Under-the-radar storylines for UFC London
After three years, the UFC is back in London!!! Oh, and they created a great fight card. No. 11 ranked heavyweight Tom Aspinall competes in his first main event against No. 6 Alexander Volkov. Dan Hooker returns to featherweight for the first time since 2017 and takes on No. 7 Arnold Allen in the co-main event. However, if you look past the main and co-main events, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
Return of Gunnar Nelson
Gunnar Nelson will be returning from a 29-month layoff when he steps into the octagon this weekend. ‘Gunni’ has been out since his loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Cannonier. In his time away, Nelson has been in dad mode as he had another child, as well as healing injuries. He has already had to deal with adversity in his return to action as his original opponent Cláudio Silva pulled out. Silva was replaced with a returning Takashi Sato.
I think the MMA world is a better place with ‘Gunni’ fighting. Don’t you agree?
Banger of the week
We got a good one for UFC London. This week’s banger of the week is Ilia Topuria vs. Jai Herbert. Topuria is moving up to lightweight for the first time in his short UFC career. Actually, it is the first time the Georgian has ever competed at 155. Unfortunately, Topuria had a bad weight cut in January that caused him to be pulled from UFC 270.
Nevertheless, Topuria has been knocking people in three out of his last four. Next, he faces Jai Herbert, who has just been thrown to the wolves in his UFC career. I mean, what the hell, UFC? “The Black Country Banger” picked up his first UFC win in his last outing by finishing Khama Worthy. The knockout artist has a big prospect in front of him, but he is up for the test.
The best fight on the card is on the prelims
It is insane that Jack Shore vs. Timur Valiev isn’t on the main card. Shore and Valiev are two of the best prospects in the bantamweight division, and they are on the prelims. Ok, I’m done. Shore is undefeated and is who is criminally underpromoted. I’ve written about him several times during this series, so you should know. He is 4-0 in the UFC, and in his last fight, he beat a tough Liudvik Sholinian with literally one arm. The Welsh fighter tore his shoulder before the fight but refused to pull out. Valiev, who is very credentialed and is dangerous everywhere, defeated Raoni Barcelos in his last time out, stopping that hype train. The winner of this matchup will be fighting a top 15 ranked opponent in their next fight. The fight is fantastic and is a must-watch.
Another returning fighter is Sergei Pavlovich. The Russian fighter has been out of action since UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Askren back in October 2019. Pavlovich has been plagued with injuries and visa issues which has caused him to pull out of several fights. He was supposed to fight Aspinall last September and former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane in 2020. Pavlovich is riding a two-fight win streak, finishing Maurice Green and Marcelo Golm. He faces Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Welcome to the UFC, Muhammad Mokaev
21-year-old flyweight phenom Muhammad Mokaev makes his anticipated UFC debut this weekend. While he is only 5-0 as a professional, he had a 23-0 amateur record that included back-to-back bantamweight titles at the IMMAF World Championships in 2018 and 2019. The former Brave CF fighter has big aspirations, including wanting to break Jon Jones’ record as the youngest UFC champion. It is do-able, but he must get through Cody Durden first, who is looking to derail his hopes and dreams.
- Paddy Pimblett’s second UFC fight
- Elise Reed is back at 115
- Cory McKenna’s return
- Paul Craig on the prelims???
- Must win for Makwan Amirkhani
MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.