UFC London: Werdum vs. Volkov — Preliminary Results and Recap

Fabricio Werdum UFC
Fabricio Werdum Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

The UFC’s annual trip to London, England went down Saturday — who stole the show, and who fizzled on fight night?

The UFC returned to London, England on Saturday with a card that would confound UFC fans around the world. After many expected either a retirement fight from Michael Bisping, or an appearance from the up-and-coming Darren Till, in the UFC London main event, they were granted neither. Instead, fights for both men fell through; the end result, a heavyweight clash between Fabricio Werdum and Alexander Volkov.

Though not the worst headliner, a lack of creativity on the part of UFC matchmaker’s permeated the card. UFC Fight Night 117 (as UFC London is otherwise known) was very much a Fight Pass card. A lack of top talent, a lack of big stars, and a lack of relevance to the title picture of any division outside heavyweight. In comparison, rival Bellator was stacking its 200th show in London. Yet that’s a debate for a later day.

First up came a half-dozen plus one preliminary fights on UFC Fight Pass. Whether or not these were a magnificent seven remained to be seen; on paper, a lack of star power was blatant, but as any MMA fan knows, those are the fights that often deliver.

Topping  the preliminary card was a middleweight scrap between Charles Byrd, making his UFC debut following two appearances on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He was set to take on ‘The Welsh Wrecking Machine’ John Phillips. Further down the card, Canadian Kajan Johnson faced Stevie Ray; the subplot to the fight was that both fighters could be seen as on the outs with the UFC of late. Meanwhile, to prep fans for the heavyweight main event, another pair of big men threw down, as Mark ‘Hand of’ Godbeer faced Dmitriy Sosnovskiy.

Nad Narimani vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Off the top of the UFC Fight Night 127 broadcast, the promotion announced that Nad Narimani vs. Nasrat Haqparast was off. That was due to an medical condition suffered by Nasrat Haqparast. In their official statement, the UFC said that “Based on advice from the UFC medical team on Saturday morning, Nasrat Haqparast was deemed unfit to fight due to an infectious eye condition and his bout against Nad Narimani has been cancelled.”

Mark Godbeer vs. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy

Former Bellator heavyweight Mark Godbeer welcomed Russian Dmitriy Sosnovskiy to the octagon Saturday at UFC London. Right off the opening bell, Sosnovskiy ran in and initiated a Thai clinch, throwing a solid knee in the process. Godbeer, however, would manage to muscle his opponent to the cage, tying him up. It was Sosnovskiy, though, who was able to impose his will, getting the fight to the ground, and working from guard, trying to pass to side control. This went on for some time, and while it wasn’t the most thrilling sequence, Sosnovskiy stayed active. Despite this, the ref stood the pair up. That gave Godbeer a chance to land a right hand followed by a short left, and get in his best offense of the round. A tired Sosnovskiy was eventually forced to shoot for a takedown, which Godbeer defended. He wound up in the Russian’s guard, adding damage from the top.

In the second, Godbeer went to the body with a kick, before Sosnovskiy pressed the action back up against the cage. The Russian worked in some knees, then proceeded to throw Godbeer to the canvas in a body lock. Sosnovskiy then worked for an ankle lock, but the attempt backfired, and Godbeer went for his opponent’s back. That backfired in turn, with Sosnovskiy getting back on top, moving quickly to side control. He wouldn’t stay there long; a short while later it was Godbeer on top, but Sosnovskiy still threatening with a kimura from the bottom. With little over a minute to go, the ref stood them up. Godbeer was then rocked; a desperation shot saw Sosnovskiy in mount. Godbeer rolled over, giving up his back. Sosnovskiy made no mistake, sinking in the rear-naked choke and forcing the tap!

Dmitriy Sosnovskiy def. Mark Godbeer by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 4:29

Kajan Johnson vs. Stevie Ray

Canada’s Kajan Johnson took on Scotland’s Stevie Ray in lightweight action early on the UFC Fight Night 127 card. After the pair circled briefly, Johnson opened with a kick; he’d go to the body moments later with a punch that forced Ray to take a step back. Johnson stayed mobile on the outside, adding another kick to the body before Stevie Ray answered back. Johnson’s kicks continued to go both high and low, while Ray looked for a way to cut off the cage. This game continued through nearly the entire first round, with Johnson baiting his opponent, and launching kicks when Ray chose to take the bait.

In round two, Johnson caught Stevie Ray early, sending him reeling. Johnson charged forward, throwing a kick high, then changing levels and scoring a takedown. However, Ray was able to lock in a tight guillotine. Kajan Johnson slowly, methodically fought it off, stepping over for better positioning; he finally freed himself and nearly took Ray’s back. Not long after they were back on the ground with Johnson in control. The second half of the round, however, Stevie Ray finally managed to get in control, finishing the frame in top position. Heading to the third, it was very possible each man had won a round a piece; Johnson was also nursing a possible leg injury.

Ray pressed the action in the third, landing a heavy right hand just over a minute in. He began teeing off on Johnson, who was very likely rocked. Johnson changed levels, but couldn’t get the takedown; sticking with it, he took the back but in a scramble, Stevie Ray was able to isolate a leg. Johnson was able to free his leg, and wound up in Ray’s butterfly guard. Kajan would be in control for a good minute or more, but was unable to do any damage, with the ref finally standing the pair up. Back on the feet, Ray was clearly head-hunting, but opted to level change with less than a minute to go, scoring a takedown. He couldn’t get the finish, however; that took things to the judge’s scorecards.

