Well UFC London is in the books, and what an event it was. Going to a live show that comes to your shores once or twice a year is one of the greatest pleasures an MMA fan has, along with watching old Velasquez highlights when the current heavyweight division makes you sad and one of your tweets slagging off Conor getting over 10 retweets. This year we had the displeasure of the o2 arena that is the Meisha Tate of stadiums. Looks pretty, everyone thinks they’re great, but they constantly under deliver at every opportunity. Despite the poor staffing, the card was amazing, the fans were amazing, and we had a great day out in the old smoke doing what we love most, watching live fights. Even though the tickets were expensive and the o2 staff were gormless, I’ll never stop attending these events. When I’m actually in the seat watching the card, it’s a feeling of eternal bliss. Until your beer runs out that is and the prospect of another hour long wait in the ridiculous cue looms. Regardless, we’d love to run through this entire card and give a full review, but we were very drunk, and now we’re very hungover, and the truth of the matter is a lot of the readers won’t know who a lot of these people are. So, for the first time ever Combat Hub is debuting Winners and Losers, a new series that I’m 100% sure we’re the very first to ever do where we give a few of the, well, biggest winners and losers following the event. For example, Winner, Bruce Buffer’s tailor, every time, every god damn time that man looks exceptional. Loser, my wallet, after paying £7 for a pint, I love you London but dammit I hate you.
- Jorge Masvidal
What really is there to say about this, the man exceeded all expectations. A dominant victory that silenced the whole crowd and left us physically jumping out of our seats. We predicted Masvidal to get the win and here’s why. He’s just better. He’s more well rounded, he’s fitter, he’s more tactical, he tends to have a better head and his boxing is just so elite. Till was good, but Masvidal’s grappling was superior and his game plan more effective. Many people were saying, well, if Till keeps it standing he’ll definitely win due his superior striking. Superior striking? Yes, Till’s tidy with his hands, but saying that Till is a better striker than Masvidal is like saying CM Punk has better submission defence than Conor McGregor, I can see why you think it but it’s probably not true. Despite being out for some time, Gamebred dominated this, played his game, outboxed Till and scored quite possibly knockout of the year so far, a lot of us genuinely didn’t know if Till was getting back up, quite frankly we didn’t wanna know, we wanted to finish our pints and get out of there. Fast. Despite all the riff raff, Masvidal has catapulted himself into the number 5 position. He’s in a prime slot for a title shot in the next year or so and this now raises some interesting match ups. Askren is mouth watering, Colby would be decent, and if Woodley stays the man that Usman beat then even that fight could be a well fought win for Gambred. Overall, he’s the biggest winner here.
2. Dominick Reyes
Choo choo, all aboard! What’s that folks? I think it’s time to get that Reyes hype train started. If it’s anything like National Rail it will be delayed, overpriced and have hardly any room to breath. Fitting that this has started after UFC London in that case. Reyes is a fighter that has been getting a lot of buzz online amongst the MMA hardcores which is anyone on twitter with a black and white cover photo. This is for good reason however, I don’t think it’s a very controversial thing to say that the light heavyweight division isn’t the most stacked right now so to have talent like this is refreshing and with a perfect record, dominant victories over the likes of OSP and Cannonier, Oezdemir seemed like a great test. When this fight got announced we were so excited, an already amazing card getting a great buffer. Was it the most emphatic Reyes performance? Absolutely not, maybe it was the travel, maybe he didn’t feel great, but winners win, he turned up, done the job and got the victory and now at 11-0 the casuals and mainstream media are really going to start looking at him in greater detail. This is a man who can knock people out, submit people, and he did well to keep his opponent at bay throughout the bout to cruise the victory. It looks like Jones might move up in weight and leave this division wide open. I can definitely see this man being a champion in the future in that instance.
3. Nathaniel Wood
I absolutely love the lower weight divisions. I think it’s safe to say we all do. Being a long term UFC fan I remember the time where lightweight was a low as it went like an awful limbo. Since the inclusion of bantamweight we’ve had some amazing fights step up, and none more promising than this man. Yes, I’m a little biased as he’s as English as fish and chips, a pint of ale or football hooliganism, but his record speaks for itself. Already an impressive 16-3 at only 25 years old Wood has had an impressive run in Cage Warriors which has bled into the UFC. Physically and metaphorically. Wood is a man who loves to finish fights and this is evident from his career pre-UFC where he utilised his incredible boxing to secure multiple KOs and overwhelm his opponents with barrages of combinations. Since joining the big leagues his game has developed, the sign of a champion. All 3 of his UFC wins have come from submission and his RNC against Quinonez is an amazing example of how much better his BJJ has become. Winning on this massive card has catapulted him into mainstream MMA conversation, especially in a wide open 135 division where currently anything can happen. His empathic win has placed him now on a streak of 8, all of these coming from stoppages. That’s an impressive feat in any promotion, and I’m hoping we see Wood in more high profile fights later this year.
