Usually, European UFC cards are chuck full of middling fights most fight fans are lukewarm about – at best – with the main event being the only contest that has meaning. It could be argued the card from Prague last month is a perfect example of that general makeup. Fortunately for all of us fight fans, UFC London is breaking the mold. The main event between Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal is awesome. So is the co-main event with Leon Edwards and Gunnar Nelson. That contest is good enough it would probably headline most other European cards. Even Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes looks like it could be a potential headliner in Europe. Yeah… this card is pretty damn good.
The main card begins on ESPN+ at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT on Saturday.
You like the card, but you’ve been wrong before.
I’m not going to pretend like I’m impervious to predicting what proves to be a card worth watching. That’s the thing about predictions: they don’t always come true. Otherwise, I’d be a fortune teller.
Well, if you’re to be trusted, you’ll tell us what makes Edwards-Nelson so awesome.
There are many who aren’t too excited about Edwards. The prevailing narrative is that Edwards has developed into a grinding wrestler. While there is some truth to that, the prevalent word in that last sentence is developed. Edwards’ rep upon entering the UFC was that of an explosive KO artist. Have you ever seen his eight-second KO of Seth Baczynski? Yeah, Edwards blasted him into another dimension. As he showed in his last contest with Donald Cerrone, Edwards still possesses the ability to stand and trade with high efficiency. In fact, his ability to secure takedowns makes his standup that much more effective.
What might attract viewers to this contest is Edwards’ opponent should ensure we see the more exciting version of Edwards given Nelson’s grappling prowess, securing all but one of his eight UFC victories via submission. If Nelson can find his opponent’s back, it’s almost assuredly a wrap. What has been concerning about Nelson has been his tendency to be manhandled by prodigious wrestlers in addition to his long bouts of inactivity. While the latter is still a concern, he showed an improved wrestling game in his most recent contest with Alex Oliveira. Plus, Nelson’s karateka background has made for several explosive collisions on the feet. Yeah, there’s plenty to like about his contest with Edwards.
Fair enough. What about Oezdemir-Reyes?
While the hype on Oezdemir has cooled considerably with his two consecutive losses, the excitement around Reyes is higher than it has been for anyone this side of Johnny Walker at 205. The former all-conference college football player is a fantastic athlete and looks like he might be a challenger for Jon Jones belt before the end of the year. The major question most had about his was how he would perform beyond the first round as he had only left the first just once before last fall. He looked pretty damn good in the third round against Ovince Saint Preux, leaving critics to nitpick at this point.
To be fair to Oezdemir, it isn’t like he was losing to chumps either. Daniel Cormier is an all-time great and Anthony Smith challenged for a title earlier this month. Oezdemir is still a dangerous striker with serious short-range power. Y’all remember what he did to Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa, right? He took care of them in a combined 70 seconds. However, Oezdemir’s gas tank was exposed in his two losses. Given Oezdemir’s tendency to look for the finish in a hurry, don’t expect this to go the distance.
Alright, so those contests are high stakes in addition to a high probability for a finish. What about the rest of the main card?
If there is one name to watch out for in the early main card scraps, look out for Nathaniel Wood. Two fights into his UFC career and he’s picked up a pair of submission wins after falling behind early. However, Johnny Eduardo and Andre Ewell are hardly known for their wrestling, making it easy for Wood to find the opening he was looking for. His opponent, Jose Quinonez, is a massive bantamweight with a grinding style. Nonetheless, it will be considered an upset if Quinonez finds a way to come out on top, even if he comes into the contest with a four-fight win streak of his own.
Claudio Silva is more of a feel-good story than he is an exciting fighter, returning to the UFC last spring after three-and-a-half years away due to a variety of issues, including injury. His victory over Nordine Taleb was a pleasant surprise few saw coming. However, the Brazilian grappler will have his hands full with former professional boxer Danny Roberts. Roberts has surprised many with his submission game off his back, but it would probably the biggest upset of the night if the Brit is able to submit Silva. Roberts best path to victory is outboxing him, but Silva has been successful in dirtying up his fights.
To open the card, we get a middleweight bout that doesn’t have high stakes. In fact, both Jack Marshman and John Phillips are riding two-fight losing streaks. However, if you enjoy a good old-fashioned slobber knocker, this is the fight for you. Neither Welshman has even attempted a takedown, much less landed one, in their UFC careers. They aren’t exactly surgically technical on the feet either, but they have good chins and hit hard as hell. It should be a great way to kick off the main card.
Edwards via decision
Reyes via TKO of RD1
Wood via decision
Silva via decision
Marshman via TKO of RD2