Molly McCann produced TWO brutal knockouts, Michael Bisping had a stunning comeback against Anderson Silva and Jorge Masvidal silenced the home crowd… the top TEN moments from previous UFC London events
- The UFC returns to London this weekend for an action-packed UFC 286 card
- Leon Edwards will defend his welterweight title belt against Kamaru Usman
- Here, Sportsmail has looked at 10 of the best moments from past London events
This weekend, the UFC finally returns to London for the welterweight title fight between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman.
Edwards won the title in dramatic fashion in August last year after delivering a brutal head-kick KO to Usman in the final round of the title fight.
The Birmingham fighter became just the second British champion in the company’s history and has warned Usman that he plans to repeat his summer success.
Usman will be looking to win back his crown and upset the London crowd when he steps foot into the octagon on Satuday night – but might have to produce something special in order to do so.
And so, ahead of the fight, Sportsmail have taken a look at the top 10 best moments from previous UFC London events.
Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman will face-off at the O2 Arena on Saturday in a UFC title fight
Jorge Masvidal knocking out Darren Till
This one will be an indelible memory for the majority British UFC fans. So much had been promised of Darren Till, yet his performance against Masvidal was a brutal reality check for many.
Till had just been dealt his first ever professional loss by at-the-time champion Tyron Woodley and was looking to bounce in a bout against American Masivdal.
‘Gamebred’ was making his highly-anticipated return to the octagon, after a two-year hiatus, and many had expected Till to take advantage of Masvidal’s ring-rust.
However, that was not the case for the ‘Gorilla’. Instead he was dealt a brutal KO defeat in the second round, after getting caught with a huge left-hook.
Till slammed to the canvas, as Masvidal continued to throw hammer fists, before Marc Goddard quickly declared the fight over.
The huge punch sent London’s O2 Arena into silence, as the England fighter was handed the first KO defeat of his career.
Till has struggled to recover from that defeat and has won just one of the four fights that have followed since then, before leaving the organisation earlier this month.
Paddy Pimblett’s mental health speech
Paddy ‘the Baddy’ Pimblett announced himself as a serious lightweight contender after beating Jordan Leavitt via submission at a Fight Night event in July 2022.
But it was his actions after the fight that had the biggest impact in the days that followed the event.
The 27-year-old took the microphone after submitting Leavitt and, fighting through tears, implored men to speak about their demons following the suicide of a friend.
‘People would rather… I know I would rather have my mate cry on my shoulder than go to his funeral next week. So please, let’s get rid of this stigma. Men, start talking,’ the fighter said.
Pimblett himself says fans have reached out to him and thanked him for his words with some even insisting he preventing them from taking their own lives.
‘I have had loads of messages, people saying “without you, I wouldn’t even be here now”.
‘It blows your mind. Messages like that will mean more than any win ever will – someone saying to me, “I didn’t take my life last night cause of something you said.”
‘It’s not something I ever wanted to do. I just wanted to go and fight. I like being punched and punching people and entertaining at the same time, that’s what I’m good at.’
Michael Bisping’s stunning comeback win against Anderson Silva
UFC legend Michael Bisping is one of the biggest pioneers for mixed martial arts within the United Kingdom.
The former middleweight became the first British fighter to ever claim a UFC title after beating Luke Rockhold in June 2016.
However, it was the fight before his bout with Rockhold that really increased Bisping’s stock within the organisation.
In February 2016, Bisping took on the legendary Anderson Silva in a five-round war at the O2 Arena, in a fight that will be remembered for years to come.
It was a contest that lived up to expectations as the two traded shot-for-shot across 25 minutes of thrilling action in London.
Bisping, 44, survived a brutal onslaught – including a ferocious flying knee at the end of the third round – before eventually claiming the win via unanimous decision.
The Brit was battered and bruised by the time his hand was lifted inside the O2 Arena but he certainly earned everybody’s respect for the brilliant showdown with Silva.
Molly McCann’s mental KOs
Molly ‘Meatball’ McCann has quickly become one of the UK’s biggest names within the UFC after her string of tremendous KO’s.
The Liverpudlian fighter was given her first appearance at a London fight card in March last year, where she faced off with Luana Carolina in a flyweight bout.
After dominating the first two rounds, McCann produced one of the most impressive KO’s of the year in the third after landing a ferocious spinning elbow.
The impact left Carolina lying on the canvas as McCann leapt over the octagon fence and into the arms of company president Dana White.
It must have done her some good as, just four months later, the UFC returned to London for another Fight Night event and McCann was back on it.
Incredibly, she managed to produce yet another blistering KO on her opponent Hannah Goldy as a packed-out O2 Arena cheered her on.
Towards the end of the first round, McCann delivered a brutal flurry of strikes – including another spinning elbow – that left Goldy crumpled on the floor.
Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker
It would be rude not to include this terrific bout on our list of top moments from previous UFC London events.
In March last year, Ipswich’s Arnold Allen faced the biggest test of his professional career in a bout against the experienced Dan Hooker at the O2 Arena.
Allen had been on an impressive run of wins before the fight but the majority of those had come as decision victories.
Which is why his first-round KO against Hooker was even more impressive and a testament to the skills that the Englishman has.
In a blistering first-round, the two lightweights traded huge shots before Allen eventually had Hooker rocked and stumbling towards the fence.
That’s when Allen delivered a flurry of brutal strikes – combining punches, elbows and knees – to put a stop to the bout and claim victory.
It was a thrilling contest that had the O2 Arena on their feet for the lightweight, who has since gone on to defeat Calvin Kattar via TKO.
Tom Aspinall headlines at UFC Fight Night 204
Wigan fighter Tom Aspinall had the biggest moment of his career in March 2022, when he headlined the UFC’s first London event since 2019.
After four wins out of four UFC bouts, the heavyweight proved himself to be one of the top contenders in the division and set-up a bout with Alexander Volkov.
And Aspinall did not disappoint as he produced a stunning first-round finish on his Russian counterpart to claim the victory.
The 29-year-old landed an impressive takedown mid-way through the round before locking in an armbar on Volkov.
It was a moment that felt huge for not just Aspinall, but British MMA in general, as the heavyweight lifted the roof off of the O2 Arena with his win.
Dana White was so impressed with the atmosphere showed by the London crowd that he scheduled another Fight Night event just four months later.
Aspinall, again, headlined the card but unfortunately suffered a horrific knee injury at within the first 15 seconds of the bout. The Brit hardly got going before the referee ruled the fight over.
Jimi Manuwa KO’s Corey Anderson
British light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa was another pioneer in the mixed martial arts world.
Though he ended his career with a disappointing four-fight losing streak, there can be no detracting from what he achieved inside the octagon.
The ‘Poster Boy’ has wins over Jan Błachowicz, Ovince Saint Preux and Corey Anderson on his fighting resume, with his fight against Anderson being particularly entertaining.
Manuwa headlined a Fight Night event against the American at O2 Arena in March 2017 and gave fans a brutal first-round knockout to remember.
After three minutes of action in the first-round, Manuwa increased his tempo and set out on the front-foot, resulting in Anderson being laid out after a brutal left-hook.
Manuwa would collect a Performance of the Night bonus for his troubles but, unfortunately, it was the last one he collected before retiring in June 2019.
Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal clash back-stage
Out of all of the entries into our list of the top 10 moments from previous UFC London events, this is arguably the most rogue.
The UFC’s Fight Night event in March 2019, when Darren Till was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal, descended into chaos but only after all the fights had occurred.
As Masvidal – who had just scored an impressive KO over Till – was conducting a post-fight interview when he was heckled by a rowdy Leon Edwards.
The American decided to cut his interview with ESPN short, as he strolled over to Edwards and quickly gave the Brit a ‘three piece with a soda’.
In other words, he started throwing heavy shots at the Birmingham fighter. Edwards fired back before security intervened and put a halt to the backstage chaos.
Despite the fight being broken up relatively swiftly, Edwards suffered a cut above his eye, yet decided not to press charges against his welterweight counterpart.
Paddy Pimblett vs Kazula Vargas
Yes, Paddy Pimblett has earned a second entry into our list.
His post-fight speech, conducted after beating Jordan Leavitt, was without a doubt one of the most powerful moments in British MMA history.
However, it was his first appearance in London – at UFC Fight Night 204 – where he truly announced himself to the country.
Pimblett had just made his UFC debut and managed to earn a KO victory over Luigi Vendramini, when White announced that the UFC was returning to London.
Pimblett was thrown onto the card, with the hype beginning to build, and would face-off against fellow lightweight Kazula Vargas.
Expectations were high and Pimblett did not disappoint as he produced an emphatic submission victory to send the O2 Arena into pandemonium.
The wild celebrations saw Pimblett, McCann and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney all bearing huge smiles and enjoying a laugh backstage afterwards.
Paul Craig submits Nikita Krylov
There are few fighters who have the grappling capabilities that Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig has. Let alone light heavyweight fighters.
From his 16 wins, Craig has produced 13 submissions finishes. It’s an astonishing record and one that is a testament to his expertise on the ground.
And, at UFC Fight Night event in March 2022, Craig showed off those skills in a brutal bout against Russian heavyweight Nikita Krylov.
After landing a takedown within the first 10 seconds of the fight, Craig maintained control on the ground up until the final minute of the round.
Before Krylov could react, Craig locked in a lethal triangle choke that forced the Russian to tap and concede the fight.
It was a beautiful display of Craig’s grappling ability and launched the Scottish fighter into a bout with Volkan Oezdemir, which he lost via decision.
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