UFC Fight Night 127 - London Breakdown & Predictions
Fabricio Werdum vs Alexander Volkov
he British fans were hoping to see Michael Bisping headline at the O2 arena in London but his swansong has been delayed mostly thanks to the careless decision to step in late notice against Kelvin Gastelum who almost took his head off in the first round when they met in November last year.
Nevertheless, rivalled quality has filled the void in the shape of Fabricio Werdum who takes on fellow heavyweight and former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov, who is flying up the rankings with five straight wins. This is by far the biggest fight of the Russian’s career against the most skilled opponent of his career and a win will catapult him into title contention.
Werdum is beginning to make a habit of saving cards as well as taking risky fights for little reward. He is desperate for another title shot but is prepared to pick off contender after contender to get there knowing a win will solidify his spot in the rankings, but a loss will be hugely detrimental to his chances.
The Brazilian has to be the favourite as one of the most well-skilled heavyweights in the world with experience to match. That said, the ever-improving Volkov is vastly experienced for his age and unbeaten in the UFC. His striking is his obvious strength, leveraging all 80 inches of his frame which he showcased with a superb performance and TKO of Stefan Struve who is even taller.
He has also showcased his improved wrestling since arriving to the UFC with two more great wins over heavy grapplers Roy Nelson and Timothy Johnson. However, Werdum’s skills are in a different league. Nobody has matched him on the mat and he is arguably the best heavyweight practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ever.
Werdum is also an underrated striker and considering his confidence, do not be surprised if he attempts to keep the fight standing to show off his own skills against the lanky striker. Volkov’s best chance will be to utilize his reach and keep the fight at a distance with his strong jab. However, if Werdum has any trouble, he always has the back up plan of taking the Russian to the ground and submitting him at will.
Winner: Werdum via Submission
Jimi Manuwa vs Jan Blachowicz
The British fans won’t get to see Michael Bisping but they will be treated to an appearance of another fan-favourite with the devastatingly hard-hitting Jimi ‘The Poster Boy’ Manuwa. He takes on Jan Blachowicz in a rematch in which he secured the only decision win of his career back in 2015.
The Londoner seems incapable of putting on boring fights as he either delivers catastrophic knockouts or receives them. That said, the wily old veteran Blachowicz is very hard to put away and is coming off two big wins over Devin Clark and Jared Cannonier.
Manuwa on the other hand is coming off a brutal knockout loss to Volkan Oezdemir but form means nothing if the Brit connects with the skull. He doesn’t need any incentive to hunt the knockout and you have to feel anything other than a spectacular win won’t get him any nearer to a title shot with Daniel Cormier and the same can be said for Blachowicz in his attempts to creep into contention.
The key stat has got to be the significant striking accuracy of Manuwa which is the highest in the division at 58.99%. Blachowicz has the cardio and experience to take the fight into deep waters and would be wise to close as much distance as possible and get his hands on Manuwa, especially after his phenomenal submission finish on Clark recently, but ‘The Poster Boy’ is as motivated as ever and will want to end the fight as soon as possible.
Winner: Manuwa via KO/TKO
Tom Duquesnoy vs Terrion Ware
These up and coming bantamweights were surging up the ranks showing off their talented skillsets up until they met fellow prospect Cody Stamann. In July and October last year, he earned narrow decisions against Terrion Ware and Tom Duquesnoy respectively.
This snapped Ware’s four-fight winning streak on his UFC debut and he struggled to bounce back in his next fight against Sean O’Malley. This was a close decision but without a UFC win so far, all the pressure is on him to respond.
His hands are full though with yet another top prospect. The young Frenchman has bags of potential and his loss to Stamann was his first loss in 13 fights. He is incredibly well-rounded and is improving exponentially with the Jackson Wink MMA team.
They are both natural finishers and it will be very interesting to see how they respond to their recent losses. Ware seemed to get overwhelmed with the reach and flair of O’Malley’s striking in his last fight but crucially has the reach advantage over Duquesnoy.
This fight is expected to be close and tense and a well-executed game plan will be crucial for both men but with the tactical minds of his coaches behind him, Duquesnoy may just earn the decision.
Winner: Duquesnoy via Decision
Leon Edwards vs Peter Sobotta
Leon Edwards may not be in the welterweight spotlight at the moment but the British fans know exactly what he is capable of and at only 26 years old, he as all the potential to be competing at championship level in the near future.
Already a UFC veteran with eight fights, he has only lost one of his last seven which was to Kamaru Usman which did not really damage his stock as Usman is beating and out-grappling everybody at the moment. Edwards has responded with four straight wins and now meets Peter Sobotta who is coming off two superb wins of his own; most impressive of which was his TKO of Ben Saunders in his last fight, ending a dominant performance with a hellacious knee.
They are both in the best form of their lives and although Edwards was nearly put away against Bryan Barberena in his last fight, he displayed tremendous heart and courage to come back and steal the win.
They are both great grapplers with Edwards edging the wrestling and Sobotta edging the submission game and their preferences are illustrated by the takedown average stats. However, with the respect of each other’s strengths we may see a lot of this bout fought on the feet.
Winner: Edwards via Decision