Connect with us


UFC Fight Night: Blaydes v Aspinall Predictions 

The UFC returns to London with a stacked card headlined by heavyweights seeking to smash their way to a title shot as Tom Aspinall battles Curtis Blaydes.

UFC London Betting

The UFC returns to London with a stacked card headlined by heavyweights seeking to smash their way to a title shot as local favourite Tom Aspinall battles American wrestling ace Curtis Blaydes, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

UFC London is a can’t-miss event as it’s packed to the brim with some of the best fighters Europe has to offer. Like the MMA leader’s last event at the iconic O2 Arena proved in March, the UK crowd creates an atmosphere unlike any other, so go out of your way to watch this festival of fights. 

Middleweights command the spotlight in the co-main event eighth-ranked Jack Hermansson collides with the surging Chris Curtis. Uber-popular local stars Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann will bring the house down when they face off with Jordan Leavitt and Hannah Goldy respectively, while lethal light heavyweights will light it up with Nikita Krylov and Alexander Gustafsson going toe-to-toe and top-10 finishers Paul Craig and Volkan Oezdemir squaring off.

MAIN CARD (from 8 PM Saturday SA time):

Curtis Blaydes (2.15) v Tom Aspinall (1.71) (Heavyweight)

Scheduled for five rounds, Saturday’s main event showdown is a fascinating and titanic clash in the heavyweight division. 

Blaydes (16-3) has been on the brink of title contention and a mainstay in the top five for years. Fourth-ranked “Razor” heads into enemy territory looking to make a statement by doing what no one’s been able to inside the Octagon, halt the rise of the best heavyweight prospect in recent memory.

Liverpool ace Aspinall (12-2) has been nothing short of sensational since joining the UFC in 2020, ripping through all five of his opponents to take the division by storm. He returns to the O2 Arena where he solidified himself as the next big thing by submitting Alexander Volkov with a straight armbar four months ago.

A former Bellator champion, Volkov has beaten legends like Alistair Overeem and ex-UFC king Fabricio Werdum and went 25 minutes with former interim champion Cyril Gane. Aspinall took him down and forced him to tap in less than four minutes. 

In doing so, he took the Russian skyscraper’s No 6 ranking and maintained his remarkable 100% finishing rate (nine knockouts and three submissions). Even more impressively, only one of his victims made it to the second round, former two-time champion Andrei Arlovski, whom he choked out a minute into the second frame. 

The 29-year-old’s as well-rounded as they come and a natural finisher. He doesn’t force things and leave himself open to eat counter strikes; he’s highly intelligent and a highly-skilled savage. 

What truly makes him a punishing prodigy is his extraordinary speed and athleticism. The 6’5″, 252-pound Briton moves like a middleweight and has lethal hand speed that enables him to close distance, attack from awkward angles and finish foes in a flash. 

He has excellent jiu-jitsu and showed his offensive wrestling prowess in his quick mauling of Volkov. He’s never been taken down inside the Octagon, which is another reason why this match-up is so great.

With his elite-level experience and unrivalled wrestling in the heavyweight division, Blaydes stands to be the first to put Aspinall in uncomfortable positions. A thick, tank of a man who cuts down to make the 265-pound limit, the 6’4″ American is a monster wrestler with some of the most brutal ground-and-pound you’ll ever see. 

He showed in his last fight that he’s not just a wrestler as he crushed Chris Daukaus in March to bank his 11th knockout and claim his second win in a row, but against a younger, faster and crisper striker, the 31-year-old needs to turn it into a wrestling match. 

Even so, he’ll have to be wary of submission threats if or when he takes Aspinall down, but controlling him on the ground is his best possible path to victory. For such a behemoth, his cardio is exceptional. He’s gone five full rounds before, when he beat Volkov in 2020, so don’t expect him to gas out. 

He should, however, slow down when Aspinall’s high pace and pressure take their toll in the later rounds. Only two men have stopped Blaydes, reigning champion Francis Ngannou and the UFC’s knockout king Derrick Lewis, so I can’t see Aspinall finishing him early. Instead, I’m expecting him to be the first to take Aspinall to a third round and beyond. 

The accumulative danger I believe Blaydes will endure may lead to a late submission or TKO, but I see it going the distance in a showcase of a different kind for Aspinall, one in which he displays all of his skills to treat the partisan home crowd and break into the top five.  

Prediction: Aspinall via decision.

Best Bet: Aspinall at 1.71.

Alternative Bet: Aspinall by decision at 6.50.

Jack Hermansson (1.86) v Chris Curtis (1.95) (Middleweight)

Once again living up to his “Action Man” moniker, Curtis (29-8) comes in on short notice after UK favourite Darren Till was forced out of the co-headliner due to a knee injury. 

Curtis has been an insatiable beast. He’s rattled off eight consecutive wins, seven of those since the start of 2021. His most recent victory came over Rodolfo Vieira just three weeks ago and was the first by decision in his current hot streak. 

As much as he’s a hard-hitting middleweight, the real key to his success is his relentlessness. He throws at a ridiculous rate – landing 7.23 significant strikes per minute – which melt many of his 16 knockout victims. Hermansson (22-7), for comparison, lands 4.97 significant strikes per minute. 

