The UFC's return to London marked the first of a series of European shows in 2014. This UFC Fight Pass exclusive broadcast saw the debut of Brad Pickett at flyweight against newcomer Neil Seery, welterweight prospect Gunnar Nelson's long-awaited return, plus a key lightweight battle between Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson.
Here's a recap of the main card fights prior to the night's Alexander Gustafsson/Jimi Manuwa main event;
Guillard was accidentally kicked in the groin by Johnson about a minute into the fight, but Guillard shrugged it off and they continued on. Johnson was the aggressor early, while Guillard was surprisingly patient and picking his shots carefully. Guillard landed the best and hardest punch of the round with a right uppercut as Johnson shot in for a takedown. Johnson again went for a double leg takedown, but Guillard clinched and turned it into a hip toss.
The 2nd round was really not that exciting. Johnson was urging Guillard to be more active. Guillard was hurt and wobbled by a left hand and a knee to the chin, but Johnson did not go in for the kill. It was enough to win him the round decisively.
Round 3 saw Guillard taken down but as is his reputation he wasn't held down for long. Guillard however was just too inactive for his own good, and Johnson otherwise hurt him with elbows and punches, took him apart in the stand-up, and while Guillard complained of an eye-poke, the ref allowed the action to continue and the clock wound down to 0:00, with a clear winner in mind. Disappointing showing from Guillard, and a workmanlike outing from Johnson. It's not worth your re-watch on Fight Pass, though. Official Result: Michael Johnson (15-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC) def. Melvin Guillard (31-13-2, 2 NC MMA; 11-9, 1 NC UFC) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
These two wasted no time standing in the pocket and trading heavy shots. Seery had Pickett off balance early with a left hook, but Pickett fired back with good punches of his own before changing levels and taking Seery to the ground. Pickett was working for an arm-triangle but Seery prevented Pickett from getting to side control for more leverage on the choke. Seery eventually scrambled to his feet and scored with a few strikes and an uppercut to end the round.
Seery was arguably the better boxer in round 2, and Pickett was clearly affected by the Irishman's counter-punching game. Kicks and knees were nowhere to be found, and with Seery winning the round, Pickett scored another takedown (having been stuffed twice earlier), and finished strong with hard ground-and-pound.
Pickett and Seery continued to slug away, with Seery cracking Pickett with a hard 1-2 combination. An eye poke early in the 3rd put the fight to a temporary halt, but replays showed that Pickett was "punched" in the eye and it could've turned into disaster for the Englishman. Both men showed iron chins in an action-packed thriller. Another takedown from Pickett led to him going for side control and an arm-triangle, but Seery again thwarted his attempts and got back to an upright position with about a minute left in the fight. Pickett sealed the deal with one more takedown and really that was the difference between these two. Great fight and great showing by Seery in a losing effort. Official Decision: Brad Pickett (24-8 MMA, 6-3 UFC) def. Neil Seery (13-10 by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Akhmedov started out with a few body kicks, leg kicks, and punches with intent to score a KO. Nelson patiently waited for about a minute and then sprung into action. He landed a clean straight right hand, took Akhmedov down and immediately advanced to full mount. Nelson just completely dominated Akhmedov with short, punishing elbows, all whilst maintaining mount and preventing Akhmedov from hip escaping. Nelson then finished the job with a guillotine choke and an instant tap from the Russian. Sensational performance by Gunnar Nelson, who improves to 3-0 in the UFC while Akhmedov falls to 1-1. Official Result: Gunnar Nelson (12-0-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) def. Omari Akhmedov (12-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) via submission (guillotine choke), 4:36, round 1.