Vargas who doesn’t seem like a step up at all from Vendramini, and may even be a step back. He’s 12-4 and coming off a points win but from my memory is bang average. Pimblett most likely gets another win here and we’ll have to tolerate another few months of him chatting shite and people going on like he’s a future champ and all that cobblers.

 

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Gunnar Nelson vs Takashi Sato. Well fuck me. They’ve found Gunnar! He’s been on a milk carton so long now I’d started to think he’d just quietly retired. We last saw him in 2019 dropping decisions against Leon Edwards and then Gilbert Burns in his last fight. Don’t know what’s been up with him since then. Nothing for over 2 years, not a peep. Then out of the blue it was announced early this year that he’d signed a new multi-fight deal and this fight was confirmed for London. It’ll be nice to see him back. Always liked him. He’s one of the only McGregor/Kavanagh affiliated guys who I still actually like. I read that his wife gave birth to their daughter just after the Burns fight so maybe he just wanted to take a break to spend time with his family. Hopefully the time away has done him good and he comes back refreshed. To be honest, I think the ship’s sailed on him going too far up the ladder at 170. He seemed to hit a brick wall at a certain level anyway and that was when he was younger and active. The top end of the division is probably better than it’s ever been now as well so he’s got his work cut out. Sato’s replacing Claudio Silva here. He’s 16-4 with 13 finishes, mostly knockouts. He’s also a Judo black-belt, although I don’t remember him using it much in his UFC fights. He’s been so-so from what I’ve seen of him. Entertaining enough to watch but you look at his record and 3 of his 4 losses came via submission. Sounds like the perfect return opponent for a grappler like Gunni to shine against but we’ll see how it plays out. If all that time away sees him coming in rusty and off a step, Sato certainly has the capability to clip him. On paper though, this looks like a more straight forward fight for Nelson than crafty BJJ black-belt Silva would’ve been.

 

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Molly McCann vs Luana Carolina. Not gonna pretend I’m giddy about it or anything but I do usually enjoy watching McCann fight. Don’t even know why really because she’s not exactly a power puncher, not a standout grappler, not particularly athletic etc. But she’s a scrappy tough little sod and you can see she’s giving it 100% in there. She’s 11-4 now coming off a points win over Ji Yeon Kim in September. Don’t remember much of Carolina but she’s 8-2 and took decisions off Poliana Botelho and Lupita Godinez in her last couple. Just filler really but should be very watchable filler.

 

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Jai Herbert vs Ilia Topuria should be bags of fun. Can’t wait for this one. Serious show stealer feel to it. Herbert’s pretty much a local lad to me, he’s from Wolverhampton. 11-3 record with 10 finishes, mostly knockouts and he was the Cage Warriors Lightweight champ. He got off to a really rough start in the UFC. He got decked by Francisco Trinaldo in his debut, the fight which sparked the Dan Hardy vs Herb Dean confrontation that ultimately led to Hardy’s exit from the company. From there Herbert got subbed by Renato Moicano in his next fight. To say his last fight was ‘must win’ would be an understatement but he got it done, battering Khama Worthy in the first round. He’s up against it again here though.

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I’ve been hyping up Topuria for a while now. He’s Georgian, 25 years old and undefeated at 11-0 with 10 finishes. He really looks the business so far. Beat Youssef Zalal on short notice in his Octagon debut and put on a bit of a grappling masterclass. Then he crushed Damon Jackson in a round with his striking in his next fight. Then in July, he was thrown on the Poirier vs McGregor 3 undercard against Ryan Hall. A fight nobody in the division was in a rush to sign for, Hall was being talked about as one of the most avoided fighters on the roster. Topuria wrecked him inside a round. Not sure how far he can go but he’s passed every test so far. He was supposed to fight Movsar Evloev recently but Evloev pulled out. Then the substitute fight with Charles Jourdain fell apart. Hopefully this one stays intact. Topuria’s moving up to 155 for this as well which is an interesting little twist.

 

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Mike Grundy vs Makwan Amirkhani is a solid matchup between two good fighters who are kind of floundering at the moment. Grundy’s a standout wrestler from Wigan, took a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. He’s 12-3 in MMA but he’s ran into Movsar Evloev and Lando Vannata in his last 2 fights and picked up a couple of losses. As for Amirkhani, he couldn’t have asked for a better UFC debut back in 2015. He took out Andy Ogle in just 8 seconds with a flying knee and then cut a promo after. He looked like a future star that night but it was fleeting. Injuries played their part in derailing him and he’s now coming off 3 straight losses and suffered a bad KO from Lerone Murphy in his last fight in October. He was down for ages, it was scary. Fuck knows what happens here. Guess it’s just gonna be a case of who’s got more left.

