A card already being considered one of the best Fight Night events in UFC history, UFC London delivered and then some this past Saturday. Fans at the O2 Arena practically blew the roof off the venue as nine of twelve fights finished inside the distance, including big wins for home favorites Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblett, and Tom Aspinall. Here’s what could come next for the night’s big winners.
It’s a matchmaker’s dream when a budding star makes a smart callout after a win, and Tom Aspinall did just that after he submitted Alexander Volkov with a straight arm-bar at UFC London.
Aspinall took to the mic and called out Tai Tuivasa after the win, and that’s a great pick. Both fighters are surging, but probably need one more win before fighting for a (likely interim) title. While pairing up prospects early in their careers isn’t always a popular decision, as Aspinall himself told Cageside Press ahead of the event, he expects himself, Tuivasa, and Chris Daukaus, the new breed heavyweights in the UFC, to all fight two or three times before their careers are over. So let’s get to this one.
Aspinall’s next fight: Tai Tuivasa
Being a quiet guy hasn’t helped Arnold Allen in his career, but winning nine straight fights sure has. As has smoking the always durable Dan Hooker in the UFC London co-main event. After the fight, Allen, like Aspinall, called his shot — he wants Calvin Kattar in a main event fight. Kattar has already agreed, so this is an easy fight to book.
Allen’s next fight: Calvin Kattar
This one is a little tougher. Pimblett has downplayed the idea of fighting “Mr. Hand Sanitizer” Ilia Topuria, saying lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep. The fact that Topuria himself is also a lion, however, should not be ignored. Pimblett, meanwhile, was once again rocked in a fight before finding a way to win.
Just two fights into his UFC career, there’s no need to rush Pimblett. He’s a massive star in the making, already huge at home, and got the loudest reaction of the night from the crowd at the O2. He could probably anchor the co-main event whenever the UFC returns to the UK, which will be later this year. Against who?
Ottman Azaitar is a perfect 13-0, and like Pimblett has two wins in the UFC. It’s a legit contest and a test for Pimblett without throwing him in the deep end.
Pimblett’s next fight: Ottman Azaitar
At the risk of getting lazy, Gunnar Nelson also had a name on his lips following UFC London: Santiago Ponzinibbio. Enough time has passed since their first meeting to run this one back, and it’s the type of match-up that can serve as a co-feature on a smaller Fight Night card.
Nelson’s next fight: Gunnar Nelson
Wow. “Meatball” Molly won big at home. Just in time for the release of a documentary on her fighting journey, McCann floored Luana Carolina with a spinning back elbow for one of the best knockouts in women’s MMA history. That was after lighting up Carolina for the better part of three rounds.
Suddenly, McCann looks like a real fun fighter. Next up, another Brazilian coming off a big win: Priscila Cachoeira. Her fight with Ji Yeon Kim was a firefight, and this just feels fun.
McCann’s next fight: Priscila Cachoeira
It probably won’t be Pimblett, regardless of the obvious grudge match angle. So who should Ilia Topuria fight next? That depends on if this lightweight move sticks, because the match-up with Charles Jourdain was a real fun one. But, if it’s 155lbs moving forward for Topuria, how about Rafael Fiziev? Both guys are red-hot, and Topuria is ranked #15 at featherweight while Fiziev is #11 at lightweight.
Topuria’s next fight: Rafael Fiziev