With UFC London done and dusted, a lot of English MMA talent has emerged victorious and ready for their next big step. Though the card was dominated by the big characters of Darren Till, Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards this didn’t stop several other fighters making a statement inside the O2 Arena.
A large part of the card was fighters beginning to get momentum. The likes of Mike Grundy, Marc Diakiese and Molly McCann all picked up big wins but in terms of their next steps, it’s all about momentum. It isn’t the time to be thinking up fantasy fights, that comes once they build themselves up in their division.
Arnold Allen, on the other hand, has already done this. He is now 5-0 in the UFC and in his fight at London, beat Jordan Rinaldi. The way Allen has been booked, at UFC Liverpool he beat Mads Burnell, another European fighter looking to build towards the top 15 rankings at featherweight. Allen has now beaten Rinaldi, with both fighters in a similar place. Both were putting together impressive wins on their way to the top 15. With Allen putting on a dominant performance against Rinaldi, he is ready for a fight that will take him into the top of the division.
A fighter that comes to mind right away when I think of fighters who are constantly on the fringe of the top 15 at 145 pounds is Andre “Touchy” Fili. Fili has become a staple of the division in the UFC and has become a real gatekeeper in the division. He has shown in recent years where his level is at, picking up wins over the likes of Dennis Bermudez and most recently, Myles Jury. When Fili does lose, it’s to people who go on to make an impact in the division, your Yair Rodriguez’s and Calvin Kattar’s. Fili represents the jump in competition for Allen between fighting people on the same path as him to fighting people at the top of the division. Add to that it’s a very interesting match-up and the fight makes a whole lot of sense.
Arguably the biggest moment of the night apart from the main and co-main event was Nathaniel Wood’s submission win over Quinones. Wood is now 3-0 in the UFC and apart from a shaky first round against Johnny Eduardo in his debut, “The Prospect” has been flawless. He has demonstrated he is not just a striker, displaying smart grappling skills and taking his opportunities when they present themselves. Similar to Arnold Allen’s path, Wood has now announced himself as a top prospect in the division and that means it’s time to face off against another exciting prospect.
On a poll carried out on my own twitter account, I put up a few names I would like to see Wood face off with. The clear favourite was a fighter that despite only having 2 fights in the UFC, has a bigger fanbase than most fighters. “Sugar” Sean O’Malley impressed in spades on the contender series and has picked up 2 decision wins in the UFC. He has become a fan favourite due to his fighting style and personality but has had his momentum halted slightly by injuries and a suspension. O’Malley was scheduled to fight Wood’s last opponent Quinones but O’Malley pulled out of the fight. Wood is a big prospect in England but beating O’Malley who carries a bigger name would announce Wood to the whole division and if O’Malley beats Wood, he shows his potential as a legitimate contender in the division. It’s a great fight between two fighters that carry a large fan base. Both have great fighting styles and great personalities. I have no doubt this fight would steal whatever card it gets put on.
Thank you for stopping by for another edition of backseat matchmaker. Do you agree with my picks? Got some better ones? Let us know and get involved on social media. Bye bye for now.