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UFC London: Blaydes vs. Aspinall staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC London.

UFC heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall.
UFC heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall.
Photo by Kieran Riley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for UFC London, and we are evenly split on the main event between Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall. As for the co-main event, only Dayne Fox is picking top-10 ranked Jack Hermansson to take care of short notice opponent Chris Curtis. The only unanimous choice is Molly McCann over Hannah Goldy, so you might as well just have Goldy’s arm raised right now.

To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Zane Simon entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Tom Aspinall

Mookie Alexander: I feel like Aspinall either wins this early or gets worked over as the fight progresses. Blaydes is a terrific wrestler and if he can establish that successfully then I don’t know if Aspinall has the ability to escape both bottom position and the heavy ground-and-pound that usually comes after a Blaydes takedown and solid top control. On the feet, Blaydes is a markedly improved offensive striker who can pack a punch, but he will be at a speed disadvantage and Aspinall is much more varied and generally better than Chris Daukaus. It’ll be interesting to see how Aspinall deals with Blaydes’ wrestling threat and how that could impact his striking. I’m not confident in this pick whatsoever, but I feel like my doubts of Aspinall were very much reduced after the Volkov win and he might just have that special quality in him to hurt and stop Blaydes early. The longer Curtis keeps it standing, the more I like Tom’s chances to win. Tom Aspinall by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Realistically, most of what this fight is set to do is answer questions about Tom Aspinall. Notably, how well can he deal with the best wrestler in the heavyweight division? If there’s a question to be asked of Curtis Blaydes, however, it’s to wonder just how long he’ll want to try himself on the feet before looking to wrestle? And I’ll admit, I’m a little more drawn by that second question (even though it has a much lower chance of being a factor) than I am the first. Blaydes has spent a lot of time over the years improving his boxing, to the point that he was pretty clearly out-working Derrick Lewis on the feet, and ultimately breezed by Chris Daukaus. But Aspinall is a bit of a different animal. Like Daukaus, he’s fast, but he’s also decisive and much better schooled with his boxing. If Blaydes is spending time figuring out just what strikes to put together to get Aspinall set up for a double leg, I think Aspinall can shock him early with speed and aggression. Tom Aspinall via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Blaydes: Stephie, Victor, Connor
Staff picking Aspinall: Mookie, Dayne, Zane

Chris Curtis vs. Jack Hermansson

Mookie Alexander: Yeah I’m pretty surprised we almost all went for Curtis. Hermansson is tough, bigger, very well-rounded, and unlike Curtis’ previous opponents has a dependable gas tank and the ability to go five rounds if necessary. There’s also the realization that Hermansson should be a better takedown threat than Rodolfo Vieira and he has a good workrate. But on the flipside, Curtis is a wonderful combination boxer and we’ve seen Hermansson struggle with guys who can put an effective jab in his face. Add in Curtis’ work to the body and greater power in his strikes and I think that even with the short notice, the Action Man will get it done. Chris Curtis by decision.

Zane Simon: A base level, gut reaction to this fight just has me wanting to pick Hermansson. He’s had more of a camp for the fight, he’s tough as nails, he can push a pace I’ve never seen Curtis forced to maintain, and at some point Curtis’ 5’ 10” frame has to become a factor against lanky and/or grinding MWs (of which Hermansson is both). But the specifics of this fight aren’t nearly so convincing for the Swedish-born Norwegian. He’s always struggled with southpaws, he lacks the dominating strength to be a truly overpowering wrestler against the elite, and even when he’s done well in a high paced striking match, those haven’t been fights he’s then gone on to win. Curtis is the better schooled boxer, his takedown defense has looked near impenetrable in the UFC, and his pace was great over the last two rounds of his Vieira win. Hermansson will absolutely push him harder than Vieira did, but I’ll trust Curtis to battle his way through and land the better strikes to get the victory. Chris Curtis by decision.

Staff picking Curtis: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Hermansson: Dayne

Paddy Pimblett vs. Jordan Leavitt

Mookie Alexander: Leavitt’s a pretty good grappler and that alone could make this a fun fight on the mat. Otherwise Leavitt’s striking isn’t good or powerful enough to exploit Pimblett’s defensive flaws, so Paddy will essentially get the fight he wants and will thrive there. Paddy Pimblett by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: If this fight stays on the ground, it could get pretty ugly and become much more of a tossup. Leavitt is a good control grappler, and Pimblett does give up good grappling positions at times. But Pimblett also scrambles well, and when Leavitt is actually forced to sub-hunt, he often goes for low-percentage, high-risk moves. On the feet, this should be all Pimblett’s way. He carries his chin high and works entirely on straight lines, but Leavitt simply isn’t a confident enough striker to make him pay for errors. Paddy Pimblett via TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Pimblett: Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Leavitt: Victor

Nikita Krylov vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Mookie Alexander: I just don’t think Gustafsson is at his physical peak and each of his last three losses have just been so disheartening for how non-competitive they were. This is not me showing great confidence in Krylov as much as it’s showing no confidence in 2022 Gus. Nikita Krylov by decision.

Zane Simon: There was a time when I’d pick Gustafsson to pick this fight every single day and twice on Tuesdays. His boxing, in its prime, was far sharper than anything Krylov has ever put together, and at his peak, Gustafsson was a very strong defensive wrestler with some surprising takedowns of his own. But, more than anything, Gus’ confidence seems to have taken a nosedive over the past half-decade. And with that, he’s had trouble putting together enough offense to keep his opponents from opening up with their own arsenals against him. Even being tough and strong isn’t really enough to get you through fights if you’re not going to give opponents anything they really have to think about. Add in the recent weight class indecisiveness and the panic on the mat against Werdum (understandable, but also something Volkov handled well enough), and it all paints a portrait of a man at sea. Once this would have been an easy pick, but at this point, I have to take Nikita Krylov by decision.

Staff picking Krylov: Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Gustafsson: Victor

Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy

Mookie Alexander: McCann tends to struggle with fighters who have a clear physical and athletic advantage over her, in which case I don’t think Goldy fits the description. Goldy’s going to get outworked and outstruck pretty clearly to me. Molly McCann by decision.

Zane Simon: Nothing about Goldy’s game is consistent enough to make me think that she can use her potential strength advantage to actually make McCann pay for any of the holes in her game. Goldy was pretty fortunate to get that Whitmire win last time around. McCann is more collected and positionally aware than that. Molly McCann by decision.

Staff picking McCann: Mookie, Dayne, Victor, Stephie, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Goldy:

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Paul Craig

Mookie Alexander: There’s going to come a point where Craig just gets murked — he’s been murked several times already — and there is no miraculous comeback triangle choke. Oezdemir hits very hard and Craig’s defense is... not the best, to put it kindly. But Oezdemir is prone to bouts of inactivity and gassing so while Oezdemir is probably the smart pick, let’s go on the Paul Craig rollercoaster one more time. Paul Craig by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: Volkan Oezdemir just does not have to have the kind of fight Paul Craig wins. While it hasn’t necessarily showed in his results, Oezdemir has been more calm and collected than ever lately. He’s got a significant boxing edge over Craig, and strong enough defensive wrestling that he shouldn’t be easy for Craig to pull to the mat. Then again, too many fighters have chased Craig to the floor to their doom. It absolutely could happen. I’ll take Oezdemir via KO, round 1, but grappling has been the downfall of too many light heavyweights for me to feel confident about the pick.

Staff picking Oezdemir: Dayne, Victor, Connor, Zane
Staff picking Craig: Mookie, Stephie

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Curtis Blaydes
    (336 votes)
  • 61%
    Tom Aspinall
    (547 votes)
883 votes total Vote Now