UFC London: Five takeaways from Saturday’s entertaining event

Alexander-Volkov-Getty-FTR-031818
(Getty Pictures)

As is usually the case, Saturday’s UFC Battle Move event from London’s O2 Area become an entertaining, eventful affair full with historic finishes, sudden outcomes and quite a lot of moments that deserve extra dialogue.

Considerably missed within the run-as much as the weekend, the event served as a reminder that whereas the UFC schedule may be daunting and the names aren’t all the time acquainted or prime-10 fixtures, each struggle card carries the potential to have an effect and more often than not, the motion contained in the Octagon goes to be value tuning in for.

Right here’s a take a look at 5 key takeaways from Saturday’s event in London.

The revolution continues

The most important storyline over the preliminary eight occasions of 2018 has been the emergence of recent names and new contenders and that continued this previous weekend in England.

In the primary event, 29-yr-previous heavyweight Alexander Volkov weathered the grappling advances of former champion Fabricio Werdum for 3 rounds earlier than ending the Brazilian veteran with a critical of massive photographs early within the fourth.

One battle earlier, Jan Blachowicz drew degree in his private collection with perennial mild heavyweight contender Jimi Manuwa, persevering with his resurgence to determine himself as a recent contender within the 205-pound ranks.

Every of those bouts resulted in a brand new identify rising in divisions which might be desperately in want of turnover. Even when Blachowicz and Manuwa run it again a 3rd time and Manuwa finally ends up profitable the collection, everybody got here away from Saturday’s event enthusiastic about seeing the trilogy struggle. That is a serious constructive provided that getting individuals enthusiastic about mild heavyweight contests that don’t contain Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier has been a problem.

As for the primary event, Volkov now joins Curtis Blaydes and Tai Tuivasa as heavyweight skills underneath the age of 30 who’ve constructed some critical momentum over the primary three months of the yr. The latter two have already been tabbed to compete at UFC 225 in Chicago later this summer time within the largest fights of their respective careers — Blaydes is about to face Alistair Overeem, whereas Tuivasa meets Andrei Arlovski — and Volkov ought to get an analogous alternative this summer time as properly.

For the primary time in years, heavyweight doesn’t really feel stale and acquainted. There’s life within the division once more and that power ought to produce pleasure because the yr continues to roll on.

Darren Until’s homecoming

Again in October, Darren Until scored the most important win of his profession when he walked into the Octagon and ran by means of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in Poland. It was a star-making flip that had everybody buzzing concerning the 20-one thing “Scouser,” who turned a should-see attraction in that second.

Five months later, Until’s encore nonetheless wasn’t booked and whereas everybody was nonetheless eager on seeing him compete towards a prime expertise subsequent trip, the electrical energy his win over Cerrone produced had pale. He ought to have been on Saturday’s event in London — he in all probability ought to have been headlining, truthfully — however it didn’t occur and it felt fairly disappointing.

All that was washed away and changed with a renewed sense of anticipation on Friday when Until introduced he would headline the UFC’s first foray to his hometown of Liverpool later this Spring. The next day, the promotion doubled-down on the event announcement, with Until delivering a top quality promo in the course of the broadcast that prompted everybody to circle Might 27 on their calendars.

That is the type of factor the UFC must do extra of: put burgeoning stars of their residence markets and provides them each alternative to turn out to be the most important draw potential.

It labored with Conor in Dublin, Stipe Miocic has by no means been cheered like he was in Cleveland at UFC 203 and each event in Brazil carries a unique type of vibe as a result of partisan crowds and “Us vs. Them” atmospheres all the time give an event a extra necessary really feel. UFC Liverpool shall be no totally different and if Until emerges victorious, the promotion won’t solely have a brand new welterweight contender on its arms, however a brand new star succesful to carrying the torch for the Bitish market as an entire as properly.

Final-second finishes

Earlier than Saturday night in London, there had solely been one struggle in UFC historical past that ended within the ultimate second of the ultimate spherical: Demetrious Johnson’s UFC 186 win over Kyoji Horiguchi in Montreal.

After Saturday, there are three.

Paul Craig pulled a rabbit out of his hat towards Magomed Ankalaev, catching a slick triangle and securing the faucet with a second left on the clock to show a positive-hearth defeat into a shocking victory. What’s extra is that Craig entered on a two-battle dropping streak and this was the ultimate bout of his present contract, so in all probability, the Scottish mild heavyweight saved himself from getting launched — or not being re-signed — by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

A number of fights later, Leon Edwards completed the feat as properly, wrapping up what was already set to be his fifth-straight victory with a final-second stoppage towards Peter Sobotta. One of the crucial unheralded skills on the roster, Edwards made positive to take advantage of his win by difficult Until, who was sitting cageside, to an All-England battle in Liverpool.

Stuff like that is a part of why we love this sport — there isn’t any dribbling out the clock or taking a knee; these athletes virtually all the time compete by means of the ultimate horn and infrequently, one thing particular occurs.

Danny Henry: Prospect Killer

A lot of the speak concerning the featherweight bout between Henry and Hakeem Dawodu within the lead-as much as Battle Night time centered on the debuting Canadian, a extremely-touted kickboxer with lofty ambitions who educated for the competition at SBG Eire.

It took Henry all of 39 seconds handy Dawodu his first skilled loss and established himself as one to observe within the one hundred forty five-pound weight class going ahead.

Proper out of the chute, the rangy Scotsman related with a proper hand that took Dawodu’s legs out from underneath him and from there, Henry pounced, attacking with a guillotine choke and modifying his grip via a collection of scrambles earlier than choking out the Canadian newcomer.

Now 2-zero within the UFC and the proprietor of a 5-struggle profitable streak general, Henry delivered a pair of spectacular performances and pulled of consecutive upsets via his first two Octagon appearances. Featherweight is flush with expertise and boasts a ton of rising expertise, however Henry has confirmed that he deserves to be thought-about amongst that group and is somebody struggle followers ought to maintain an in depth eye within the second half of 2018.

By no means thoughts the bollocks

Saturday’s event in London didn’t get a lot pre-battle hype – it was a Battle Cross present coming after every week off and following a stretch of 24 occasions in 26 weeks courting again to the beginning of September 2017. It was a type of exhibits individuals checked out with low expectations and appeared to be pleasantly stunned with because the night time drew to an in depth.

Like Nate Diaz, I used to be not stunned (expletive deleted) as a result of as I requested an extended-time follower on Twitter simply earlier than the primary card kicked off, when are fights not enjoyable?

Positive, there are some occasions which are a slog and also you get a pair tepid affairs on nearly each card, however general, watching expert, educated athletes step into an eight-sided enclosure the place they battle it out is often fairly entertaining and it’s all the time shocking to me when so many individuals are stunned by these smaller exhibits delivering in spades.

You don’t want massive names to have nice fights.

I might have thought individuals would have figured that out by now.