 

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Shamil Abdurakhimov vs Sergei Pavlovich. Not really grabbing me this but maybe it’ll be a pleasant surprise. Abdurakhimov is 40 years old with a record of 20-6. He actually has some notable names on his record. Wins over Andrei Arlovski, Marcin Tybura, Walt Harris, as well as pre-UFC wins over Sokoudjou and Jeff Monson. The fact he’s beat all these guys and I still barely remember him says it all really though. Just very forgettable. Pavlovich might be a bit of a darkhorse, to be fair. He’s 14-1 with 11 knockouts and the only loss came in his UFC debut against Alistair Overeem. No shame there. He’s scored back-to-back quick KOs against Marcelo Golm and Maurice Greene since. OK not amazing wins but he made short work of them and he’s a bit of an unknown quantity really. Might go on to get exposed and do fuck all, or maybe he’s gonna do some damage. That’s the good thing about a fight like this. As unremarkable as Abdurakhimov is, he’s tough and experienced and should at least be a decent barometer to gauge what Pavlovich is about.

 

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Nikita Krylov vs Paul Craig. Decent enough fight. Krylov’s been so hit and miss though. He’s been on a win one/lose one run for a bit now. Managed to beat Johnny Walker and OSP but when he’s stepped in with the likes of Blachowicz, Teixeira and Ankalaev he’s came up short. Not a bad fighter by any stretch but I think he’s pretty much found his level at this point. I think Craig’s got enough about him to come out on top here. He’s on an alright little run. Subbed Antigulov, got a TKO over Shogun and nearly ripped Jamahal Hill’s arm off in his last fight. Hill’s looking like a real problem and one of the better guys on the rise at 205 now so that win is ageing nicely for Craig as time goes on. You never know with Krylov, he blows hot and cold and if his recent form is anything to go by, he’s coming off a loss so he’s due a win this time. I think it’s Craig’s to lose though.

 

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Jack Shore vs Timur Valiev. Should be good. It’s been slow progress for Shore but the main thing is he’s kept winning. He’s still undefeated, 15-0 now, he just needs a break against an established and recognised name. He’s kept getting these unknowns and Octagon newcomers so far and it’s really stalled his climb. Original opponents dropping out hasn’t helped. He was recently linked to fights with two Nurmagomedovs - Umar and Said - but unfortunately both fell through. I’d love to have seen either of them, the Umar fight especially. Hopefully that’s one they revisit in the near future. This fight with Valiev still isn’t ideal either as Valiev isn’t that well known. I’m into it though just based on Valiev’s performance against Raoni Barcelos last time out. That’s my only real reference point for Valiev but he showed a lot of toughness in that one and came through with the win. Hopefully Shore gets an impressive win here and starts moving up the card a bit. Fucker can’t get off the prelims so far.

 

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Cory McKenna vs Elise Reed. Nothing fight but I’ll give it a look. Quite like McKenna. Just based off her UFC debut back in 2020, she had a fun fight with Kay Hansen, got the win, and came across really likeable on fight week. Like a Welsh version of Joanne Calderwood. She’s only 22 and has a 6-1 record but she’s coming off a bad leg injury so we’ll see how she does here. All I’ve seen of Reed is her UFC fight against Sijara Eubanks. And she got fucking battered. Eye got all fucked up and everything. She’s 4-1. Hoping McKenna can come back with a win here and pick up where she left off before the injury.

 

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Cody Durden vs Muhammad Mokaev is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** here. Might seem a strange choice but Mokaev’s debut is one I’ve been looking forward to for months now and the fact Durden seems a right prick has me invested even more. To get the Durden bit out the way, he’s 12-3-1 and had really done nothing of note before his points win over Aori Qileng in November. He then said something like ‘I had to send him back to China where he came from’ in his post-fight interview. Smashing. A load of his tweets then got dug up of him repeatedly throwing the N word about. Mokaev got signed around that time and it wasn’t long before his debut was booked.

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They’ve gone back and forth a bit online and Durden just seems like a total mouth breather. The ‘No Frills’ brand Colby Covington who goes for controversy and being ‘edgy’ because he’s got no actual real personality. Hope Mokaev schools the twat. I wanna see him do well anyway. He’s got quite a story. From Dagestan originally but came to the UK as a refugee as a kid. He’s only 21 years old (I think he’s now the youngest fighter on the roster) and 6-0-0-1NC, as well as a 22 fight win streak on the amateur circuit and competes in various wrestling and grappling competitions. Only seen clips so far but he looks promising. Been following him on Twitter for a good while now so was chuffed to see him get this break.