- Darren Till
For the love of God Darren why. We kind of knew this was going to happen, didn’t want to say it, but then said it anyway. I’ve always liked Darren Till, nationalism having nothing to do with it. My first ever UFC event was in Liverpool where I saw him fight Thompson and although not the best fight ever was an amazing experience, one I replicated at this card and hopefully will do in the future. Regardless, 6 months ago Till was the number 1 ranked welterweight, now, he’s on a two fight losing streak and has plummeted down to 7th on the official rankings. Don’t get me wrong, losing to Masvidal isn’t that bad a thing and is definitely not embarrassing, I’ve already discussed his superior boxing and grappling, but damn, Till really needs to stop harassing Askren on twitter and work out what he’s doing. It’s clear the weight cut is getting difficult and it just makes sense to make the transition to middle at this point. He has nothing left to prove at 170 and would like to see him try his hand in a fresh environment. Maybe a long layoff and shaking it up a bit is what he needs. That, and a revamp of his boxing training. Till is traditionally been a good striker, but recently he’s been complacent. He’s always good at finding his range, making his jab known and coming over with that left hand but his head movement and defence have been regressing for a while. This weekend was a textbook example. I really hope Till can go back to the drawing board and have his fight tactics be more than just keeping his opponents behind the jab, we need to see some evolution in his game or he could quickly become an after thought
2. Leon Edwards
That’s right. He’s in the losers. No, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t even want to put him here, the fact that I actually felt like I had to put him here is a joke. He should be near the top of my winners, right? Wrong. And it makes me sick. What more did Leon have to do this weekend to get a some respect from the UFC? Whoever’s in charge of updating the UFC’s rankings is probably the same person in charge of Jon Jones’ supplements. They don’t know what they’re doing. Leon, in my opinion, put on an amazing show and is one of the best, fastest rising stars in the welterweight division who is now riding an 8 fight win streak against top tier opposition. Have all the fights had crazy highlight reel knockouts? No, but they’ve been decisive and effective. The reason I had to put him on the losers was two fold. One, his ranking didn’t change. As I previously alluded too, the guy in charge of the rankings is of as much use as Dana’s barber. Two, that ridiculous three piece he got nailed with by Masvidal. Now I’m not here to break that down. I’m not a fan of the talent fighting backstage in any capacity, hands can get broken, cuts can, and did happen and this can damage people’s ability to fight and ultimately make money. But god damn, it was a three piece Colonel Sanders himself would be proud of. Regardless, the internet reacted how they reacted, and Edwards’ cool, controlling win against Gunnar, who many people thought would win, was completely overshadowed by this. This only positive for Leon is a grudge match with Masvidal would draw good money and a victory could mean a top 5 ranking. Or not. He might actually go down to 12th or something. Who knows.
3. Gunnar Nelson
I don’t think I’m turning many heads when I say we all love Gunnar. He’s a genuine, stand up guy with an exciting style, world class BJJ and a lot of respect for the sport. Through the many promotions he’s fought in he’s paid his dues and won the hearts of us all during his climb and at one point we thought he might be in the conversation for title contention in the new future. However, things haven’t always gone Gunnar’s way and the only other person I can put on here after Leon Edwards is the man he beat. On paper, I thought this was gonna be a great fight for both men. And it was a great fight, close, some good exchanges and a war of grappling intermittently which saw Edwards just come out on top. Who knew the fallout would end up being this damaging. Nelson is now on a run of losing every other fight, and despite this loss, it wasn’t against a bum, Edwards is an amazing fighter, and although this is on our biggest loses section, I’m 100% confident Nelson can bounce back from this. He’s still relatively young, got great hands, great BJJ and is a great personality to have in the UFC. After this, it will probably take a win or 2 before he’s back on a main card, but I think our Icelandic animal can get there.