UFC London goes down on Saturday and is headlined by heavyweights Tom Aspinall and Marcin Tybura. The popular Brit is returning to action here for the first time since blowing his knee out against Curtis Blaydes in the headliner of a past UFC London card. He, and the fans, will be hoping for a much different result this time around.
The remainder of UFC London’s card is decent with lots of established British talent taking on foreign challengers. There’s Molly McCann meeting Julija Stoliarenko, Nathanial Wood facing Andre Fili, and Paul Craig tangling with Andre Muniz.
As always, we at BE have poured over the match-ups and risked ridicule by making our public picks for the event.
Everyone, but Chris and his lucky-ish coin, think Aspinall has too much in his locker for the aging Tybura. And we mostly think McCann is going to get the crowd roaring with a win over Stoliarenko.
You can see the rest of our picks below.
UFC London: Aspinall vs. Tybura staff picks
Tom Aspinall vs. Marcin Tybura
Anton Tabuena: If Aspinall’s athleticism and movement still looks close to his past form, stylistically he really should take this. He also just turned 30 and has way more upside. Tom Aspinall by TKO.
Bissell: Aspinall recently labelled himself ‘The Lionel Messi of MMA’, which made me a chuckle a little. He wasn’t suggesting he has the same level of fame or accomplishments as Messi, but rather his fight IQ was on par with Messi’s cleverness on the pitch (where he is a genius at picking passes, runs and placing shots). I think Aspinall is not bad in that department, but no savant.
What he absolutely does have going for him is size, athleticism and youth. I don’t think Marcin Tybura has much to counter that at this stage of his career. I don’t think Aspinall will stop the Polish veteran, partly due to his injury lay-off, but I think he will dominate a long and likely quite boring fight to cap off UFC London. Tom Aspinall by unanimous decision.
Dayne: If there weren’t any concerns about Aspinall’s knee, this would be one of the easiest calls for the entirety of the year. Aspinall was rocketing up the heavyweight rankings, appearing destined to be the next big thing. He could still very well be the next big thing, but we have no idea how well the knee is recovered. Given this is the first fight back from injury, the knee isn’t the only concern; cage rust is as well. Aware of all this and still wanting Aspinall to be the next British champion, it would appear natural the UFC is setting him up for a win here at UFC London.
While that does appear to be the case, Tybura has been set up to be a stepping stone before only to upend the apple cart; Walt Harris and Alexandr Romanov being the most recent cases. He came this close to doing the same thing to Derrick Lewis a number of years back. Despite that, Tybura does appear to have a hard ceiling, a ceiling which Aspinall exceeds. Aspinall would be well served to get some rounds in and test out the knee. I anticipate he’ll try to do that. Tom Aspinall via TKO of RD3
Chris: Oof, this is a rough pick. Normally I’d say Aspinall but the coin has other plans. I guess that knee isn’t all the way ready.
Zane: One of the most consistent big problems for Tybura across his UFC career has been fighters that are more athletic than he is. Even in bouts where he’s rallied back to get the win, those fights often involve him getting absolutely shellacked for a whole round before making a comeback. I don’t think Aspinall will give him the chance. Tom Aspinall via TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Aspinall: Ben, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Anton, Zane,, Bissell
Staff picking Tybura: Chris
Molly McCann vs. Julija Stoliarenko
Dayne: If I knew Stoliarenko would be able to not just make the flyweight limit, but do so in a healthy manner, I’d be all over picking her for the upset at UFC London. McCann’s ground game is questionable at best and Stoliarenko is one of the better armbar specialists at bantamweight or flyweight. Unfortunately, I don’t have confidence Stoliarenko can make 126 without being compromised. It was just over two years ago Stoliarenko passed out trying to get to the bantamweight limit. Yeah… McCann is going to do whatever she wants. Molly McCann via TKO of RD2
Bissell: McCann is going to have the crowd behind her at UFC London and she seems to get a real and tangible lift from that experience. I think that might spur her one to make mistakes though and fight too open than she should. I can see her going for a sloppy takedown (or not avoiding one thrown at her) and ending up in a very bad place. If they go to the ground, Stoliarenko is taking one of those arms home. Julija Stoliarenko via submission.
