For the second week in a row, the main event of the UFC’s card ended with an injury in the first round. This week, UFC London didn’t have a fantastic undercard to gird up the disappointing end to the event. Sure, Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett both delivered as expected, but there were also eight decisions out of the first nine contests and McCann and Pimblett were the only ones out of the hyped hometown heroes who delivered. That’s not a rip on Tom Aspinall, whose knee gave out 15 seconds into the main event. It’s a fact. And while Curtis Blaydes is happy to get a win, I can assure everyone this isn’t how he wanted to pick it up as he gains nothing other than a bit of padding on his record. I suppose he gets his win bonus too, but that’s neither here nor there. Though the event wasn’t an unmitigated disaster, it didn’t come anywhere near the event that was produced in the same arena in March. Regardless, there were plenty of narratives produced from the event that won’t get a lot of attention. We’ll touch on those with my Unofficial Awards.
For a different perspective, click here. For an audio recap of the event, click here.
Biggest Jump in Stock: This is a hard spot to figure. Pimblett and McCann had the most impactful wins, but they were also given opponents that were designed to provide that outcome. While it wasn’t his fault, Blaydes’ win over Aspinall does nothing for him. There are others here that deserve consideration, but I’ll go with Nikita Krylov. Sure, a win over Alexander Gustafsson doesn’t mean what it used to — Gus hasn’t won a fight in over five years – but the manner in which Krylov bowled over him has to come into play. Plus, Gus didn’t just fold right up; Krylov had to work his ass off to put him away. Throw in that many were down on Krylov given he was coming off two consecutive losses and his outlook is far more rosier coming out of the event than it was going in.
Biggest Fall in Stock: I know a lot of people are going to vehemently disagree with me, but Aspinall is probably taking the biggest hit. It has less to do with him losing and more to do with the uncertainty of how severe his injury is and how well he’ll recover from it. Given Aspinall’s reaction when his leg came back from the kick, it looks like it was pretty bad. I get the feeling it will be more than a year before we see Aspinall back in action. We’ll get more information in the coming days, but the uncertainty is going to have most people anticipating the worst at this stage.
Best Newcomer: With only one newcomer on the card – which I seem to be saying a lot as of late – there’s only one choice. If there was nothing Charles Johnson did to show he’s a keeper, I would have ignored this. However, while Johnson lost all three rounds to Muhammad Mokaev, he made the hyped prospect work his ass off to get the win. I don’t see Johnson becoming a future contender, but he looks like he can become a reasonable gatekeeper for several years to come. That’s not a bad fate by any means.
Saved Their Job(s): No one ever became a fan of Jai Herbert for the performance he turned in against Kyle Nelson, but at least it gave him the him he so desperately needed. To be fair to Herbert, he had faced a murderer’s row of opponents given his record. Perhaps more problematic was Herbert was coming off a life-changing KO loss. Herbert was noticeably reluctant to engage, essentially giving away the first round as a result. Nevertheless, he woke up enough to secure the last two rounds and secure the nod of the judges.
There seems to be a lot of Victoria Leonardo haters out there. Perhaps they’re happy Leonardo turned in a boring win as they not only get to continue to bag on her, they have further reason to do so with her contest being one of the least entertaining of the event. That said, Leonardo played to her strengths and did what she needed to do to secure the win over Mandy Bohm. Critics can hate on her for it, but they can’t blame her for doing what she needed to do to keep her job.
Start Typing a Resume: The heart of Charles Rosa can never be questioned. Neither can his toughness. But the man known as Boston Strong has largely been a punching bag since coming back from some serious injuries in 2019. Rosa has managed to stay on the roster as long as he has thanks to his grit, but I can only watch a guy get brutalized so many times before I don’t want to see them fighting any more. Even worse, it’s not like Rosa has been fighting guys near the official rankings. Personally, I have no desire to see Rosa fight any more after the latest beatdown at the hands of Nathaniel Wood.
I was among those surprised to find out Nelson was still on the roster given he hadn’t been seen for a long time. He made what I considered to be a wise move by moving up to lightweight. He also had an intelligent strategy, taking out the front leg of Herbert with low kicks. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough and Nelson fell to 1-4 in the UFC. No disrespect intended, but he isn’t making his way back.
