Last weekend’s UFC card was a banger, and it seems like this weekend’s card will pick up where things left off. This Saturday, UFC London will take place at the famous O2 Arena, headlined by a heavyweight clash. Tom Aspinall will look to continue his impressive run against a powerhouse in Curtis “Razor” Blaydes.
As expected, this London card is littered with UK fighters and hometown favorites. The Scouser duo in Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett both have fights scheduled to take place. Paul Craig will look to continue his win streak. Fighters like Marc Diakiese and Nathaniel Wood are also set to make appearances in front of a rowdy British crowd.
This card will be a delight for all MMA fans, and I can’t wait to see what goes down. Here are my UFC London fight predictions:
Main Event: Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall
The main event will be a matchup between two improving fighters around their late twenties/early thirties.
Curtis Blaydes has visually improved as a striker; not only with his technique but also with his confidence. Never has his boxing looked as sharp as it has recently. However, in this matchup, it might be the wrestling where he holds the biggest advantage over Aspinall. Once he ties up with his opponents, he will usually fling them around, manhandling them on the mat.
That being said, Aspinall is no slouch either. His boxing is amongst the best at heavyweight, and he usually mixes his targets well on the feet. His combinations are lethal. The timing on his takedowns is impeccable. He’s also a good submission grappler from top position. However, he might struggle to get his own grappling offense going against Blaydes, and the biggest question here seems to be whether or not his grappling has improved defensively. If not, Blaydes will pummel him with devastating ground and pound.
I still have questions as to how Aspinall responds if he gets put in serious trouble. So far in his UFC career, he has been a front-runner. We’ve seen Curtis Blaydes go on to win fights after getting hit hard by guys like Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Mark Hunt. Aspinall had some rough moments against Arlovski but was never close to being finished. Blaydes will take some lumps on the feet against the cleaner striker, but eventually, he’ll get his chance to close the distance, secure a takedown, and beat Aspinall up on the mat, upsetting the London crowd. Blaydes via TKO, Round 2.
Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Curtis
After a poor performance earlier this year, Jack Hermansson will look to get back on track against red-hot Chris Curtis. It took 34 fights for the UFC to welcome Curtis into the promotion, but since his entry, he has made the most of it. Three fights later, he finds himself in the UFC London co-main event slot. Curtis will be filling in on short notice after Darren Till suffered an injury during his fight camp. While Curtis is a powerful boxer who will attack the body as well as the head, he has a tendency of starting fights slowly. He was having trouble dealing with Brendan Allen and Phil Hawes before turning things around. Jack Hermansson is too dangerous of a grappler to start slow against, and I can see Hermansson getting a submission early before Curtis can get out of first gear. Hermansson via Submission, Round 1.
Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt
Paddy Pimblett will have the London crowd on his side when he fights “The Monkey King”, Jordan Leavitt. While Pimblett is not very sound defensively, he is dangerous, especially once the fight hits the ground. As a striker, he will throw caution to the wind and trade in the pocket. Leavitt is a strong grappler as well, so it will be interesting to see what happens once they tie up with each other. Ultimately, I think Pimblett’s ferocity will give him the nod here. Leavitt will hang in tough, and there will be holes for him to exploit defensively, but it won’t be enough here. Expect to see some interesting dance moves from whoever wins this fight on Saturday. Pimblett via Decision.
Nikita Krylov vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Nikita Krylov and Alexander Gustafsson are both in desperate need of a win on Saturday. It’s hard to tell exactly where Gus is at in his career right now. He has considered retirement and will be returning to 205 after a brief stint at heavyweight in 2020. He has not won a fight since 2017, and his recent performances have left a lot to be desired. Krylov is still the fighter he has always been; an offensive whirlwind who can find himself in some trouble on the mat sometimes. If Gus can turn back the clock on Saturday, his elusiveness and his boxing could give Krylov trouble. I just don’t know if he can tap into that old version himself. Expect Krylov to overwhelm him on the feet and eventually find a finish once the fight hits the floor. Krylov via Submission, Round 2.
Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy
Molly McCann will enter her fight against Hannah Goldy with momentum, as well as the London crowd on her side. Her last fight in March will certainly be a nomination for KO of the year, and a win here could place her in the Flyweight rankings. You can tell just by looking at Goldy that she is a physical specimen. However, she doesn’t seem to excel in one area of expertise. She can also be outworked by more offensive fighters. Goldy will probably spend a lot of time on the back foot, inviting McCann to pursue after her. Molly’s defense, like her Scouser friend Paddy Pimblett, is not the best and she may find herself taking a couple of licks. Regardless, her heavy hands and aggression should be enough to get the better of this matchup. McCann via Decision.
Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir
The Bearjew himself, Paul Craig, will put his four-fight winning streak on the line when he faces off against Volkan Oezdemir. You can never count Paul Craig out of a fight due to his dangerous guard. He showed that in his last fight against Nikita Krylov, and I expect Saturday to look like a similar fight. While luck hasn’t been on the side of Oezdemir lately, his hand speed and punching power will still give Craig problems for as long as the fight stays standing. Eventually, whether it be due to a knockdown from Oezdemir or a guard pull from Craig, the fight will hit the ground. For most light heavyweights, sitting in Paul Craig’s guard is a death wish. Expect him to win by submission after taking some hard blows from Oezdemir. Craig via Submission, Round 1.
Ludovit Klein will face off against Mason Jones in a contest between lightweight prospects. Klein is a specimen for the weight class. He’s well-built and has some effective kickboxing with vicious head kicks. He should be able to land some shots early, but Mason Jones could wear him down, given how tough he is and the pace he likes to push. Ultimately it will be his combinations and his pace that will get him a late stoppage against Klein. Jones via TKO, Round 3.
Marc Diakiese and Damir Hadzovic will clash in another lightweight showdown. Though he has not fully lived up to the hype, Diakiese has the tools to make this fight extremely difficult for Hadzovic. His ability to control range with his kicks should give Hadzovic a lot of trouble, and his takedowns will be there if Damir gets too close. Hadzovic’s punching power is undeniable if he gets in the pocket, but he’ll likely struggle to get the fight where he wants against the quicker, more physically gifted fighter. Diakiese usually performs well in front of his home crowd, and I don’t expect things to be any different at UFC London. Diakiese via Decision.
Coming off a long layoff, Nathaniel Wood is finally back for the first time since 2020. He will take on Charles Rosa in his home country. Rosa can be tricky off his back and loves to maintain fights at a kicking range. However, Wood appears to be the more dangerous fighter in every aspect. His grappling is potent when he gets on top, and Rosa has struggled against dominant top grapplers. Rosa also has problems defending takedowns as well. On the feet, Wood packs power in his hands, and Rosa’s kicks will not be hard enough to keep Wood away from him. Rosa is tough though, so Wood will probably win a dominant decision. Wood via Decision.
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Johnathan Pearce is a matchup between two talented grapplers. When tied up with his opponents, Makwan’s wrestling is a force to be reckoned with. He has a Jiu-Jitsu game to go with it, preferring to attack front headlock submissions. The problem for him is that he tends to gas out if he can’t get the early finish. Pearce can defend himself if Makwan gets him down early, scrambling his way out of bad positions. In addition to his grappling, Pearce is also a well-schooled kickboxer. I can see Pearce wearing Amirkhani down with his relentless pace. He might have to weather an early storm, but eventually, he will beat Makwan up, drag him to the ground and finish him off. Pearce via TKO, Round 3.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read through my UFC London fight picks. For more sports-related content, head over to Belly Up Sports. We have articles, op-eds, and podcasts available on our website. Disagree with my picks? Want to continue this discussion? You can find me on Twitter @RevKoka.