LONDON — The UFC is back in England for the second time this year with a UFC Fight Night card on Saturday inside the O2 Arena.
The promotion went three years without a single event in London between 2019 and 2022, but it’s making up for lost time by staging two in the past five months. English heavyweight Tom Aspinall (12-2) has served as the headliner for both, and he could take a big step toward title contention with a victory over Curtis Blaydes (16-3) this weekend.
As was the case in March, Saturday is loaded with popular English talent — including lightweight Paddy Pimblett (18-3), who will meet Jordan Leavitt (10-1), and Molly McCann (12-4), who will take on Hannah Goldy (6-2).
Follow along as Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi recap the action, or watch the fights live on ESPN+.
Fight in progress:
Light heavyweights: Paul Craig (16-4-1, 8-4-1 UFC, +140) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (17-6, 5-5 UFC, -155)
UFC London results
Lightweights: Ludovit Klein (19-4, 3-2 UFC) def. Mason Jones (11-2 1 NC, 1-2 1 NC UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Ludovit Klein beat Mason Jones by unanimous decision to earn his third win in the UFC, more to come from London in a bit.
Lightweights: Marc Diakiese (16-5, 7-5 UFC) def. Damir Hadzovic (14-7, 4-5 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Diakiese was once known for his kickboxing prowess. He had several highlight-reel knockouts that earned him a spot in the UFC. Now, though, it’s very clear his game has evolved a great bit.
Using almost exclusively his wrestling and top game, Diakiese dominated Hadzovic via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27). Diakiese took Hadzovic down in every round and Hadzovic simply could not deal with Diakiese’s pressure and aggressive wrestling.
Diakiese’s best strike was a right elbow in the clinch against the cage right at the second-round bell. Hadzovic’s corner asked him to go for the finish in the third round, knowing he was down on the cards. But once again, Diakiese used his wrestling to ground and frustrate his opponent.
Diakiese, 29, has won two straight following a two-fight losing streak. The Congo-born England resident is now 7-5 in the UFC. Hadzovic, a 35-year-old Yugoslavian-born Denmark resident, has dropped three of four.
Featherweights: Nathaniel Wood (18-5, 5-2 UFC) def. Charles Rosa (14-8, 5-8 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Making his first appearance in nearly two years, Wood looked dominant in a decision win over Rosa. All three judges had it a shutout, via scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27.
Wood, 28, has fought at bantamweight previously, but he looked very comfortable at his new weight. He pressured Rosa with hard low leg kicks, and bloodied his left eye with punches in the second round. Less than five minutes in, Rosa appeared to have trouble putting weight on his lead leg, and was slow to get up after knockdowns in the second and third rounds.
Fighting out of England, Wood was considered a bright prospect earlier in his career, but some inactivity and two losses in a three-fight stretch in 2020 took away some of his steam. He improves to 5-2 with the victory, while Rosa has lost four of his last five.
Featherweights: Jonathan Pearce (13-4, 4-1 UFC) def. Makwan Amirkhani (17-8, 7-6 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
Don’t look now, but Pearce has developed into a real factor in the featherweight division.
Pearce dominated the game Amirkhani en route to a TKO victory at 4:10 of the second round. While Amirkhani had some success in the grappling early, Pearce was the superior fighter in top position, posturing up and landing big ground-and-pound shots on Amirkhani until referee Dan Movahedi stepped in to stop it.
“JSP, baby!” Pearce said in his postfight interview. “Woo!”
Amirkhani was the aggressor in the first round, trying to take things to the ground where he could work his creative choke game. But Pearce was quick with elbows to the temple when Amirkhani went for single-leg takedowns. Amirkhani was bloodied early into the fight, though he did have some submission attempts in the first.
In the second, Amirkhani seemed tired from the energy he expended in the first round. He landed some good punches on the feet, but Pearce was the fresher fighter. He took Amirkhani down, got into dominant position and poured on a barrage of offense leading to the finish.
Pearce, 30, has won four straight since moving down to featherweight in November 2020. The Tennessee product, who trains out of Fight Ready MMA in Arizona, has three finishes during that streak, too. Amirkhani, a 33-year-old Iran-born Finland resident, has dropped four of five.
Men’s flyweights: Muhammad Mokaev (8-0, 2-0 UFC) def. Charles Johnson (11-3, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Mokaev, 21, cruised to unanimous 30-27 scorecards by simply controlling Johnson against the fence. He repeatedly attempted to get Johnson to the floor but was mostly unsuccessful. Rather than break away, however, he remained in the clinch.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 23, 2022
There was an exciting suplex in the final round, and Mokaev briefly used the slam to take Johnson’s back, but the 31-year-old veteran calmly worked out of the position. According to UFC Stats, Mokaev attempted 26 total takedowns and converted 12.
It was a bit of a lackluster performance after his UFC debut in March, when he submitted Cody Durden in just 58 seconds. His record remains perfect, though. Johnson fell to 0-1 in the UFC.
Lightweights: Jai Herbert (12-4, 2-3 UFC) def. Kyle Nelson (13-5, 1-4 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Herbert, 34, gutted out a big win over Nelson on Saturday, as the English fighter has now won two of his past three matches in the UFC. Herbert’s ability to strike from distance helped him keep command of the fight throughout. Nelson, 31, drops to 1-4 in the UFC.
Women’s flyweights: Victoria Leonardo (9-5, 1-2 UFC) def. Mandy Bohm (7-2, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
In her first UFC win, Leonardo dominated in all three rounds to earn the victory over Bohm. Leonardo lost her first two matches in the UFC by TKO after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in November 2020. Bohm is now 0-2 in the UFC.
Welterweights: Nicolas Dalby (20-4-1 1 NC, 3-1 1 NC UFC) def. Claudio Silva (14-4, 5-3 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Silva came on strong early in Round 1, landing a takedown and keeping the fight on the ground. However, Dalby recovered and in Rounds 2-3 kept the fight standing and landed multiple strikes on his opponent. Dalby’s pressure wore down Silva, who fatigued in the later rounds and was less effective by the end of the match.
Dalby, 37, earned the third UFC win of his career. Silva, 39, has now lost three in a row, all by unanimous decision.