Going over the action booked for the prelims on this weekends UFC London card, I was hoping to find a few gems that would be worth highlighting. What I found was several fighters who offered a lot of promise at one point in their UFC career, but have seen their potentially rising star come crashing back down to the earth. I don’t know if I’d all these contests gems, but I do believe I can say they were once performers the UFC would look to feature. Perhaps UFC London will be an opportunity to for those former upstarts to reignite the light that many saw in them. Is it worth checking out? Eh… I’ll let you decide.
The prelims begin on ESPN+ at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT on Saturday.
Whose lights aren’t burning quite so bright?
The oldest of those fighters I’m referring to would be 27-year old Tom Breese. Yeah, hardly old. Though he looked magnificent when he moved to middleweight, demolishing Dan Kelly, that is his lone appearance since his loss to Sean Strickland in June of 2016. It’s hard to remind the fans just how good you are when they never see you in action. He has a tough test in upstart Ian Heinisch, who secured an impressive victory over veteran middleweight Cezar Ferreira. Perhaps we have a new up-and-comer on our hands in Heinisch, even if the American is already 30-years old….
Marc Diakiese came into the UFC as an undefeated 23-year old. He reeled off three straight victories, including a brutal 30 second demolishing of Teemu Packalen. Once opponents figured him out, Diakiese has struggled to make adjustments, resulting in three losses. You’d think the UFC would drop his level of competition as a result. Instead, he gets Joe Duffy, one of four men to defeat Conor McGregor. Diakiese has the physical tools to win. However, as we all know, that isn’t the end all, be all. Diakiese will need to return to his wrestling roots if he hopes to take down Duffy, a former professional boxer.
Next, we come to Arnold Allen. Allen has yet to lose in the UFC, but he’s suffered from the same issue that has plagued Breese: inactivity. Part of that has to do with visa issues, perhaps stemming back to a public brawl in December 2016 in which he plead guilty to. Fighting just once a year since 2015, Allen is about as physically impressive as it gets based on an eye test. He’s not a bad wrestler either. Out of those looking to reignite their career, he has the easiest test in former lightweight Jordan Rinaldi. Unless the time off has negatively affected him – and it hasn’t in the past – Allen shouldn’t have any problems with Rinaldi.
Last, but not least, is Danny Henry, yet another fighter who has been suffering from inactivity. Owner of an impressive submission win over fellow prospect Hakeem Dawodu, Henry is all action, all the time. His opponent, Dan Ige, can be that fighter too with the right opponent. Henry is the right opponent. Out of all the preliminary fights, this is the favorite for FOTN.
Wait… wouldn’t any Gokhan Saki fight be amongst the favorites for FOTN?
That’s true, but Saki isn’t on this card anymore, pulling out with injury about two weeks ago. It’s a shame as his scheduled opponent, Saparbeg Safarov, would have been more than willing to engage with the former kickboxing champion. Safarov is still on the card, but his new opponent, Nick Negumereanu, is very much a mystery due to his lack of quality opposition on the regional scene. If we can’t gleam too much from Negumereanu’s past opposition, he does appear to be a superior athlete at the very least. Then again, Safarov doesn’t set a high bar.
Is there anything else worth paying attention to?
Eh… only if you’re amongst the hardest of the hardcore. Or as my colleagues Zane Simon and Connor Ruebusch would say, a shit-eating wild man.
Mike Grundy is making his UFC debut against Nad Narimani. Grundy had a long wrestling career before transitioning into MMA. At 32, it’ll be tough for him to climb the ladder. It isn’t like Narimani is an easy test either. If he can’t get past Narimani, don’t expect him to hang around the organization too long.
Priscila Cachoeira is best known for being on the receiving end of one of the most brutal beatdowns in UFC history at the hands of Valentina Shevchenko. She gets a more appropriate test against striker Molly McCann, who came up short in her UFC debut last year as well. If you’re interested in potentially sloppy brawls, this could be fun.
Allen via Decision
Duffy via TKO of RD3
Safarov via Decision
Breese via Decision
Henry via Decision
McCann via TKO of RD2
Narimani via Decision