Tom Aspinall made good on his breakout moment, proving himself as a legitimate UFC heavyweight title contender in front of his home nation at UFC London. Aspinall made short work of Alexander Volkov, exceeding in all aspects of MMA on Saturday.
Aspinall immediately took control of the fight, getting inside of Volkov’s height and reach advantage. The Englishman landed crisp boxing combinations on the feet and took down Volkov at will. A takedown in the second half of Round 1 set up a series of arm submission attacks by Aspinall. The Manchester native ultimately secured a straight arm lock, eliciting a tap by Volkov with time to spare in the opening round.
Aspinall spoke with UFC commentator Michael Bisping moments after having his hands raised and issued a challenge to Tai Tuivasa. The callout is apt as Aspinall and Tuivasa have emerged as fresh faces among the heavyweight elite.
“First thing, somebody buy me a beer. Second thing, we drink beer in the U.K. not just in Australia. So Mr. Tai Tuivasa, next time you come to the U.K., next time we’re in the U.K., let’s do it, bro. I’m ready for you.”
Molly McCann steals the show with spinning elbow
McCann and the London faithful fed off each other as she made the walk to the Octagon. She opened the round with overwhelming striking pressure, blitzing Luana Carolina for almost the entirety of the first round. She slowed things down in the middle stanza but landed a couple of big slams to the ovation of the O2 Arena. McCann put an early end to the third round with a picture-perfect spinning back elbow that slept Carolina and sent the audience into a frenzy. McCann def. Carolina via third-round TKO (spinning back elbow)
Ilia Topuria rallies from early knockdown for vicious finish
Early signs for Topuria’s move up to lightweight were not good. The highly touted featherweight struggled early with Herbert’s hyper-accurate, powerful and rangy strikes. Topuria absorbed big impact from the get-go. A head kick he leaned into floored the major betting favorite. Herbert moved in for the kill, but Topuria’s instincts bailed him out as he initiated a wrestling exchange that earned him a takedown and valuable time to recover. Topuria suffered from more thudding shots once Herbert worked back to the feet, but the smaller fighter managed to survive the first five minutes. Shockingly, a visibly-damaged Topuria pushed Herbert back to the fence early in Round 2 and slept him with a huge combination to stamp a remarkable comeback. Topuria def. Herbert via second-round knockout (punch)
Paul Craig snatches victory from the jaws of defeat … again
Craig is carving himself a unique reputation as Hero of the Hail Mary Triangle. The Scottish warrior spent the majority of Round 1 under the heavy pressure of Nikita Krylov’s ground game. When Craig wasn’t having his jaw crushed by Krylov’s forearm, the Scot ate vicious hammer fists. One could make the argument that Krylov was on the verge of a 10-8 round, if not an outright finish. In the blink of an eye, Craig clamped on a vice-like triangle choke that earned him the submission victory. It was reminiscent of Craig’s last visit to London, where he defeated Magomed Ankalaev via triangle choke at 4:59 of Round 3 in a fight he was handily losing. Craig def. Krylov via first-round submission (triangle choke)
Muhammad Mokaev delivers on expectations
There was a lot of hype behind Mokaev, 21, and he made good on all of it. Mokaev (6-0) made short work of Cody Durden in the opening fight of UFC London. Mokaev opened with a flying knee that connected square on Durden’s chin. He wrapped up a tight guillotine choke moments later to secure a sub-one-minute submission. Mokaev def. Durden via first-round submission (guillotine choke)