The UK fans came out in their thousands this past weekend for UFC London, also known as UFC Fight Night 147. In the main event, Brit Darren Till was brutally knocked out by Jorge Masvidal. In the co-main event, the perennial underappreciated contender Leon Edwards defeated Gunnar Nelson. Further down the card, there were standout performances by Brits Mike Grundy, Molly McCann and Nathaniel Wood.
Having attended the event live, now it’s time to take a look back at the card. We address which British fighters stood out, what may be next for those on the card and the big takeaways from the UFC’s annual trip to London.
British Standout Performances
Mike Grundy was the second man to make the walk in the O2 arena at UFC London. Grundy and his opponent Nad Narimani shared a competitive first round. Tentative at first, it didn’t take long for these two men to start opening up. Grundy certainly didn’t fight like someone who was making his promotional debut. He looked like someone who was taking the moment in his stride.
When clipped towards the end of the second round, Grundy stayed cool and calm. Following a knockdown, Grundy TKO’d Narimani with just 18 seconds left in the round. Props to a tough Narimani who went out on his shield and never gave up, but the debutant came out on top on this occasion.
Molly McCann made history by becoming the first English female fighter to get a win in the UFC. Coming off a loss in her promotional debut, McCann received a huge roar from the fans when she walked out, which clearly gave her that extra little push.
She came out ferocious, frequently landing on Pricilla Cachoeira and was clearly searching for the takedown throughout. At the end of the first round, there were multiple moments where it looked as if McCann was going to secure the submission victory. To her credit, Cachoeira was able to battle out of each of McCann’s attempts and took a number of big shots. McCann suffered a broken orbital bone but luckily she was still able to secure the unanimous decision victory.
Nathaniel Wood was in his element at UFC London. Fighting in his hometown for the first time under the UFC banner, Wood appeared cool, calm and collected. Walking out, the crowd were fully behind the young Brit. There was a feeling in the air that we were going to see something special. Wood was able to largely dominate the fight, effectively transitioning between his striking and grappling game. He secured the rear naked choke victory following a well-timed trip, handing Jose Quinonez his first submission defeat. Wood now progresses to 16-3, with 14 finishes and will be hoping to get a top 15 opponent next.
Of the 12 fights on the UFC London card, seven reached a decision, of which three were split. All three split decisions had a level of controversy. The age-old rule of ‘Don’t leave it in the judge’s hands’ came to mind throughout this card. We take a look at the controversial decisions that took place at UFC London.
Marshman vs Phillips
The first split decision of the night was ‘The battle of Wales’, between John Phillips and Jack Marshman. Both of these men were coming into this fight on two-fight skids. These two men opened the main card for a reason, they always come to throw down and put on entertaining fights. On this occasion, however, this wasn’t the case. Phillips certainly came to fight as he pushed the pace, controlled the octagon, called the fight on and scored a knockdown in the first.
Entertaining the crowd throughout, Phillips seemed certain to pick up the win. Marshman, however, picked up a split decision victory, which left the crowd both shocked and disappointed. The crowd booed Marshman when he was giving his post-fight speech, which is not what we want to see. The judges are the ones who gifted Marshman the decision, and the crowd’s anger should not be taken out on him.
Dominick Reyes vs Volkan Oezdemir
Undefeated Dominick Reyes faced former title challenger Volkan Ozedemir in what promised to be an exciting clash at 205lbs. Not quite living up to the hype, the two men took part in a closely contested back and forth battle. Landing the heavier, cleaner shots, it appeared that Ozedemir had banked the first two rounds. The fans in the arena seemed to see it the same as the pros, that Ozedemir deserved to get the nod. It is also worth noting that all three judges scored the rounds inconsistently.
This win means Reyes now climbs to 11-0 and is making a real name for himself at 205. Calling out Jon Jones in his post-fight speech, Reyes can be a tricky fight for anyone. The logical next step for him is to face a top-five opponent, but with everyone in the top five either injured or booked, a bout against Corey Anderson could be next.
Leon Edwards vs Gunnar Nelson
Leon Edwards was able to pick up his seventh straight win when he out-pointed Gunnar Nelson at UFC London. It appeared to be a clear victory for the Brit, either 30-27 but could have also been seen 29-28. What we got was a 29-27 and a 29-28 in Edwards’ favour, and a 29-28 in favour of Nelson. It is hard to see how Nelson won two rounds, especially as Edwards came close to finishing the Icelandic native. The Birmingham man connected with a crushing elbow on the break, something he had previously been looking for, knocking down Nelson at the end of the second. Edwards showed that he has better wrestling than people give him credit for and deserves a lot more respect in the 170lbs division.
The win is a little overshadowed by the altercation he was involved in with Jorge Masvidal backstage after the fight. Edwards appeared to suggest a fight between himself and Masvidal in July. Masvidal was doing an interview for ESPN, but put it on pause and went to confront Edwards. The pair threw strikes at each other, Edwards coming off worse with a cut below the eye. This appears the next fight to make and now they have a narrative it would be sure to make the build up very interesting.
Other Takeaways from UFC London
Is Arnold Allen’s focus on being ‘technical’ a hindrance?
Arnold Allen progressed to a seven-fight win streak, five of which have been in the UFC. Of these UFC wins, three have been by decision, and two by submission. What was clear is that the Tristar man is measured and well-schooled, especially in his striking. Arguably, he could be too focused on being “technical” for his own good.
He doesn’t seem to take too many risks in his fights, despite having knockout power, finishing five of his ten fights before entering the UFC by KO. In the last 10 seconds of every round this weekend, Allen excited the crowd by landing heavy shots on Jordan Rinaldi, even knocking him down at one point.
Allen showed he has what it takes to really make a name for himself at 145lbs, but if he wants to become a real fan favourite, he may need to take a few more risks and show that talent that excites crowds.
Are Till’s days at welterweight numbered?
Darren Till suffered his second consecutive loss at the hands of Jorge Masvidal via a brutal KO. Although Masvidal put on a quality performance and we must not take away from this, we have to ask whether Till’s days at 170lbs are numbered.
Till’s weight cuts have always been brutal, and his move up to middleweight is inevitable, but should it happen now? Till has twice missed weight in the UFC and has always struggled to make 170. Dropped by Tyron Woodley and then finished in brutal fashion at UFC London, it may be time for Till to move up in weight so he doesn’t have to debilitate his body to make the welterweight limit. Analysts Dan Hardy and Paul Felder both suggested that a move up in weight is what they would like to see for Till next. Without having to focus on his weight cut, Till can concentrate on improving his skills. The move up in weight will also mean that Till won’t have to punish his body to make 170, which could improve his performance overall.
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