After the decision was read — a split decision in favor of Johnson — Kajan Johnson admonished the crowd for booing the result. “We deserve nothing but your respect” he said, pointing out that they were sweating and bleeding for the masses. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Kajan Johnson def. Stevie Ray by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Paul Craig vs. Magomed Ankalaev

Light heavyweight action was up next at UFC London, as Paul Craig met dangerous Russian Magomed Ankalaev. Craig was active early, attacking with kicks and working the jab. Ankalaev answered back, letting hands fly, and Craig was on the retreat. In a clinch, Craig then connected with a knee solidly to the groin, causing a pause in the action and eliciting a warning from the ref. Once things were back underway, Paul Craig shot for a single leg takedown, which Ankalaev easily defended. Off a break Ankalaev landed a hard left hand; Craig however dragged things to the ground. He was able to tie Ankalaev up, controlling the action and landing a few decent punches while in control. Ankalaev reversed, however, with just over a minute left in the round. He looked to create space, but Craig was able to force him back with upkicks. In the final seconds, however, Ankalaev was able to get in one last flurry of strikes on the downed Craig.

Craig launched a spinning back kick early in the second, while Magomed Ankalaev opted to take a more measured approach. The fight looked nothing like the lopsided match-up the betting lines claimed (Ankalaev was a heavy favorite). Ankalaev then pressed the action against the fence, putting his weight on Craig. Then off the break, he landed a heavy left, something he’d done earlier in the fight. Ankalaev would later take his foe down, and pass to side control. The undefeated Ankalaev worked in elbows to the body, and would finish the frame in control.

Paul Craig ate a head kick early in the third, and was in serious danger. Craig was down, but not out; Ankalaev stayed cautious, and was perhaps too cautious. Ahead on the scorecards, he had a chance to do serious damage, but was instead walking Craig down only to throw single strikes. His hands were accurate but the volume simply wasn’t there, and Craig was slowly recovering. He changed levels, looking for a takedown, but Ankalaev was having none of it. Ankalaev nearly reversed but Craig escaped to his feet; a spinning elbow by Ankalaev then sent Craig reeling. He fell to the floor, but again Ankalaev was slow to pound. He was then warned for strikes to the back of the head; Craig, meanwhile, was soon on his back with Ankalaev in guard. The pair were tight to the fence, and with Craig no doubt needing a finish, the writing was on the wall. Then came a moment of shock: the ten second warning had passed. The ref was all set to come in and break them apart, anticipating the end of the fight. Yet Paul Craig refused to quit, got his legs up, and locked in a triangle choke. With a single second remaining in the fight, Ankalaev tapped! In a huge upset and fantastic comeback, Craig had the submission win.

Paul Craig def. Magomed Ankalaev by submission (triangle choke), Round 3, 4:59

Danny Henry vs. Hakeem Dawodu

Hakeem Dawodu was a highly touted featherweight prospect in his UFC debut, but it was Danny Henry dropping him in the opening seconds! Dawodu scrambled, tried to survive, but Henry was able to sink in a guillotine choke. The Canadian Dawodu tried to hang on, but he was quickly out — Danny Henry had the submission win!

Danny Henry def. Hakeem Dawodu by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1, 0:39

Danny Roberts vs. Oliver Enkamp

In welterweight action, Danny Roberts opened with a leg kick and kept his hands up against the flashy Oliver Enkamp. Enkamp, however, soon ate a hard left hand and shot for a takedown. Roberts was looking to scramble then switched to a whizzer; he was quickly free. Enkamp, meanwhile, appeared to have recovered. Yet moments later, Roberts was going to work again. He slipped a big left under the arm of Enkamp, landing flush, dropping him! That was all she wrote!

Danny Roberts def. Oliver Enkamp by knockout, Round 1, 2:12

John Phillips vs. Charles Byrd

The featured fight of UFC London’s Fight Pass prelims featured a pair of newcomers in John Phillips and Charles Byrd. It was Byrd scoring the early takedown, controlling Phillips on the mat. He quickly had mount, and took his time, ensuring Phillips could not escape. Byrd managed to mix in rarely seen shoulder strikes, elbows, and was having his way with his opponent. Phillips would eventually give up his back; Byrd couldn’t capitalize but wound up back in half-guard (and in control) regardless.

It wasn’t long before Charles Byrd found he finish. With a second shot at the rear mount, he took the back and sunk in a rear-naked choke. Phillips was forced to tap, and Byrd picked up the win in the final prelim of the night.

Charles Byrd def. John Phillips by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 3:58

UFC London Fight Pass Preliminary Results

Charles Byrd def. John Phillips by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 3:58
Danny Roberts def. Oliver Enkamp by knockout, Round 1, 2:12
Danny Henry def. Hakeem Dawodu by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1, 0:39
Paul Craig def. Magomed Ankalaev by submission (triangle choke), Round 3, 4:59
Kajan Johnson def. Stevie Ray by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dmitriy Sosnovskiy def. Mark Godbeer by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 4:29
Nad Narimani vs. Nasrat Haqparast was cancelled