UFC London takes place this Saturday at the O2 Arena and is headlined by a pivotal heavyweight matchup between one-time Bellator champion Alexander Volkov and rising prospect Tom Aspinall. It’s the UFC’s first trip to London in three years and the card is loaded with British talent, all looking to make statements in their home country.
Let’s take a look at some of the best bets available on the card. All odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tom Aspinall to beat Alexander Volkov, -130
Volkov is a big step up in competition for Aspinall but in the end, I expect this fight to look a lot like Volkov’s bout with Ciryl Gane. Like Gane, Aspinall is a big and athletic heavyweight who moves well on his feet, and similarly, I expect him to have a decided edge in the speed category here. Volkov is huge and durable and has some craft to his game, but he’s almost certainly going to lose the first two rounds and then have to battle back. The only real concern I have here for Aspinall is that he’s never fought past the second round and this one has a good chance of making it to the fourth or fifth rounds, but that concern is minor. Aspinall is going to take a smart approach and outwork Volkov for the biggest win of his career.
McCann is coming off fighting a similar type and style to Carolina in her most recent bout against Ji Yeon Kim and I like her chances to replicate that success here. Carolina is a better striker than Kim but she’s also a bit more flat-footed and prone to simply being outworked. For all McCann’s flaws, work rate is not one of them. McCann may have to eat a couple shots at points but I like her to ugly this fight up and simply out-scrap Carolina. Normally, I’d suggest a McCann by decision bet for the added value but that hometown crowd has me worried we may see the best performance of McCann’s career so play it safe and just take the straight action.
This is a classic Striker-vs-Grappler matchup and in those sorts of contests, I tend to favor the grappler, and especially when the grappler is the better wrestler of the two. Such is the case here as Shore has proven to be an excellent MMA wrestler, timing his takedowns very well and scoring them at a 41% rate inside the UFC. Valiev is a serious threat on the feet as he throws with bad intentions, but Shore is durable and should be able to secure the takedowns he needs to get his hand raised.
Allen gets his toughest test to date as he faces Hooker in The Hangman’s return to the featherweight division. Hooker is going to have a decided size advantage in this fight, but Allen should possess the edge in speed and though Hooker will be physically larger, Allen may still be the stronger man in clinch positions. That’s the key part here as Allen’s best path to victory involves clinches and takedowns against the more dynamic striker. That style should fare even better against a Hooker who had to severely diminish himself to make 145. Ultimately, I think this is a 50/50 fight, but Allen isn’t a big finisher so you’re getting some good value on a Decision prop.
Gunnar Nelson to beat Takashi Saito by Submission, -120
It’s been over two years since Nelson last fought and over three since he won inside the UFC but “Gunni” should fix both of those this weekend. Nelson is one of the premier grapplers in the welterweight division, having had a lot of success on the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu circuit, and the UFC appears to be giving him a soft touch for his return with Saito. Saito is a solid fighter but his grappling isn’t to Nelson’s level and Saito’s last three losses have all come by way of submission. I expect this to make it number four.
The straight odds for this fight have Krylov as a comfortable favorite at -195 and while I think those odds are slightly off, the prop odds for Craig are even more enticing. Krylov is the better athlete and probably the better striker, but he has really fallen in love with his wrestling which plays right into Craig’s hands. Moreover, on the ground, Krylov frequently makes mistakes on the ground, which is what allowed Jan Blachowicz to sweep him from his back and ultimately submit Krylov. Craig has a much more dangerous guard and can even score takedowns of his own. I think Craig is a live dog outright and the extra juice from the prop bet makes this very enticing.
Parlay of the Week
Aspinall/Volkov Over 1.5 Rounds, -330
Volkov is exceedingly durable and I simply don’t envision an early stoppage win in the cards for Aspinall. On the other end of it, Aspinall’s speed advantage means Volkov is swimming upstream, especially early. Barring one perfect shot, this fight is going to make it past the 7 minutes and 30 second mark.
Topuria is the biggest betting favorite on the card for a reason. One of the brightest prospects in the sport, Topuria is excellent in all facets of MMA and while he probably could win a striking bout against Herbert, he’s more likely to use his grappling skills to outwork the English fighter.
A few years ago, Abdurakhimov would have had a good chance of winning this fight with savvy but Abdurakhimov is 40 years old and his chin appears to be fading. Pavlovich can have success with his clinch work and at range, his right hand is good enough to find the kill shot. Add in that Pavlovich is only 29 and still developing and this fight strongly favors him.
Parlay these three bets together for +105 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Molly McCann to defeat Luana Carolina by KO/TKO in Round 3, +3500
As far as long shots go, this one is enormous but if you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly. The reason I’m going with this one is in McCann’s pre-fight interviews she has made it clear that she’s looking to get her first stoppage in the UFC, and with the London crowd cheering her on, she can manage it in the final round after putting on a grueling pace for the first two.
Man, last weekend was a heartbreaker. Alex Pereira and Terrance McKinney were extremely close to getting it done for us but the MMA gods had other plans. So time to bounce back and get after this London card.
Good luck y’all, and gamble responsibly!
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