Updated: Jul 21
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Traveling to London off the back of a 5th straight positive card (+5.64u), I’ve been waiting for this card for weeks. A few personal favorites, plenty of rising stars like Tom Aspinall and Paddy Pimblett compliment meteoric rises like Chris Curtis on what should be a stacked main card. Below I bring my analysis of each fight with a play per usual. Lets get rolling!
Claudio Silva vs Nicolas Dalby (-250)
We begin in London with two fighters well past their primes. Their combined records may be 33-7-1 but their ages combine to 76 and are both coming off of losses. Silva is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard who has won 9 of his 14 fights by submission, while Dalby likes to keep to the feet and touch people up on his way to a decision victory. Claudio Silva struggled getting the fight to the mat in his last outing as he couldn’t complete his takedowns and looked visibly slow on the ground, leading to a Court McGee domination. Dalby didn’t look much better as he was immediately taken down by Tim Means (though he got up after 3 minutes) and lost by decision as well. Dalby has struggled historically with his takedown defense and given how good Silva is on the mat I think that if he gets it there once that could be the end. Honestly, both of these fighters will be retiring soon and I would stay away but there’s too much value on Silva by submission.
Pick: Silva by Submission +550 (.25u)
Farah Hannoun - MMAJunkie
Mandy Bohm vs Victoria Leonardo (+115)
From men in their late 30s to women in their early 30s, we get another underwhelming fight that will make viewers impatiently look towards the fireworks that come soon. Mandy Bohm has a 7 inch reach advantage that she doesn’t use at all. Her boxing is non-existent and her striking is purely leg kicks to the body and legs. She keeps her hands low and her grappling is underwhelming, highlighted by going 0-4 on takedown attempts and getting knocked down twice in her last fight. Victoria Leonardo is no top class Mixed Martial Artist, but she looked much better in her last fight than Bohm even though she got run over by a supremely talented Melissa Gatto. She has good scrambling on the ground and showed excellent submission defense against Gatto. On the feet her boxing defense is poor but it’s still a level above Bohm. Leonardo throws more volume and I believe between that and superior grappling the dog will get it done here on the cards.
Pick: Leonardo +115 (1.5u)
Jai Herbert vs Kyle Nelson (+225)
Herbert is one of many fighters to have fought on March’s UFC London card that is back again. In that fight he got viciously knocked out by Ilia Topuria, but honestly showed well. He nearly knocked Topuria out with a picture perfect head kick and later with a knee but those Georgians are built different. Herbert’s biggest fault is his striking defense, all he wants to do is throw down and doesn’t care if he gets knocked out. He throws kicks to all 3 levels and has lightning quick hands on the feet. Only 1 of his 15 fights has gone to decision and I expect the same to be had here as he goes against a much softer opponent this go round. Nelson is a decent wrestler but has a very negative striking differential and is on the back of a 2-year layoff. This feels like a matchmaking layup for Herbert to land a massive knockout in front of his home nation.
Pick: Herbert by KO/TKO -110 (1u)
Jeff Bottari - Zuffa LLC
Muhammed Mokaev vs Charles Johnson (+360)
I’m not going to break this fight down too much. Mokaev is one of the top tier prospects the UFC has and at only 21-years-old has a 23-0 amateur record and 7-0 professional record. He’s lightning quick and is a phenomenal grappler that exhausts the opposition as the fight wears on. A recent switch to American Top Team should help his striking against a debuting 31-year-old Charles Johnson. Johnson has the stamina to tire out most opponents but his best weapon is his kicks which he won’t be able to use against Mokaev because he’ll be taken down immediately. Expect Mokaev to roll here and possibly get an early submission.
Pick: Mokaev ITD -120 (0.5u), u2.5 -125 (.5u)
Farah Hannoun - MMAJunkie
Makwan Amirkhani vs Jonathan Pearce (-210)
Makwan has lost 4 of his last 6 fights to some absolute legends (Barbosa, Burgos) and is only 7-5 in the UFC. He’s piss poor on the feet averaging only 1.3 strikes per minute, but gets his bread buttered on the ground, finishing 12 of his 17 wins by submission. His stamina saps quickly which doesn’t bode well against Pearce who showed in his fight against Morales that he can wrestle his heart out. He’s the much more adept striker on the feet and if he can avoid the early submission attempts by Amirkhani he should walk to a victory here.
Pick: Amirkhani by Sub +375 (.25u) & Pearce -210 (1u)
Marc Diakiese vs Damir Hadzovic (+270)
Marc Diakiese is coming off one of the most unique fights in his career, completing 11 takedowns in a dominant win over Viacheslav Borshchev. He’s exemplified phenomenal cardio and excellent scrambling to keep the advantageous position and what I like the most about Diakiese is that he continues to keep adding wrinkles to his game. He famously knocked Teemu Packalen out 30 seconds into his 3rd UFC fight and has had a mixed bag since then but it’s been against top tier competition. Some of his losses are to Nasrat Haqparast, Dan Hooker, and Rafael Fiziev so it’s not like he’s disappointing against lesser competition. The same can’t be said for Hadzovic whose best competition in the UFC has been Renato Moicano in 2020 where he was choked out 44 seconds into the fight. He doesn’t impress me on the feet and his wrestling is average. He’s shown good endurance but sadly that doesn’t score.
Pick: o2.5 -125 (0.5u) & Diakiese by Dec +165 (0.5u)
Mason Jones vs Ludovit Klein (+270)
L’udovit Klein is a fighter’s fighter. He wants to get in the octagon as much as possible, winning his only 2 short-notice fights and is hoping to notch his 3rd here. Klein boasts phenomenal cardio and consistently pushes forward on the feet. He utilizes kicks well within combinations and strikes from awkward angles which could surprise Jones considering he keeps his hands down far too often and accepts damage. Jones on the flip side has dominant offensive wrestling and much like Klein uses his pace and pressure to wear opponents down. He doesn’t move his head well but should be able to endlessly wrestle Klein for 15 minutes. If Klein can stuff the first few takedowns and put his stamp early on in this fight he could grow and win the battle on the feet. I’ll take the flier that he does.
