LONDON — The UFC is back in England for the second time this year with a UFC Fight Night card on Saturday inside the O2 Arena.
The promotion went three years without a single event in London between 2019 and 2022, but it’s making up for lost time by staging two in the past five months. English heavyweight Tom Aspinall (12-2) has served as the headliner for both, and he could take a big step toward title contention with a victory over Curtis Blaydes (16-3) this weekend.
As was the case in March, Saturday is loaded with popular English talent — including lightweight Paddy Pimblett (18-3), who will meet Jordan Leavitt (10-1), and Molly McCann (12-4), who will take on Hannah Goldy (6-2).
The card also sees the return of Swedish light heavyweight and three-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (18-7), who is coming off a two-year layoff, against Nikita Krylov (27-9).
Follow along as Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi recap the action, or watch the fights live on ESPN+.
Fight in progress:
Featherweights: Nathaniel Wood (17-5, 4-2 UFC, -575) vs. Charles Rosa (14-7, 5-7 UFC, +425)
UFC London results
Featherweights: Jonathan Pearce (13-4, 4-1 UFC) def. Makwan Amirkhani (17-8, 7-6 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
Don’t look now, but Pearce has developed into a real factor in the featherweight division.
Pearce dominated the game Amirkhani en route to a TKO victory at 4:10 of the second round. While Amirkhani had some success in the grappling early, Pearce was a monster in top position, posturing up and landing big ground and pounded on Amirkhani until referee Dan Movahedi stepped in to stop it.
“JSP, baby!” Pearce said in his postfight interview. “Whoa!”
Amirkhani was the aggressor in the first round, trying to take things to the ground where he could work his creative choke game. But Pearce was quick with elbows to the temple when Amirkhani went for single-leg takedowns. Amirkhani was bloodied early into the fight, though he did have some submission attempts in the first.
In the second, Amirkhani seemed tired from the energy he expended in the first round. He landed some good punches on the feet, including an uppercut, but Pearce was the fresher fighter. He took Amirkhani down, got into dominant position and poured on a barrage of offense leading to the finish.
Pearce, 30, has won four straight since moving down to featherweight in November 2020. The Tennessee native, who trains out of Fight Ready MMA in Arizona, has three finishes during that streak, too. Amirkhani, a 33-year-old Iran-born Finland resident, has dropped four of five.
Men’s flyweights: Muhammad Mokaev (8-0, 2-0 UFC) def. Charles Johnson (11-3, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Mokaev, 21, cruised to unanimous 30-27 scorecards by simply controlling Johnson against the fence. I have repeatedly attempted to get Johnson to the floor, but it was mostly unsuccessful. Rather than break away, however, he remained in the clinch.
There was an exciting suplex in the final round, and Mokaev briefly used the slam to take Johnson’s back, but the 31-year-old veteran calmly worked out of the position. According to UFC Stats, Mokaev attempted 26 total takedowns and converted 12.
It was a bit of a lackluster performance after his UFC debut in March, when he submitted Cody Durden in just 58 seconds. His record of him remains perfect though. Johnson went 0-1 in the UFC.
Lightweights: Jai Herbert (12-4, 2-3 UFC) def. Kyle Nelson (13-5, 1-4 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Herbert, 34, gutted out a big win over Nelson on Saturday, as the Englishman has now won two of his last three matches in the UFC. Herbert’s ability to strike from distance helped him keep command of the fight throughout. Nelson, 31, drops to 1-4 in the UFC.
Women’s flyweights: Victory Leonardo (9-5, 1-2 UFC) def. Mandy Bohm (7-2, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
In her first UFC win, Victoria Leonardo dominated in all three rounds to earn the victory over Mandy Bohm. Leonardo lost her de ella first two matches in the UFC by TKO after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in November 2020. Bohm is now 0-2 in the UFC.
Welterweights: Nicolas Dalby (20-4-1 1 NC, 3-1 1 NC UFC) def. Claudio Silva (14-4, 5-3 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Silva came on strong early in round one, landing a takedown and keeping the fight on the ground. However, Dalby recovered and in rounds two and three kept the fight standing and landed multiple strikes on his opponent. Dalby’s pressure wore down Silva, who fatigued in the later rounds and was less effective by the end of the match.
Dalby, 37, earned his third UFC win of his career. Silva, 39, has now lost three in a row, all by unanimous decision.
Still to eat:
Heavyweights: Curtis Blaydes (16-3, 11-3 UFC, +120) vs. Tom Aspinall (12-2, 5-0 UFC, -140)
Middleweights: Jack Hermansson (22-7, 9-5 UFC, -105) vs. Chris Curtis (29-8, 3-0 UFC, -115)
Lightweights: Paddy Pimblett (18-3, 2-0 UFC, -260) vs. Jordan Leavitt (10-1, 3-1 UFC, +210)
Light heavy weights: Nikita Krylov (27-9, 8-7 UFC, -200) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (18-7, 10-7 UFC, +170)
Women’s flyweights: Molly McCann (12-4, 5-3 UFC, -410) vs. Hannah Goldy (6-2, 1-2 UFC, +320)
Light heavy weights: Paul Craig (16-4-1, 8-4-1 UFC, +140) vs. Volkan Ozdemir (17-6, 5-5 UFC, -155)
Lightweights: Mason Jones (11-1 1 NC, 1-1 1 NC UFC, -400) vs. Ludovit Klein (18-4, 2-2 UFC, +310)
Lightweights: Marc Diakiese (15-5, 6-5 UFC, -360) vs. Damir Hadzović (14-6, 4-4 UFC, +280)
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism