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UFC London: Preview and Main Card Predictions

For the first time in 2018, the UFC will hold an event on European soil for UFC Fight Night 127 (UFC London). The four-fight main card airs at 5:00 PM EST with the prelims kicking off at 1:45 PM EST. The entire event will air on UFC Fight Pass.  Headlining the card will be former UFC Heavyweight Champion (#3) Fabricio Werdum  continuing his charge back to the title when he faces the red-hot (#8) Alexander Volkov. The co-main-event features a light-heavyweight rematch between London’s own Jimi Manuwa and Poland’s Jan Blachowicz.  UFC London takes place at the o2 Arena in London, England on March 17, 2018.

#3 Fabricio Werdum vs. #8 Alexander Volkov – Heavyweight Fight

With UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic booked to coach The Ultimate Fighter 27 and defend his belt at season’s end against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, the rest of the heavyweight division is left to fend for themselves until at least international fight week.  Former champion Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) has been doing everything in his power by taking on all challengers in hope to solidify a position as number one contender and get another opportunity to take back what he feels is his.  In doing so, he finds himself in another fight night main-event slot against Alexander Volkow (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC). The Russian has won five in a row including all three of his UFC fights. While uncertain, the winner here will be discussed in the conversation for who is next in line to challenge for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Even at 40-years-old Werdum is showing no signs of slowing down.  Werdum has been one of the more active heavyweights on the roster. Since dropping his title at UFC 198 in 2016, Werdum has competed four times.  Three of those have been dominant wins over Travis Browne, Walt Harris, and most recently, Marcin Tybura in the main event of UFC Sydney last October.  While Werdum feels he should be next in line for a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship, he’s staying active and continuing to face dangerous, rising contenders.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion will have his hands full when he steps into the octagon against Volkov.

What to look out for with Werdum – Werdum is often talked about when it comes to the most decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the UFC. “Vai Carvalho” owns 10 career submission victories over some of the sport’s most accomplished competitors. Werdum is a submission threat wherever the fight goes. Meanwhile, Werdum’s work with Master Rafael Cordeiro  of Kings MMA has evolved his striking to some of the best in the division. Werdum uses high-volume, combination striking that has also won him numerous fights.

“Drago” Volkov having fought 32 times across top promotions M-1 and Bellator MMA.  Since joining the UFC, Volkov has defeated the likes of Timothy Johnson, Roy Nelson and most recently, Stefan Struve in the main event  of UFC Rotterdam last September. Volkov was able to negate the height and reach advantage of Struve before scoring a third-round knockdown and TKO earning the first finish in his three-fight UFC career.  In 29 victories, Volkov has 18 KO/TKOs. He’ll most certainly be shooting to keep the fight on the feet against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.

What to look out for with Volkov – Standing at 6’7, Volkov one of the tallest competitors in the division. He uses his length extremely well maintaining distance with jabs and front kicks. Volkov has the power to put the lights out but it’s his combination striking that tends to frustrate opponents. For how tall and long Volkov is, he’s deceptively quick too. Although it’s not his forte, Volkov does own three submission wins on his record. Volkov has competed a whopping 35 times and is still only 29.

Prediction – For Volkov to get the job done, he’ll absolutely need to utilize his length and distance to limit the high-volume striking of Werdum and prevent him from getting inside for takedown attempts.  On the other hand, Werdum has a lot of ways to secure the victory. Werdum is confident in his striking and fighting 25 minutes has never been a problem for the Brazilian. Werdum’s improved striking opens up the takedown attempt and ultimately the submission finish. Werdum by submission, round three.

#4 Jimi Manuwa vs. #11 Jan Blachowicz – Light-Heavyweight Fight

The co-main event features a rematch of a 2015 matchup between the two at UFC Kraków in which Jimi Manuwa (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) was awarded a controversial decision over Jan Blachowicz (21-7 MMA, 4-4 UFC). While the last bout was contested in Blachowicz’ home country of Poland, this match will take place in Manuwa’s hometown of London. Manuwa’s last four UFC appearances have featured both brilliant performances (knockouts of Ovince Saint Preux and Corey Anderson) and vicious defeats (knockout losses to Anthony Johnson and Volkan Oezdemir). Questions remain on Manuwa’s ability to take a punch but there’s no denying he has some of the heaviest hands in the division.

Manuwa’s opponent Blachowicz on the other hand, might just finally be starting to turn a corner in his UFC career. The 35-year-old will enter UFC London riding back-to-back wins over up-and-comers Devin Clark and Jared Cannonier. Prior to those victories, Blachowicz suffered bad defeats to Patrick Cummins and Alexander Gustafsson, a training partner of Manuwa. For Blachowicz, he’ll definitely want to avoid the big, power punches of Manuwa while also looking for counter-striking and level-changes during exchanges.

