UFC London 2023: 5 potential fights for March
The UFC has been to London twice this year. The first event in March was a resounding success and produced what Dana White called “the greatest Fight Night in UFC history”. Headlining Tom Aspinal versus Alexander Volkovthe show served as a springboard for peripheral British talent in the promotion, including Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblet and Molly McCann. Full of finishes and action – every winning fighter on the map received a performance bonus.
The UFC sought to chart a new course for the hype by quickly following it up with another event in July. And speaking as someone who shelled out thousands to attend, that was a disappointment. Boring fights, disappointing game plans and a weird injury to top it off. While it has no shortage of entertaining moments, it failed to replicate the ballyhoo of its predecessor.
Despite the flop of their last attempt, the UFC decided to continue their efforts in the UK. And with Leon Edwards Crowned welterweight champion Dana White has promised a return to England in early 2023. Rumors have already started that the rematch for that welterweight title will be held at a pay-per-view stadium in March. Below are some possible matches that we might see on the map.
England deserve it. Leon deserves it
Dana is 𝑷𝑼𝑴𝑷𝑬𝑫. We are 𝑷𝑼𝑴𝑷𝑬𝑫. @danawhite confirms the UFC will return to the UK in 2023 for a MEGA show… and @KChimaev will be on the map 😱#UFC280 | Saturday, 7 p.m. | BT Sport ticket office pic.twitter.com/imfTORCS6z
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 21, 2022
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3
Although there are a few British fighters close to a shot in their respective weight classes, and a certain person who can certainly draw the required crowd, Leon Edwards is the only UK champion. Nobody has more sense to headline this show than the welterweight king.
Edwards dethroned longtime defending champion Kamaru Usman in August with a sensational header in the final round. He was behind for the majority of the fight and was only a minute away from losing by decision. The longevity of Usman’s run, coupled with the closeness of their fight, makes a rematch a near certainty.
Arnold Allen vs. Max Holloway
After losing all three fights in their trilogy, it seems unlikely Max Holloway will get another title shot as long as Alexander Volkanovski remains the featherweight champion. This leaves him in a gatekeeper position: a final test for any potential candidate. And what a difficult test it will be for Arnold Allen.
Alexander Volkanovski will compete for the lightweight title around this time; an opportune scenario for the promotion to set up an interim title match in his absence. Allen could kick his opponents as the UFC will want a big British fight to co-headline this potential pay-per-view – and with Tom Aspinall likely still recovering from his catastrophic knee injury – a fight between these two could slide up this card.
Paddy Pimblet vs. Tony Ferguson
Paddy Pimblett has become one of the biggest stars in the UFC since his debut in 2021. If the intention is to fill a stadium, you can expect him to be part of the plans. Now three fights undefeated, Pimblett already has a booking against Jared Gordon in December at UFC 282. A win will have fans demanding he fight a ranked opponent. But if he loses, he will probably still play a role on this card.
Assume, for matchmaking purposes, that he overtakes Gordon. Pimblett’s monumental impact can grant him plot armor when fighting for a rank. And the highest ranked fight in the division is Tony Ferguson. Few reach the absolute overshoot levels we see from El Cucoy without being cut from the promotion, but he remains listed as the fourteenth best at 155 pounds. Don’t be surprised if this fight is discussed regardless of the outcome in December.
Paddy The Baddy is back!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) October 22, 2022
Tom Aspinall vs. Curtis Blaydes 2
The headliners of the second London event of 2022 could be paired again if Tom Aspinal is fighting fit again in March. The fight had huge implications in the murky waters of the heavyweight title picture, and a strong conclusion may be needed to clarify the order of the queue for a championship shot.
The first fight between the two ended after just fifteen seconds when Aspinall tore his MCL and meniscus, and damaged his ACL. Unfortunately, recovery time on such major injuries will likely take him well past March. Even if it can’t happen here, these two will meet at some point in the near future.
Muhammed Mokaev vs Alex Perez
Mohammed Mokayev will have to move up the ranks quickly if he wants to fulfill his desire to beat Jon Jones’ long-standing record of being the youngest UFC champion. He broke into the top fifteen with his last win and hasn’t missed a call since. Next to matt schnell and Brandon Royvala target is the former fifth-ranked title challenger Alex Perez.
Perez recently returned from a two-year layoff to be submitted by Alexander Pantoja in the first round. If he intends to get back to winning ways and make a statement in the division, then knocking out the most high-profile prospect at flyweight could be a good way to do it. With two straight losses, Perez will likely fight down in his next fight anyway. The UFC lately hasn’t been shy about allowing fighters to take huge leaps in competition if they think they can handle it. Mokaev claimed he could.