 

FACKIN AVE IT. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Such a solid card and a great write up. I am gutted that I wasn't able to get tickets, they sold out within seconds as I was online trying to get one.

Did anyone actually manage to get a ticket?

It's crazy how far down the card Paul Craig is. Two guys he has recently beat either headlined a show recently (Hill) or is about to headline one soon (Magomed). He can't even make the co main spot on a fight night show in the UK. I don't even disagree with the placement either to be honest. 

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Craig vs Krylov might end up further up the card yet, that’s not the final bout order. But yeah, it can’t be any higher than third from the top as Allen vs Hooker is on the poster as co-main.

Didn’t even try getting tickets in the end. I knew it was gonna be a ballache. My sister lives in London and she tried to get some and said the same as you. No luck. 

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15 hours ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

It's crazy how far down the card Paul Craig is. Two guys he has recently beat either headlined a show recently (Hill) or is about to headline one soon (Magomed). He can't even make the co main spot on a fight night show in the UK. I don't even disagree with the placement either to be honest. 

Not to mention that he's been the first loss for at least four fighters. I knew he'd handed Ankalaev and Hill their first losses, but it seems Henrique da Silva (his debut UFC opponent) and Kennedy Nzechukwu were undefeated before they ran into him.

They should call him "The Deflowerer" or something.

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10 minutes ago, David said:

Yet, we're seeing Hill touted as a title contender while Craig, who broke off his arm and handed it back to him, is still being largely ignored.

To be fair to FlairHill, he's come back from those losses in very convincing fashion, plus he's an exciting young(ish) fighter.

But you're right. It's really quite shit that Craig's been ignored like he has. He's beaten four undefeated guys, and had a nice mini-feud with Shogun as well. Sure, beating Shogun doesn't mean as much as it used to, but his name still has some of that glamour, and he's still dangerous enough as a gatekeeper.

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1 hour ago, Carbomb said:

To be fair to FlairHill, he's come back from those losses in very convincing fashion, plus he's an exciting young(ish) fighter.

But you're right. It's really quite shit that Craig's been ignored like he has. He's beaten four undefeated guys, and had a nice mini-feud with Shogun as well. Sure, beating Shogun doesn't mean as much as it used to, but his name still has some of that glamour, and he's still dangerous enough as a gatekeeper.

Craig is currently enjoying a 4-0-1 record in his last five, and subbed Hill in under two minutes while claiming a performance of the night award for the win.

Hill is on a 3-1-1 run in his last five.

Craig is below Hill in the rankings. Go figure.

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1 hour ago, Carbomb said:

Sure, beating Shogun doesn't mean as much as it used to, but his name still has some of that glamour

Love Shogun but there was nothing glamorous about his behaviour in the second Craig fight. Think he was looking for his ACL up there. 

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1 hour ago, David said:

Craig is currently enjoying a 4-0-1 record in his last five, and subbed Hill in under two minutes while claiming a performance of the night award for the win.

Hill is on a 3-1-1 run in his last five.

Craig is below Hill in the rankings. Go figure.

hasn't Craig spoken openly about retiring in a couple of fights time? maybe that has something to do with it? maybe its a case of giving him fights to run down his contract.

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1 minute ago, Egg Shen said:

hasn't Craig spoken openly about retiring in a couple of fights time? maybe that has something to do with it? maybe its a case of giving him fights to run down his contract.

Yeah, but you take the guy out of the rankings when he retires, you don't say "ah well, just keep him in 11th since he's said he's calling it a day soon."

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Seems a shame to retire so early, before he's had a title shot at least. And whilst he's not got the best record, he seems like he could be dangerous to anyone on any given night.

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35 minutes ago, David said:

Yeah, but you take the guy out of the rankings when he retires, you don't say "ah well, just keep him in 11th since he's said he's calling it a day soon."

true, im just speculating as to why people are leapfrogging him

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Of all the fights to get scrapped, that’s the one I’m least surprised about. Sholinian is Ukrainian/Armenian so it was always doubtful he’d actually fight on this card as I said in the opening post. I read that the current plan is for Wood to stay on the card, hopefully they find him an opponent sharpish.

Article with an interview with Sholinian on the current goings on in Ukraine.

https://armenianweekly.com/2022/03/02/ukrainian-armenian-ufc-fighter-liudvik-sholinian-shares-perilous-situation-in-kyiv/

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