Prediction – On paper, it’s hard to bet against history repeating itself. But based on both fighters’ recent performances, it seems Manuwa is susceptible to the knockout. While Blachowicz has no knockouts in his four UFC wins (has one TKO win by body kick), he’s certainly capable of hurting Manuwa.  Blachowicz eats a few strikes early before catching the Englishman and putting him away silencing the crowd. Blachowicz by TKO, round two.

Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware – Bantamweight Fight

France’s “Fire Kid” Tom Duquesnoy (15-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) generated quite a bit of buzz when he was signed by the UFC but when his most recent outing at UFC 216 saw him on the wrong end of a split decision to Cody Stamann, little has been heard from. Duquesnoy will look to get back on track and generate the hype once again leveraging his flashy but well-rounded style.

Will third time be the charm for Terrion Ware (17-6 MMA, 0-2 UFC)? Since joining the UFC in 2017, Ware has found himself in losing efforts to the aforementioned Stamann, and Sean O’Malley at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. Ware is a striker at heart who has shown susceptibility to getting taken down and controlled on the ground.

Prediction – Ware has faced two incredibly tough challengers thus far but in the UFC, everyone is tough. Duquesnoy is the younger, faster, and more decorated competitor in this one. While Ware has proven he’s no easy task to put away, Duquesnoy should be able to implement the Jackson-Wink MMA gameplan and dictate the direction of the fight. Duquesnoy by decision.

#15 Leon Edwards vs. Peter Sobotta – Welterweight Fight

Kicking off the main card will be a battle of surging European welterweights. Leon Edwards (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) will get to compete in his home country when he faces Germany’s Peter Sobotta (17-5-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC).  Edwards appears to be scratching the surface of the top of the division. Now sporting a long-overdue ranking, Edwards will look to make it five straight wins. His last two appearances were in March and September of 2017 defeating the likes of Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena respectively. Edwards can prime himself for a big opportunity with an impressive win.

While Sobotta’s UFC record seems average, it’s important to note this is his second stint with the promotion. Sobotta went winless in three fights in 2010. Five finishes later, Sobotta made his return in 2014 and is on a 4-1 run including two finishes. In his most recent outing, Sobotta dispatched of Ben Saunders with a second-round TKO at UFC Stockholm last May. While Sobotta prefers to grapple, his last two fights have shown significant evolution in his striking abilities.

Prediction – Edwards is slightly favored coming into this fight but there is quite a bit of unknown as both competitors have shown comfort on the feet and the mat. If Sobotta can get Edwards to the ground, he could have success. On the feet, the lightning quick Edwards has finishing ability but the German is an experienced veteran there as well. This is anyone’s fight.  Edwards by decision.

UFC London Prelims Highlights

With only four fights on the main card, the UFC London card will feature eight prelims airing exclusively on UFC Fight Pass. The evening’s curtain-jerker features England’s own Mark Godbeer (13-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) squares off with Dmitriy Sosnovskiy (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) who makes his debut after signing with the UFC over two years ago. Two other Englishmen will compete on the card as Bradley Scott (11-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Danny Roberts (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) battle Jack Marshman (22-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Oliver Enkamp (7-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) respectively. Meanwhile two highly-touted prospects make their UFC debuts against Scottish athletes.  Canadian featherweight destroyer Hakeem Dawodu (7-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut against Scotland’s Danny Henry (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and top Russian light-heavyweight Magomed Ankalev (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) puts his undefeated record on the line against Paul Craig (9-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC). Two longstanding veterans and former training partners at the widely-recognize TriStar Gym are set to tangle as well. Canadian Kajan Johnson (22-12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has won three-straight including a UFC 215 knockout of Adriano Martins. He’ll go up against Stevie Ray (21-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) who will be competing for the first time under his new UFC contract. Another TriStar product, Nasrat Haqparast (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) welcomes the late-notice newcomer Nad Narimani (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Headlining the prelims will be the debut of European fan-favorite, “The White Mike Tyson” John Phillips (21-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Phillips will be opposed by another debuting middleweight in Fortis MMA’s Charles Byrd (9-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) who scored two submission victories on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to earn a UFC contract this past summer.

UFC London Main Card

  • #3 Fabricio Werdum vs. #8 Alexander Volkov
  • #4 Jimi Manuwa vs. #11 Jan Blachowicz
  • Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware
  • #15 Leon Edwards vs. Peter Sobotta

UFC London Prelims

  • John Phillips vs. Charles Byrd
  • Danny Roberts vs. Oliver Enkamp
  • Jack Marshman vs. Brad Scott
  • Danny Henry vs. Hakeem Dawodu
  • Paul Craig vs. Magomed Ankalaev
  • Mark Godbeer vs. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy
  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Nad Narimani
  • Kajan Johnson vs. Stevie Ray


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