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UFC London: Fight Preview

The UFC is returning to London where a handful of mixed martial artists from the UK will take center stage during a stacked Fight Night card with some of the UK’s best. Saturdays fight card features 14 bouts with a combined total of 11 fighters representing England.

The Main Event

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:10pm PDT

           Headlining a superb fight card is Liverpool’s own Darren “The Gorilla” Till (17-1-1) who was riding a massive hype train but is coming off his lone loss from then-champ Tyron Woodley, in September. Across from Till will be an opponent who has more than twice the amount of fights and experience than he does. Making the walk to the octagon for the first time since November 2017 will be none other than Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (32-13-0-) in a Main Event that is looking like a favorite for Fight of The Night.

           Both fighters possess nearly the same reach and height; the biggest difference is that Till is 8 years younger than Masvidal. The age gap is really evident when you take into account their total amount of fight differences. However, the fight experience could be nullified when you take into account that Till will have his home crowd behind him and a confidence that is second to none, when it comes to self-belief. That same confidence however took part of the blame for his loss against Tyron. Darren claimed he came into the fight over-confident and it ultimately led to his demise in his fight for the title. That loss may have been part of a fortunate lesson that needed to be learned.  Darren Till has gone about this fight week with a calmer demeanor. Although that doesn’t mean that his self-belief and confidence has been rattled. It seems based on numerous interviews leading up to the fight that he’s learning to channel his confidence and by doing so hopefully he goes out and delivers one of his best performances to-date. For Jorge Masvidal it’s about “fighting the best people at this point of (his) career”. Jorge wants to fight the people that fighters are scared to step foot in the octagon with.  Although Jorge was absent from the octagon in 2018, he had a 2017 that featured back-to-back losses against Demian Maia and “Wonderboy” Thompson. Taking all of 2018 away from the octagon is something he claims was beneficial to get away from everything and clear his mind. So when it was time to get back to work and train for Till he had gained a renewed focus.

            Something to keep an eye on is the fact that Masvidal hasn’t suffered a KO loss in nearly a decade. So if Till plans to change that he better have his emotions in check. Coming out too aggressive against Masvidal could spell the beginning of the end fast.  However, if Till has taken the lesson in losing and matured as a fighter then the Liverpool fighter may be in for another run at the title by making a huge statement and finishing Masvidal. For both fighters though the title shot may run through the “ Funky” one. Ben Askren is expected to be cage side as he’s let it be known that he wants the winner of this fight.  By the looks of things though he may be rooting for the hometown boy; which would set up a mega-fight; possibly for a number one contender spot. So who ever gets their hand raised in the main event wont have to look to far for their next opponent because chances are he’ll be looking right back at them.

The Co-Main Event

A post shared by Gunnar Nelson (@gunninelson) on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:49am PDT

           In the co-main event we have two men who are out to prove something. Leon “Rocky” Edward (16-3-0) vs. Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson (17-3-1) is such an important fight; in regards to what a win does for either fighter. Leon is on a 6 fight win streak and hasn’t lost since the end of 2015 when he suffered his only defeat in the UFC to the hand of recently crowned champ, Kamaru Usman. As for his opponent, they may have very similar records but Gunni is actually coming off a huge submission win against Charles “Cowboy” Oliveira and is a winner of 4 of his last 6 fights.

           Leon Edwards has made it clear as day that he is upset that he is not in the main event. “Rocky” has consistently claimed his case and been public about fighting both of the men in the main event, over the years. According to him he was close to a fight with Masvidal on the December PPV card that featured Jon Jones, but the fight fell through. Leon feels a victory over Nelson should not only open the eyes of the division but it should be rewarded with a fight against the winner in the main event. Although that’s how it would play out in his vision, he isn’t necessarily blind to the fact that many believe Ben Askren will fight the winner in the main event and he isn’t happy about it. Regardless, he stands firm in his belief that a win against Nelson will be the first step followed by a fight with the winner of Masvidal v. Till and then lead to a rematch against Usman for his belt.

        As for Gunnar Nelson, most have probably seen him this week due to a viral video that has been all over twitter. The video is basically the opposite of a Training Montage out of a Rocky Film. You see Gunnar going full on diva mode as he performs various stretches to the tune of the hit song “Call On Me” by Eric Prydz.

An inside look at @GunniNelson's training camp 😂 #UFCLondon — UFC (@ufc) March 11, 2019

Don’t let the man in that video fool you though because it’s the same person who made Oliveira tap out. Prior to that, he left him a bloody mess by slicing him up with devastating elbows before taking his back. Leon has constantly talked this week about what he wants to happen once he gets past Nelson, only problem is he hasn’t got past him. Nelson has been known to get off to slow starts; a problem that he knows has got him into trouble especially in fights that he has suffered losses in. A fast start will be key for Nelson especially if he can get the fight on the ground sooner rather than later.  Who ever comes out with their hand raised will find themselves one step closer to where they think they should be and possibly setting up a fight with someone ranked inside the top 6 of the division.

Unknown MMA’s Fight to Watch

           In one of the UFC’s featured bouts, they have a key matchup between a pair of 29-year-old light heavyweights. Volkan is a formal title challenger who is coming off two losses and the other is Reyes, an undefeated prospect who many believe may present a challenge to the current champion. Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (15-3-0) vs. Dominic ”The Devastator” Reyes (10-0-0) is a critical match up and regardless of what either has done in the past the only thing that will matter going forward is who gets their hand raised putting themselves a fight or two away from a shot at the champ. Either Volkan will prove to waste “No Time” and be back to form or will his time as a light heavyweight contender be up and belong to Reyes?

A post shared by Volkan Oezdemir (@volkan_oezdemir) on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:16pm PDT

The O2 Arena in London will be host to some of the premier mixed martial artists in the UFC and come Saturday night some will take the next step in their career. Be sure to catch all the action live on ESPN+.

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