The first UFC Fight Pass event of the year is here, a card that didn’t live up to the expectations it initially had. Many hoped to see former champ Michael Bisping’s retirement bout here or prospect Darren Till’s return following his breakthrough win over Donald Cerrone last year. Neither of those fighters are on UFC London, which may be disappointing to some, but this event still carries some notable bouts. In the main event, former UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum takes on top 10 heavyweight Alexander Volkov. Apart from the headlining fight, knockout artist Jimi Manuwa fights Jan Blachowicz, and prospect Tom Duquesnoy looks bounce back from his first UFC loss by taking on Terrion Ware.
What: UFC London (UFC Fight Night 127)
Where: The O2 Arena in London, England.
When: Saturday, March 17. The eight-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 1:45 p.m. ET, and the four-fight main card begins at 5 p.m. ET also on UFC Fight Pass.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Volkov
This is an important fight for the heavyweight division. It’s not written in stone, but the winner here could get the next crack at the heavyweight belt, or more likely a title eliminator bout.
Werdum has picked up two straight victories since losing a decision to Alistair Overeem last July. Those two wins haven’t been over high-profile opponents — Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura — but nonetheless, Werdum is carrying some momentum into this fight. By now, we know who Werdum is and what he’s capable of doing in the cage. Werdum is a skilled striker who’s good at managing range and diversifying his attacks. Werrdum is arguably the best submission artist in MMA. Grappling with Werdum is always a bad idea. The Brazilian heavyweight also has an immense amount of experience.
Meanwhile, Alexander Volkov might not carry the prestige that Werdum has, but he’s definitely a game fighter in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The former Bellator champ has good striking and a good ability to use his size advantage in the clinch. Volkov is also very aggressive, which makes him a dangerous rival.
I think this is an interesting challenge for Fabricio Werdum. Volkov might be odd and aggressive enough on the feet to complicate things for Werdum, at least early in the fight. If this were a three-round fight, I think this bout could be a little closer. But over the course of five rounds, Werdum should be able to figure out Volkov.
I’m going to go with Werdum in this one. I just think he’s just the better all-around fighter. I see Werdum out-striking Volkov to win a decision.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Jan Blachowicz
The first fight wasn’t the most exciting, so I don’t really have high expectations for this rematch.
Jimi Manuwa is one of the more dangerous fighters at light heavyweight. Manuwa is quick, explosive, and powerful in his striking. The Englishman is capable of knocking out anyone at any given time. Manuwa also has good takedown defense. But despite being offensively sound, Manuwa’s defense on the feet isn’t the greatest. Manuwa doesn’t have a bad chin, but it’s not made out of granite either. And to be among the elite, having an ability to take a hard shot is key.
Blachowicz is a seasoned veteran who has been fighting professionally for quite a while. Blachowicz might not be as athletic as Manuwa, but the 34-year-old always shows up in good form. The Polish fighter is very durable and he’s one of the more well-rounded fighters in the division.
Unless Blachowicz makes an effort to be the one moving forward, this bout will likely look like the first one. Blachowicz needs to be the aggressor in this one and not let Manuwa get comfortable. If Blachowicz is able to dictate the pace, I think he has a solid chance at winning this bout. But with not much power and a fairly low output in his striking game, I don’t like Blachowicz’s chances in this one.
Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware
Tom Duquesnoy is a good striker with a varied attack. He is quick, agile, and well conditioned. He also carries a decent amount of power and respectable takedown defense.
Terrion Ware just seems to be getting all the high-level prospect matchups, but Ware is actually a pretty solid fighter. The 31-year-old has a good jab and a good ability to put together high-level combinations. Ware is also very experienced and fights composed.
This will likely win ‘Fight of the Night.’ Both these guys like to strike and they’re very active on the feet. Duquesnoy is a big favorite in the betting odds, but I find those odds to be off. Ware is very game here. He’s tough and technically sound on the feet.
I’m feeling a bit risky, so I’m going to go with Ware. Duquesnoy is hittable, and I believe Ware’s speed and pressure will allow him to get the better of the striking exchanges.
Leon Edwards vs. Peter Sobotta
Sobotta is a fantastic grappler with solid takedowns and dominant top control. Historically, Sobotta hasn’t been much of a striker, but that changed in his last outing against Ben Saunders, where his striking looked sharp and powerful. Sobotta is very experienced and has a good fight IQ.
Leon Edwards is a very technical striker with a great takedown defense. Edwards can put together quick combinations that can cause a great deal of damage. He might not be known as a power puncher, but he is dangerous on his feet, as he’s very precise with his shots. Edwards is not dangerous in the grappling department, but has a solid submission defense and a good ability to stuff takedowns.
This is a fun booking. I see Edwards having some issues with Sobotta’s grappling and pressure, but eventually finding his rhythm on the feet.
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