The UFC returns to London this weekend for UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Aspinall at the O2 Arena.

In the main event, Britain’s Tom Aspinall will take on former Bellator Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov in a battle between Top 11 ranked fighters.

The 6th ranked Volkov will be looking to win a second consecutive bout after losing to Cyril Gane last June 26, 2021. Drago is just 4-3 in his last seven bouts. Meanwhile, the 11th ranked Aspinall has won seven consecutive fights, including his first four UFC assignments.

In the co-main event, New Zealand’s Dan Hooker will return to featherweight against Arnold Allen. Meanwhile, European superstar Paddy Pimblett will be making his second UFC appearance against Kazula Vargas. Popular fighter Gunnar Nelson will also be making his return to the Octagon after more than two years off.

Let’s take a look at the UFC London main card and make our predictions.

“Fighting" Alexander Volkov vs Tom Aspinall

Alexander Volkov is a former Bellator and M-1 Global heavyweight champion. The 33-year old from Moscow, Russia is currently the no. 6 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. Drago joined the UFC in 2016 and quickly made a name for himself. He won his first four bouts and looked to be on his way to a title shot when he was knocked out by Derrick Lewis at UFC 229. Since then, he’s 4-2 and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Marcin Tybura at UFC 267.

Volkov is 34-9 with 22 knockouts and three submission wins. He is 6-7 tall with an 80-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Tom Aspinall is the UFC’s no. 11 ranked heavyweight. The 28-year old from Manchester, England began his career at BAMMA, Full Contact Contender, and Cage Warriors before joining the UFC in 2020. Aspinall knocked out Jake Collier in his UFC debut in July 2020. He followed up that win with successful stoppages against Alan Baudot, Andrei Arlovski, and Sergey Spivak. Three of his four UFC wins won Performance of the Night honors.

Aspinall is 11-2 with nine knockouts and two submission victories. He is 6-5 tall with a reach of 78 inches and fights as an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 03/18/2022

Aspinall has looked impressive in the UFC. But Volkov is still a step up in level of opposition for him. Volkov’s three losses in the UFC have been against top-notched fighters in Cyril Gane, Curtis Blaydes, and Derrick Lewis.

In this fight, the British fighter will have the speed advantage against the aging Volkov but Aspinall has never gone past round 2 in his MMA career. Volkov can be knocked out but he’s a durable fighter. In this fight, I can see Volkov testing Aspinall’s cardio with his volume striking.

With Aspinall unable to impose his plan, this fight should get past round two where he has not gone before. Volkov has fought 25 minutes before and that’s where he’s going to take Aspinall. I’m taking Volkov’s experience to beat Aspinall’s potential. Give me Drago to win.

Prediction: Alexander Volkov

“Fighting" Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker

Arnold Allen is the UFC’s no. 7 ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 28-year old from Ipswich, England started his MMA career at UCMMA, Cage Warriors, and M4TC before joining the UFC in 2015. Allen is undefeated in the UFC with 8 straight victories. In his most recent bout, Allen defeated Sodiq Yusuff via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 23 last April 10, 2021.

Allen is 17-1 with 5 knockouts and four submission victories. He is 5-8 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance.

Dan Hooker is the no. 8 ranked lightweight in the UFC but will be moving down to featherweight for this bout. The 32-year old from Auckland, New Zealand is a former King in the Ring middleweight kickboxing champion and WKBF X-Rules welterweight champion. After opening his UFC career with a 3-3 record, Hooker won seven out of his next eight bouts. He is however just 1-3 in his last four bouts but his losses have come against Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Islam Makhachev.

Hooker is 22-11 with 11 knockouts and seven submission wins. He is six feet tall with a reach of 75 inches and is a switch hitter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 03/18/2022

Hooker has a penchant for violence and going to all-out wars. He does a lot of damage on close range using his elbows. The New Zealander also uses his 6-1 frame to fight effectively from the outside and can pick his opponents apart with long-range striking. Regardless of how he strikes, Hooker is always an entertaining fighter with his aggressive style.

Allen has elite striking and has impressive footwork and hand speed. He also has power in his left hand and possesses good chain wrestling. He may not have the same volume as Hooker on the feet but he can be just as deadly. On the mat, however, it’s going to be where Allen beats Hooker.

On paper, Hooker has a good takedown defense. But Allen is the stronger fighter here and should be able to force Hooker down several times. When he is able to force the fight to the mat, he’s going to beat Hooker in the grappling department. I think Allen has more ways to win this fight.

Prediction: Arnold Allen

“Fighting" Paddy Pimblett vs Kazula Vargas

Paddy Pimblett is a former Cage Warriors champion and one of the promotion’s most popular fighters. The 27-year old from Liverpool, England joined the UFC last year and made his debut at UFC Fight Night 191 in Las Vegas. In that event, a heavily-favored Pimblett struggled against Luigi Vendramini but eventually come back to stop his opponent.