Pick: Klein +270 (0.75u)
Paul Craig vs Volkan Oezdemir (-165)
The first fight on the main card might be the most oil and water matchup of the year. If you know anything about Paul Craig you’d know he would rather start the fight from the ground where he’s logged 14 wins by submission, including 4 (somewhat) straight. Oezdemir is the opposite. A powerful yet hesitant striker with ever-improving takedown defense, if Volkan can keep this fight on the feet he has a clear path to victory. Unfortunately for his sake I don’t believe he’s the same fighter he used to be and once Craig gets it to the ground he’ll be exposed. Expect Craig to take the small upset comfortably by the end.
Pick: Craig +135 (1.5u)
Molly McCann vs Hannah Goldy (+325)
If there’s ever a fan favorite that is more juiced than she should be it’s Molly McCann. Molly opened as a -200 favorite and is now up to a -450 due to the push from Barstool fans and that exciting scouse accent people have gravitated to. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in her ability. Her cardio, boxing, aggression and takedowns are phenomenal, but Goldy is no slouch. She strikes in volume and has pop on the end of her shots. The caveat is that Goldy has only fought twice in the past 3 years and didn’t look too great against lesser competition. I think this fight stays on the feet for the majority of the 15 minutes and Molly gets it done in front of the English crowd, just probably not as exciting as it was last time out. Expect Molly to press forward and try to get the finish but fall just short as Goldy keeps the fight respectable.
Pick: McCann by Decision -125 (1u)
Chris Unger - Zuffa LLC
Nikita Krylov vs Alexander Gustafsson (+154)
As fantastic as both of these fighters are in the grand scheme of light heavyweights in the UFC, Nikita Krylov and Alexander Gustafsson are only a combined 18-15 in the UFC. Gustafsson in particular hasn’t logged a UFC win since beating Glover Teixeira in round 5 back in 2017. He’s lost to Jon Jones, Anthony Smith, and Fabricio Werdum since then all by finish and it’s looked as bleak as you’d imagine. Krylov is coming off the aforementioned submission loss to Paul Craig where he nearly secured a stoppage of his own, and before that lost to Magomed Ankalaev by decision. He’s looked great in his last two fights until he decides to take the fight to where his opponent is best. I think he still has a lot of gas left in his tank whereas Gustafsson is running on fumes. It’s juicy but I’ll lay it with Nikita Krylov for a unit.
Pick: Krylov -182 (1u)
Paddy Pimblett vs Jordan Leavitt (+212)
Paddy (and Molly) have taken the McGregor course of self-marketing in the UFC game because the two of them have exploded onto the scene, having partnered with Barstool Sports to expand their reach and grow their fanbase. All of that fame and hype comes back to London as Paddy comes to face “The Monkey King” in Jordan Leavitt, who should give him a fantastic grappling test on Saturday. As high as that jiu-jitsu is in both camps, they get it done in different ways. Leavitt is much more of a position over submission fighter who uses awkward takedowns to then wear on the opposition. Paddy takes risks on the feet and the mat to try and finish the fight however possible. Given how good both of these guys are in wrestling and jiu jitsu I think there’s a good chance they cancel each other out and we get three rounds of striking where Paddy racks up the points. I’ll take the over and Paddy by decision.
Pick: o1.5 -135 (1u) & Paddy by Decision +300 (.5u)
Kieran Cleeves / PA Images
Jack Hermansson vs Chris Curtis (-110)
The meteoric rise for Chris Curtis has led him from fighting in the XMMA nearly 365 days ago to the co-main event of UFC London this Saturday. He started by finishing Phil Hawes and Brendan Allen then most recently beat Rodolfo Vieira decisively. He steps in on short notice for Darren Till to take on a struggling Hermansson. While his record doesn’t look good it’s misleading because he’s fighting the top of the division. He’s lost 4 of 6 but the list goes Cannonier, Gastelum, Vettori, Shahbazyan, Chimaev, and Strickland. Without fighting for the belt, that’s the best of the best at middleweight. This fight is intriguing from a matchmaking perspective because Hermansson should have the decisive wrestling and BJJ advantage going in, but Curtis will have the power and striking advantage on the feet. If Curtis can stuff early takedowns from Hermansson and keep this fight at range he might be able to get this done. Sadly for the feel-good story, I don’t think he does. Hermansson is getting -110 as an experienced and durable veteran that has all of the savvy on the ground to end this fight relatively quickly.
Pick: Hermansson -110 (2u)
Esther Lin - MMA Fighting
Curtis Blaydes vs Tom Aspinall (-130)
Curtis “Razor” Blaydes is hoping to finally get his shot at the Heavyweight Championship after being set back due to a vintage uppercut to Derrick Lewis back in 2021. Since then he’s won easily against Rozenstruik, more recently Chris Daukus and it’s his takedowns that have gotten it done as usual. Tom Aspinall has solid wrestling, but where Blaydes uses his ground and pound on the mat, Aspinall utilizes his BJJ. Aspinall is the much more unproven commodity but has shown in his short time that his striking, BJJ, and fight IQ is top tier. I believe that Blaydes has seen every bit of quality that Aspinall contains throughout his career and if it weren’t for Francis Ngannou (x2) and Derrick Lewis’ unparalleled power he would be undefeated in the UFC. Expect disappointment in London as Aspinall gets taken to deeper waters than he’s ever been to.
Pick: Blaydes +110 (2u)
Jeff Bottari - Zuffa LLC