Chris: After a brief flirtation with fame and free travel, Molly McCann was brought back to earth by Erin Blanchfield and the coin says the psychological damage is worse than the kimura Blancfhield used to submit ‘Meatball’
Zane: If Molly doesn’t get insta-subbed, she should have the power and the stamina to get the win at UFC London. Molly McCann via TKO, round 2
Staff picking McCann: Ben, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Anton, Zane
Staff picking Stoliarenko: Chris, Bissell
Nathaniel Wood vs Andre Fili
Dayne: This is one of the hardest contests on to pick at UFC London. Both are well-rounded. Wood is the more consistent of the two while Fili is the more dynamic of the two. However, while Wood’s attack is generally more steady, he hasn’t faced anyone quite as large as Fili and Fili isn’t easy to outwork. I’ll lean towards Wood as I expect the contest to go to a decision and Wood will have the support of the crowd to sway the judges in what I anticipate to be a close fight. Nathaniel Wood via decision
Bissell: Andre Fili suddenly became a grizzled vet and could very well play spoiler here for Wood and his hometown fans at UFC London. Fili is a tricky customer for most in the division and will probably win the lion’s share of grappling exchanges that happen in this fight. But I think Wood has enough about him to survive those and not let those little victories for Fili outweigh his supremacy on the feet. Nathanial Wood via decision.
Chris: Andre Fili is going to avenge my low-key action fighter, Charles Jourdain’s loss to Wood. The coin has spoken!
Zane: Could be a very tough fight for Wood, Fili is more consistent and more well rounded than Jourdain, while entirely capable of landing the same kinds of high flying punch-kick combos that gave Wood trouble in that bout. It’s just that Fili’s never really had the level of defensive responsibility that has me seeing him win the bulk of exchanges if nobody gets KOd. Nathaniel Wood via decision.
Staff picking Wood: Ben, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Anton, Zane, Bissell
Staff picking Fili: Chris
Andre Muniz vs. Paul Craig
Dayne: The last light heavyweight I can think of who had a number next to their name for a lengthy time before attempting to drop down to 185 in their mid-30’s is Misha Cirkunov. That went horribly for the Canadian. I don’t think it’s going to go much better for Craig here at UFC London. Craig wasn’t bulky at 205, but there didn’t appear to be any room for him to add any mass to his lanky frame.
I’m not sure he’ll be able to take the additional 20 pounds off without seriously compromising himself. Plus, Muniz is one of the better pure grapplers on the roster; not just the division. Craig isn’t likely to catch him by surprise the way he has some of his previous opponents. If Craig’s drop doesn’t go well, here’s hoping it’s a short excursion. Andre Muniz via decision
Chris: Did they call in Joe Silva as guest matchmaker to make this fight? it’s got his trollesque sense of humor written all over it. The trick is that Craig needs someone to beat him up so he can submit them, but Muniz wants to submit Craig, so Craig won’t have his favorite setup of eating shots on the ground and lulling his opponent into a false sense of dominance.
Bissell: Despite dropping down in weight, Craig is giving up a few inches in reach to Muniz at UFC London. He will still have his bag of tricks, but I think Muniz will be able to avoid them as well as Johnny Walker could and rack up plenty of significant strikes while he does. I think the strikes will add up and Craig will fade towards the end of the fight. Andre Muniz via TKO.
Zane: I don’t know that dropping down will solve Craig’s problems. And I don’t think that being a bad wrestler against Andre Muniz will let him start grappling exchanges from positions where he can win them. Andre Muniz via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Muniz: Ben, Chris, Stephie, Dayne, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Anton, Zane, Bissell
Staff picking Craig: Kristen
Jai Herbert vs. Fares Ziam
Dayne: Herbert has one of the weirdest track records in the UFC. He’s either fought opponents well out of his pay grade – and lost to them all – or opposition he was expected to beat handily… and did. Then there’s the draw with L’udovit Klein, which still doesn’t offer much of a divergent point. Bottom line: I’m still not sure how good Herbert is after six UFC fights.
