Tuesday, February 7

UFC London predictions — Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall: Fight card, start time, odds, live stream


Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall are revving to make a big splash in the UFC heavyweight division. Volkov vs. Aspinall headlines UFC’s return to London at the O2 Arena on Saturday, March 19.

Volkov (34-9) has looked impressive across 11 UFC fights, but he has always come up just short of title contention. A win over Aspinall is unlikely to catapult “Drago” into a title fight, but it may reward him with a title eliminator and the opportunity to change his fortunes for good. Volkov enters UFC London as the vastly more experienced fighter, more than tripling Aspinall’s total fights and victories. One can imagine that experience edge should be calming for Volkov, but this fight will take place in front of a hostile crowd.

Aspinall (11-1) is preparing for a breakout moment at UFC London. A victory over a battle-tested contender like Volkov would propel Aspinall among the shortlist of heavyweight contenders. The only fighter in the UFC heavyweight top 10 on an active winning streak is Tai Tuivasa. Beating Volkov likely slots Aspinall in the middle of the division and could set him up for a title eliminator. Buoyed by a four-fight winning streak to kick start his UFC run and the ovation of his fellow Englishmen, Aspinall is firing on all cylinders. The 28-year-old has shown incredible poise inside and outside the Octagon, so don’t expect the significance of UFC London to overwhelm him. Aspinall has already convinced many of his upper bound limits. UFC London is his chance to make good on expectations.

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“I think I’ve improved more in this camp than I have in the last two years, honestly,” Aspinall told the press during media day. “I feel so good. I feel in such a good place mentally, as well, like I’m just here enjoying it — but this is what my focus is on: just enjoying it. I’m not even thinking about the result, to be honest. I’m not even thinking about how I’m going to finish the fight or if it’s going to go the distance. I couldn’t give a s—. I’m just going to go in there and have the time of my life. This is my dream, and I want to enjoy it.” 

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UFC London’s co-main event welcomes Dan Hooker to the featherweight division as he looks to course-correct after losing three of his last four fights at lightweight. It will be a difficult first step for Hooker, who finds himself standing across ranked featherweight contender Arnold Allen. Marred by inactivity, fighting once a year on average since 2015, Allen has otherwise looked solid and is undefeated across eight UFC fights. Hooker’s high octane striking meets Allen’s stifling grappling skills in a fight that will significantly impact each combatant’s career. You can click here for more fights to keep an eye out for on Saturday night.

Plus, Paddy Pimblett is back in action in his backyard of England when he takes on Rodrigo Vargas in a featured slot. The former Cage Warriors champion authored an exciting UFC debut against Luigi Vendramini. Pimblett bounced back from earlier adversity and knocked his opponent out in the first round. It was far from a perfect performance, but the thrill and chaos go hand-in-hand with Pimblett’s appeal. Vargas is just 1-2 so far in his UFC career.

Here’s the fight card for UFC London with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

UFC London card, odds

Tom Aspinall -130

Alexander Volkov +110

Heavyweight

Arnold Allen -110

Dan Hooker -110

Featherweight

Paddy Pimblett -550

Rodrigo Vargas +400

Lightweight

Gunnar Nelson -500

Takashi Sato +380

Welterweight

Molly McCann -140

Luana Carolina +120

Women’s flyweight

Ilia Topuria -490

Jai Herbert +370

Lightweight

UFC London viewing information

Date: March 19 | Start time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: O2 Arena — London, England
Stream: ESPN+

Prediction

Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall: Volkov has only lost to UFC heavyweights on the cusp of title shots: Ciryl Gane, Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. Aspinall has stamped an A+ on every fight he has had in the Octagon. Expect Volkov to lean on his size advantage. He has a small, but noticeable, edge in height and reach. It’s his physical frame, however, that’s much better. Keeping Aspinall at the end of his punches and crowding when Aspinall breaks through are important tools for the Russian to utilize. Aspinall has a great overall game: crisp and technical boxing paired with wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills. The 25-minutes UFC has allocated to this fight could make a tremendous difference for Volkov. The Russian has gone full five rounds on two occasions in the UFC, four rounds against Fabricio Werdum and plenty of 15-minute fights. Aspinall, by contrast, can point to a TKO win over Andrei Arlovski in six minutes and nine seconds as his longest Octagon performance. Aspinall may very well be the real deal, but until it’s proven, I’m going to side with the vastly more experienced Volkov to get his hand raised after 25 frustrating minutes. Volkov via UD

Who wins Volkov vs. Aspinall? And what other picks do you need to see? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the insider who’s up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out. 



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