The Swede is capable on the feet but grappling is his bread and butter. He’s fought the cream of the crop and holds wins over the likes of Jacare Souza and Kelvin Gastelum, the latter being one of his six submission victims. 

“The Joker” is ranked eighth but has been mightily inconsistent, trading wins and losses in his last six fights, and got out-struck by Sean Strickland in February. 

Hermansson’s best days are seemingly behind him and his hopes hinge on taking the fight to the ground. Curtis, however, has a strong base and is yet to be taken down inside the Octagon, so look for him to claim the biggest win of his career with a late knockout or by decision. 

Prediction: Curtis via knockout.

Best Bet: Curtis at 1.95.

Alternative Bet: Curtis by KO/TKO/DQ at 3.40.

Paddy Pimblett (1.36) v Jordan Leavitt (3.10) (Lightweight)

A super-charismatic scrapper who always puts on a show, Pimblett (18-3) is a superstar in his native England and the crowd will be at their absolute loudest when he makes his famous walkout. 

His popularity has quickly spread across the world thanks to thrilling finishes of Luigi Vendramini (by knockout) and Kazula Vargas (by submission) in his first two UFC fights, which stretched his current streak to four first-round wins.

Leavitt has a good record at 10-1 and has won his last two but he’s a favourable match-up for the beloved Scouser. “The Monkey King” has no punching power to speak of and, therefore, relies on his grappling (six submissions). 

Pimblett’s well-rounded (six knockouts and eight submissions), but fundamentally he’s a strong, athletic lightweight with a high-level grappling base, so it’s unlikely that Leavitt will be able to get him to the canvas.

With heavy hands, no serious heat coming his way and a two-inch reach advantage, bank on “The Baddy” to walk Leavitt down and clean his clock. 

Prediction: Pimblett via knockout. 

Best Bet: Pimblett by KO/TKO/DQ at 3.00.

Alternative Bet: Pimblett by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ at 1.83.

Nikita Krylov (1.52) v Alexander Gustafsson (2.50) (Light Heavyweight)

Gustafsson (18-7) returns from a two-year hiatus looking to make one last gold rush. The three-time title challenger came within a hair’s breadth of dethroning the great Jon Jones in an all-time classic war back in 2013 while he has wins over two of the last three men who held the championship in Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira in 2016 and 2017 respectively. 

He’s lost all three of his fights since then, though, the last at heavyweight against former champion Fabricio Werdum in 2020, so there are serious question marks about which version of “The Mauler” will show up. 

Krylov (27-9) is a mainstay in the light heavyweight top 15 but has had a rough go of it as well. He’s coming off consecutive defeats, has dropped three of his last four and four of his last six. Clinging onto the No 11 spot, the Ukrainian will be desperate to come good on Saturday. 

In what’ll be a striking duel, the younger, faster, more active and durable Krylov should outwork the returning veteran.

Prediction: Krylov via decision.

Best Bet: Krylov at 1.52.

Alternative Bet: Krylov by decision at 3.75.

Molly McCann (1.25) v Hannah Goldy (3.85) (Flyweight)

A fearless, all-action slugger, McCann (12-4) delivered the biggest highlight of March’s London event and a Knockout of the Year contender by starching Luana Carolina with a brutal spinning elbow that blew the roof off the O2 Arena. It was the 5’4″ stick of dynamite’s fifth knockout and she’ll be chasing that high again in front of her home crowd. 

This is a case of a fighter in McCann taking on an athlete in Goldy (6-2). The American has a decent all-around game without being particularly dangerous in any area. That spells trouble for her against the aggressive “Meatball”, who’ll be in her face.

McCann is now an established Octagon warrior whereas “24k” is yet to prove she belongs in the UFC with a 1-2 record in the promotion. While she’s still green, Goldy is tough and well-conditioned, so McCann will likely have to settle for a decision win. 

Prediction: McCann via decision.

Best Bet: McCann by decision at 1.62.

Alternative Bet: Fight to go the distance at 1.44.

Paul Craig (2.35) v Volkan Oezdemir (1.58) (Light Heavyweight)

An excellent clash of styles between top-10 205-pound killers kicks off the main card. Scottish submission specialist Craig (16-4-1) is at the peak of his powers with a six-fight unbeaten run dating back to 2019 seeing him shoot up to eighth in the rankings. The man known as “Bearjew” is an absolute savage with a 100% finishing rate and 13 submissions to his credit.

Conversely, Oezdemir (17-6) is on a two-fight slide that dropped him one spot below Craig in ninth. As his nickname suggests, “No Time” is a finisher in his own right and has used his crisp striking to stack up a dozen knockouts. 

The former title challenger is always dangerous and that every round starts on the feet means he’ll have an initial advantage, which is why he’s the favourite. For my money, his recent setbacks showed that he’s past his prime. 

Craig has come a long way with his striking and is on a tear, so I’m tipping him to safely close the distance, drag Oezdemir into his world and either force him to tap or put him to sleep.

Prediction: Craig by submission.

Best Bet: Craig by submission at 3.50.

Alternative Bet: Craig at 2.35.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

More in UFC