UFC London is right around the corner, with fans clambering for tickets and hotel rooms that cost ten times more than the following week would have. Today we take a look at three crucial questions that will be answered come Saturday night.
If Tom Aspinall Wins, Can Anyone Stop Him?
Tom Aspinall has surprised everyone with just how good he is. While many rated him as a prospect, the ease with which he has dealt with his world-class opponents thus far has been staggering. In his five UFC appearances to date, no one has seen the final bell. Only former champion Andre Arlovski made it out of the first round.
He shares the main event spot with Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is a world-class wrestler out of Elevation Fight Team who holds the number 4 ranking in the Heavyweight division. His only losses come at the hands of Francis Ngannou, the current champion, and Derrick Lewis, the current knockout record holder. He has been a foil for many en route to a title shot, and many, including Aspinall, see this as his toughest challenge in the division.
The current assessment of Aspinall on the ground, though, is he is far more a threat than threatened. With two submissions already in the UFC, the grappling on paper favours Blaydes, but just how sure of that are we? If Aspinall gets past Blaydes, there will be no one ahead of him in the rankings that can match his grappling, despite Francis Ngannou’s best NCAA alumni impression against Cyril Gane. This fight could have a massive effect on the future of the heavyweight division.
UFC London: Another Paddy and Molly Double Act?
Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann have become embedded in UFC London fight week folklore. For anyone in attendance at the O2 Arena in March, it was clear to see (and hear) who the audience was most excited for.
“Meatball” shocked the crowd with one of the greatest knockouts the venue has ever seen. “The Baddy” decided to give us a few more heart-stopping moments for our money before ultimately submitting Vargas and sending us on our ways, satisfied that everything had gone as we knew it would all along.
This time, Molly McCann takes on Hannah Goldy, a 6-2 American who entered the UFC via the contender series route. Goldy most recently submitted Emily Whitmire last year, breaking a two-fight losing streak.
McCann debuted against Talia Santos, crazy, right?
In the last fight McCann had at the O2, everything changed. She suddenly had fans from every corner of the globe. Each end of the economic scale, from Wayne Rooney to a random old man I met in the queue for a sausage roll, had seen the clip. With so much fanfare and adulation, there won’t be many who can rival the noise that is made. Especially if McCann manages to knock out Goldy.
Other than perhaps a Paddy Pimblett win that is.
Pimblett showed his star-power, as well as reinforcing his mantra that “Scousers don’t get knocked out lad”, despite Vargas’s best efforts. He secured the rear-naked choke and his second consecutive first-round finish. Pimblett takes on Jordan Leavitt, an awkward grappler on a two-fight win streak. Both men are pretty well matched up, with Pimblett’s higher strike output rate being the main differential. This looks set to end in a finish, and everyone in the arena will be putting all their effort into making sure that is Paddy “The Baddy”.
Can Paul Craig Strike Again?
Scotland’s resident miracle man Paul Craig takes another step closer to that coveted title shot. He faces Swiss striker Volkan Oedzemir in a high stake light-heavyweight contest. Any other fighter on a four-fight finishing streak, taking on a fighter on a two-fight skid would surely be a favourite, yet Craig is not. Most recently beating Nikita Krylov by triangle choke, Craig was having a tough time of it before his ever-dangerous ground game claimed another soul.
Like a honey badger, Craig continues to surprise his foes with his dexterity and ingenuity. It at points, almost feels inevitable that “Bearjew” submits his opponents, it’s just a case of when. If he manages to beat Oedzemir, it may be time for the UFC brass to take notice.
Which fight are you most excited about?
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images