There wouldn’t be an ounce of surprise if the UFC brings Bohm back given the lack of German representation on the roster – you haven’t been paying attention if you don’t think that doesn’t play a part in who does and doesn’t stay on the roster – but she would benefit from more seasoning. I get that she’s already 32, but she was late coming into the sport and hasn’t taken as much damage as many women her age in the sport. It’s a risk as Bellator could gobble her up, but I don’t believe Bohm is a superstar in the making. For her own benefit, I’d let her go.
I’ll give Claudio Silva credit for putting up a better fight than I anticipated he would, but the final result was what most expected: Silva gassing hard after a good start and taking the L. Given Silva’s fights tend to be on the lower end of the excitement scale, I was shocked when the 39-year-old was given another fight after two consecutive losses. Now that he’s at three, I’ll be absolutely astounded if he gets the chance to snap the losing streak in the confines of the Octagon. Silva never came close to being a star, but he didn’t have a bad UFC run.
Best Confirmation: It’s official: L’udovit Klein never should have been fighting at featherweight. His record at 145 in the UFC: 0-2. His record fighting at a higher weight: 3-0. This win over Mason Jones is the most impressive as he appeared to fight the fight Jones wanted and was able to take a decision over Jones in front of his countrymen. Not an easy place to take the W. There are things Klein will have to iron out as he accepts a higher level of competition, but he’s already shown the ability to do that. Klein is going to be a force at 155.
Biggest WOW Moment: A strong case could be made for McCann successfully landing a spinning back elbow – again – but that wasn’t the shot that dropped Hannah Goldy, though it was in the finishing sequence. However, I’m looking at Klein’s leaping kick to the head of Jones. I can’t recall seeing someone land a kick like that in the midst of a fight. Sure, I’ve seen something like that in the movies plenty of times, but we’re talking about reality here. Thus, even though Jones barely seemed to register the kick landing, I’m going with the kick due to the originality of the move.
Biggest Hit to Reputation: This isn’t the same thing as a drop in stock. That has more to do with fighting ability. This has to do with how someone is perceived outside the cage. Chris Curtis suffered a double whammy. Earlier this week, footage emerged of him beating on a guy from off the street in a sparring session. When the guy claimed he could have KO’d Curtis, Curtis had to be restrained by Sean Strickland of all people. Most people were willing to give him a pass for that. It’s a bit harder to do so after flipping off Jack Hermansson several times and for a sustained amount of time as he left the cage. It’s going to be hard to sell Curtis as a nice guy after those incidents.
Cure for Narcolepsy: There were several contenders for this spot. I don’t want to be too harsh as the winners in each of the contests did what they did in order to generate the clearest path to victory, but it does do damage to their image in the eyes of fans. Thus, while Leonardo and Hermansson might deserve some consideration, I’ll go with Marc Diakiese. The longtime member of the roster put on a similar rinse and repeat performance of takedowns in his previous contest, creating a trend. If this is a trend that continues, perhaps he can be renamed the Sandman as opposed to the Bonecrusher. Unfortunately, it won’t be because he’s putting his opponents to sleep….
Oddest Stat of the Night: I understand a large part of the viewing audience is on the casual end. They don’t dig into who all the fighters are. Thus, they probably wouldn’t find this factoid to be as surprising as those of us who dig into every fight and every fighter on the card. This was the first time Krylov was awarded a Performance bonus. Given his reckless nature, Krylov didn’t go the distance in any of his UFC fights until his 12th fight in the organization. Given he won his fair share of fights in that time – obviously finishes – you’d think at least one of them would have been worth an extra $50K. Instead, it took the native of Ukraine 16 fights into his UFC career until he picked himself up a bonus.
Best Duo: At this point, it would be foolish to see Pimblett and McCann as anything other than a packaged deal. Their friendship clearly goes beyond training together. I would say it is safe to say they feed off each other too. While McCann was beloved enough by those who closely follow the sport, her 3-3 record wasn’t anything special, nor had she picked up a bonus prior to Pimblett touching down in the organization. Since Pimblett joined the organization, they’ve been on every card together, both of them taking home a Performance bonus in the process. It would take a lot of research on my part to figure out if there are two other fighters who have both secured bonuses in three events – let alone three consecutive appearances – but the guess here is these two are the first to have done so.
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