The UFC’s first England event for 2018 is set to take place in London’s O2 arena on March 17, and will be headlined by a Heavyweight showdown between former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum and up-and-coming Russian Alexander Volkov.
On paper, UFC Fight Night 127 seems like it’s average at best, but with three of the five main card bouts being fought at Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, don’t be surprised if there’s be knockouts a plenty.[table “3” not found /]
Main Event – Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1) vs Alexander Volkov (29-6)
Werdum is by far the more famous of these two fighters, and that comes as little surprise given the Brazilian’s stellar resume. The 40-year-old has gone 23-7-1 in his 15-year MMA career, with Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt featuring on his win list.
He’s currently riding a two-fight win streak, having finished Walt Harris in 65 seconds at UFC 216 and dominating Marcin Tybura in a decision victory in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney, Australia last October.
Although Volkov is 11 years younger than Werdum, the Russian actually boasts four more professional fights than his upcoming opponent. ‘Drago’ will go into March’s main event with a 29-6 record, which includes a perfect 3-0 record in the UFC.
Volkov’s most recent fight was a stellar Main Event performance against Heavyweight stalwart Stefan Struve at UFC Fight Night 115 in September, where he dominated the Skyscraper en route to a TKO victory in the third round.
Drago has a history of coming up short in many of his major fights, as seen through his losses to Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov during his time at Bellator. Those fights were some years ago, though, and there’s no denying that Volkov is riding a huge wave of momentum coming into this bout.
UFC prediction and tips for this event: Volkov to win by KO/TKO
Leon Edwards (14-3) vs Peter Sobotta (17-5-1)
UFC Fight Night 127’s co-main event pits British fighter Leon Edwards against German Peter Sobotta in a welterweight contest. There’s plenty at stake in this bout, as the winner will assert themselves as one to watch in a division that is quickly becoming starved of top prospects.
Having now been in the UFC for three years, Edwards has shown himself to be a fighter who has grown after every fight. The 26-year-old has a 14-3 MMA record, with six wins and two losses in the Octagon. He is currently riding a four-fight win streak, and a fifth straight win would more than likely put him against a top-10 fighter in his next fight.
Sobotta, on the other hand, is making the most of his second UFC stint, having gone 4-1 in his last five UFC fights. While the German has a record of 17-5-1, he has gone 9-1 in his last ten matches, with all but two of those wins coming via stoppage.
A win over Edwards will make it three straight for Sobotta, who will likely get a shot against a top, higher-profile fighter should he reign supreme in London.
UFC prediction and tips: Edwards to win on points
Mark Godbeer (13-3) vs Dmitry Sosnovskiy (10-0)
He may only have three UFC fights so far, but Mark Godbeer’s UFC career has already had its fair share of twists and turns. He lost his Octagon debut against Justin Ledet in the first round, but quickly rebounded in a decision win over Daniel Spitz at UFC 209.
His last UFC fight was at UFC 217 in November, where he beat Walt Harris by disqualification after Harris landed a head kick on Godbeer after the referee had called a stop on the bout, which happened after the Englishman was on a receiving end of a groin shot.
UFC Fight Night 127 will mark the first time Godbeer fights on a UFC Main Card, and a win over Sosnovskiy will make three-straight UFC victories, thereby cementing him as a fighter to watch in the Heavyweight division.
A short notice replacement to the injured Dmitry Poberezhets, Dmitriy Sosnovskiy enters the UFC with an undefeated professional MMA record of 10-0. The Russian has predominantly fought in his home country, and his UFC debut will be the first time the 28-year-old fights in the UK.
Although Sosnovskiy’s 10-0 record is more than admirable, is it worth noting that he has not fought since May 2015, when he beat Oleg Gapchenko in an event is Russia.
UFC prediction and tips: Godbeer to win by KO/TKO
Paul Craig (9-2) vs Magomed Ankalaev (9-0)
In the first Light Heavyweight fight of the UFC Fight Night 127 main card, Paul Craig will be looking to end his losing streak while Ankalaev will be looking to extend his winning streak.
A native of Scotland, Craig made his UFC debut in December 2016 with an 8-0 record, which turned into 9-0 after he submitted Henrique da Silva. However, 2017 marked a year of back-to-back losses for the former BAMMA Light Heavyweight champion, as he suffered stoppage losses to Tyson Pedro and Khalil Rountree.
Craig will have a major challenge on his hands as he faces Ankalaev, who will make his UFC debut with an undefeated 9-0 record. The Russian fought twice in 2017, beating Celso Ricardo da Silva and former UFC Fighter Wagner Prado in first round knockout victories.
At just 25, Ankalaev has already asserted himself as a major prospect in the Light Heavyweight division, and a victory on the main card of a UFC event will put him in a solid position in what has become a shallow UFC 205 pound division.
UFC prediction and tips: Ankalaev to win by KO/TKO
Alex Reyes (13-3) vs Nasrat Haqparast (8-2)
The opening main card match features two fighters who are chasing their first UFC victory. Alex Reyes made his UFC debut on just three days’ notice in a Welterweight bout against Mike Perry in September 2017, which expectedly ended in a quick stoppage loss.
However, Reyes returns to the Octagon at Lightweight – his normal weight class – where he has the benefit of a full training camp as well as fighting at a weight he’s accustomed to. Although his last fight was a loss, his previous 13 fights were all stoppage victories, with all but two of those coming in the first round.
Haqparast made his UFC debut in October, less than two months after his 22nd birthday, in a losing effort against submission specialist Marcin Held. Prior to that, however, the German-Afghan had an eight-fight win streak, all of which ended via TKO stoppage, which ultimately led to his signing with the UFC.
While the Lightweight division remains one of the most talent stacked in the UFC, a win over Reyes would help boost Haqparast’s reputation as a bright young prospect and a fighter to watch in the coming years.
UFC prediction and tips: Haqparast to win by stoppage