With the UFC preparing to stage fights outside of the States again, British fighters are free to resume their careers as they pack their bags for Fight Island (Yas Island). With UFC London the first event to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus, a number of British fighters have been left in limbo and many will just be grateful for the opportunity to get back to work.
The undisputed king of British MMA- Darren Till, headlines the final Fight Island card as he takes on Robert Whittaker in a fight with huge title implications for the middleweight division, but which other Brits will be looking to get their careers back on track in Abu Dhabi.
Lerone Murphy, (8-0-1)
The undefeated featherweight is still looking for his first win in the UFC after a close split draw with Zubaira Tukhugov, and was one of a number of fighters expecting to take part at UFC London back in March. The former FCC Featherweight champion entered the UFC with a perfect 8-0 record with five TKO/KO’s and trains out of the esteemed Manchester Top Team gym under the stewardship of Carl Prince. One of the few British prospects that didn’t come through the Cage Warriors promotion, Murphy has a good stand up game, with good strike variation and power and is also comfortable on the ground or in the clinch. Across from him at UFC Fight Night 172 will be Brazilian Ricardo Ramos (14-2) who enters on a two fight win streak. With no easy fights in the UFC ‘The Miracle’ will have the advantage of already having fought in Abu Dhabi in his promotional debut, but will have his work cut out against another young prospect.
Molly McCann, (10-2)
Scouser Molly McCann will be looking to extend her win streak to four as she takes on Talia Santos at UFC Fight Night 172. After a breakthrough 2019 that saw her record decision wins over Priscila Cachoeira, Ariane Lipski and Diana Belbita, she sits fifteenth in the women’s flyweight rankings. Collecting the SNA and Cage Warriors women’s flyweight titles while going 7-1 on the British regional circuit, McCann lost her UFC debut to surging flyweight Gillian Robertson via rear naked choke. McCann- the first English woman to win in the UFC, will be looking for a big fight if she is successful next month, with potential matchups with the likes of Maycee Barber and Cynthia Calvillo on the horizon as well as champion Valentina Shevchenko in her sights.
Brett Johns, (16-2)
Brett Johns burst onto the scene with three wins from three to begin his UFC career and despite losses to elite bantamweights Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz still has huge potential to grow at only 28 years old. Collecting titles in three organisations before getting the UFC call, Johns started his MMA journey by training in Judo and Jiu Jitsu from a young age, picking up Black belts in both while also having proficient Muay Thai skills. Returning after two years out with a submission win earlier this year, Johns will be hoping to build up the momentum that saw him earmarked as a future title contender and break back into the stacked bantamweight rankings. Opposing him will be 9-1 prospect Montel Jackson, a former wrestling standout who holds notable wins over Brian Kelleher and Andre Soukhamthath, and should offer a stern test for the Swansea native.
Marc Diakiese, (14-3)
Flashy lightweight Marc Diakiese has put together two impressive wins over Joe Duffy and Lando Vannata to put an end to his three fight losing streak that threatened to end his UFC run. These losses seem to have enabled ‘Bonecrusher’ to take a step back and reset, and he now looks a much more well-rounded fighter than before. The former BAMMA champion is 5-3 in the UFC and combines Muay Thai, Kickboxing and the Brazilian art of Capoeira to thrill fans with an array of highly technical striking techniques. His two recent wins have displayed his ability to fight a disciplined three round fight, and he looks to be finally putting his full game together. Originally scheduled to fight Alan Patrick, the Brazilian (yes a Brazilian named Alan Patrick) pulled out for reasons yet unknown, and as a result Diakiese will instead face Rafael Fiziev in what should be an intriguing largely stand up contest.
Nathaniel Wood, (16-4)
Nathaniel Wood aptly nicknamed ‘The Prospect’, will be looking to bounce back from his maiden UFC loss last time out when he faces Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Night 174. Defeat is nothing new to Wood, as he has comeback from three stoppage defeats while fighting for BAMMA earlier in his career, and as a result shouldn’t be overawed by the feeling. The Morden born Bantamweight is trained by British MMA icon Brad Pickett at Team Titan, where he has developed an all action pressuring style that he himself has described as ‘controlled aggression’. Rising up the rankings with three submission wins, Wood recovered from a long injury layoff and was expected to steamroll veteran John Dodson, only for the 35 year old to roll back the years and KO Wood in the final round. Wood will now welcome the undefeated Nurmagomedov (12-0), younger cousin of lightweight champion Khabib, to the UFC, with a win putting him back on track to ascend the bantamweight division.