Pimblett has a record of 7-3 with six knockouts and seven submission wins. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 73 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Kazula Vargas compiled an impressive 11-3 record in the Mexican MMA scene. The 36-year old from Mexico City is a former Jasaji Fight League welterweight champion who also fought at Combate Americas before joining the UFC in 2019. Vargas lost his first two UFC bouts but is coming off a win over Rong Zhu in his most recent outing at UFC 261 last April 24, 2021.

Vargas has a record of 12-4 with seven knockouts and three submission victories. He is a southpaw fighter who stands 5-8 tall and has a reach of 71 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 03/18/2022

Pimblett enters this fight with plenty of hype but it remains to be seen if he can justify all of them. There is no question that he has power in his hands and owns a solid wrestling game. But he is also hittable and has been beaten before.

Vargas doesn’t carry the same promotion. But he too has power and is also a good wrestler. He also has everything to gain as Pimblett has everything to lose here. With no such pressure that Pimblett has, Vargas is a dangerous opponent, especially if he lands the haymaker.

It will be interesting what Vargas tries to do here. He can slug it out and hope lands the big punch first or he can replicate Nad Narimani’s success against Pimblett in that Cage Warriors bout. I think Vargas starts strong and will have his moments. But just like in his first bout, Pimblett digs deep and finds a way to win, for now.

Prediction: Paddy Pimblett

“Fighting" Gunnar Nelson vs Takashi Sato

Gunnar Nelson was a BJJ gold medalist in the Pan-American Games and a silver medalist at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. The 33-year old from Iceland was Conor McGregor’s most prominent teammate at SBG Ireland and one of the UFC’s most popular fighters. He joined the promotion in 2012 and went 7-2 in his first nin UFC bouts. Nelson, however, is just 1-3 in his last four bouts and is coming off back-to-back losses to Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns.

Nelson has a record of 17-5 with four knockouts and 12 submission victories. He is 5-11 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is a switch hitter.

Takashi Sato is fought most of his early career at Pancrase, Deep Impact, and Grand Slam. The 31-year old from Tokyo, Japan once challenged for the vacant Pancrase welterweight title but lost to Glaico Franca. Since joining the UFC in 2019, Sato is 2-2 with wins over Ben Saunders and Jason Witt. In his last bout, Sato lost to Miguel Baeza via submission at UFC Vegas 15.

Sato has a record of 16-4 with 11 knockouts and two submission victories. He is a southpaw who is 5-10 tall with a reach of 73 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 03/18/2022

Nelson is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace who also possesses slick karate skills. He’s lost more than he should’ve in the UFC but most of his losses were to excellent fighters or ranked welterweights. Despise his struggles, Nelson remains one of the most dangerous fighters on the roster.

Sato is a judo black belt but he is more known for his powerful left hand which has cracked so many jaws in past bouts. He hits hard but has struggled with his submission defense, especially from the bottom position.

Sato took this fight on two-weeks notice so he’s at a big disadvantage. However, even if he had a full camp, this still looks like a bad matchup for him. Nelson is calculate and times his punches well. He’s going to eat Sato alive on the feet. If he takes the fight down, Nelson has elite top control and would also be a problem for Sato. Either way, Nelson wins this.

Prediction: Gunnar Nelson

“Fighting" Nikita Krylov vs Paul Craig

Nikita Krylov is the 9th ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. The 30-year old from Luhansk, Ukraine formerly fought under ECSF, Oplot Challenge, Gladiator Challenge, and M-1 Global. He joined the UFC in 2013 and lost two out of his first three UFC bouts. Krylov won 10 out of his next two bouts but has dropped two out of his last three contests. In his most recent appearance, Krylov lost via decision to the streaking Magomed Anklaaev at UFC Vegas 20.

Krylov is 26-8 with 10 knockouts and 15 submission wins. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 77 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Paul Craig is the no. 11 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. The 34-year old from Scotland is a former BAMMA light heavyweight champion. Craig joined the UFC in 2016 and had a modest 3-4 start. Since then, he is undefeated in his last five bouts with one draw during that span. In his last bout, Craig knocked out Jamahal Hill at UFC 263.

Craig is 15-4 with 3 knockouts and 12 submission victories. He is 6-3 tall with a 76-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 03/18/2022

Krylov has dangerous high kicks due to his Kyokushin karate background. However, he’s spent a lot of his fights wrestling opponents. Good thing, he’s a good grinder and he has found ways to outhustle his opponents. Krylov has also shown a penchant to grab necks if he gets to his opponent’s back.

Craig has always been known for his submission game but over the years, his striking has developed. He’s on one of his best winning runs and he’s gaining confidence because of the victories. Right now, it’s tough to beat him because he’s on a roll.

If Krylov keeps this a striking affair, he’s got a solid chance of beating Craig. But if he gets lured to the wrestling game as he has been in most of his past bouts, he’s going to struggle. Sure, he is the better wrestler but he can be very sloppy with his grappling, leaving the door open for Craig’s submissions.

Prediction: Paul Craig

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