Herbert offers a unique matchup for his opponents as he’s tall with an usually long reach, even for his size. It could prove to be too much for Ziam. However, Herbert is a finished product – he’s already 35 – and Ziam still has plenty of upside while offering a similar frame, even if he isn’t quite as long in his reach. Plus, Ziam’s wrestling has been showing improvement. I’ll take the younger fighter who offers upside here at UFC London. Fares Ziam via decision
Zane: I have a lot more trust for Ziam’s durability. He’s never been KO’d. That said, he might have to hold Herbert down and grind him for the win. Fares Ziam by decision.
Bissell: I think Ziam has the more well-rounded game and if Herbert can’t finish him on the feet, he can’t do much else to win this fight. Fares Ziam by decision.
Staff picking Herbert: Chris, Stephie
Staff picking Ziam: Ben, Dayne, Kristen, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Anton, Zane, Bissell
Lerone Murphy vs. Josh Culibao
Anton Tabuena: You think I’m going to pick against a Filipino?? Josh “Kuya” Culibao by KO.
Bissell: I keep picking against my fellow Brits, so Anton has me beat for patriotism. Maybe he’ll let me be an honorary Filipino if I pick Culibao? Josh Culibao via submission.
Dayne: Let it be known, I am NOT underestimating Culibao here at UFC London. Initially, I thought his roster spot was merely due to his being a late injury replacement. He’s proven me wrong; he absolutely deserves to be on the roster. That’s despite him being a below average athlete, possessing minimal power, and being an unimpressive wrestler. He makes up for it by being exceptionally technical and smart, not to mention defensively aware.
For the most part, Murphy’s strengths are Culibao’s weaknesses and vice versa. Aside from being a better athlete, what has me leaning towards Murphy is Culibao’s subpar takedowns. Murphy’s biggest weakness is his takedown defense and I’m not positive Culibao can take advantage of that. Throw in that Murphy has benefitted from home cooking before and he feels like the superior choice. Lerone Murphy via decision
Zane: I love Culibao and his gameplanning heavy approach to MMA, but I think he’ll find himself significantly out-gunned here by Murphy’s physicality, and without that massive gap presented by a fighter like Baghdasaryan’s total lack of ground game. Lerone Murphy via decision.
Staff picking Murphy: Ben, Dayne, Stephie, Kristen, Jack, Lucas, Eddie, Zane
Staff picking Culibao: Chris, Anton, Bissell
Davey Grant vs. Daniel Marcos
Dayne: I underestimated Marcos earlier this year. Along those lines, I underestimated Grant for several years. Of course, Grant has proven to be a late bloomer, so I’m sure most will forgive me for jumping onto his bandwagon late. In Marcos’ case, I wasn’t impressed by his level of competition coming into the UFC. Saimon Oliveira proved to be an appropriate step up. I’m not sure Grant is.
Grant has an iron chin to go with his understated grappling now that he’s become a noted brawler. Plus, Grant is absolutely fearless, having fought some of the best in the division. At 37, Grant could fall off a cliff at any moment, a fact exacerbated by Marcos being a far superior athlete. The pick here is he has just enough left to secure the win on his home turf at UFC London.
Zane: Grant’s age plus his propensity for wars has me worrying that the wheels are just going to fly off him sometime soon. But, I’m not entirely sold on the idea that…
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Lucas killed it last week at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Silva going 12-1! That gave me even less chance of catching him in seventh place. We had another flip flop atop the leaderboard, with Dayne going back up on Eddie thanks to a 10-3 performance. Let’s see if that changes after UFC London.
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|10 (▲1)||BE Community||107||86||193||0.554||63||8-3|
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