A Look Back At UFC London 2019
By Jack Maher
With the UFC London card scheduled for March 21st officially being cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, cancellations of following events and current government bans on mass gatherings mean there is strong doubt we will get to see a rescheduled UFC London card this year.
If we have to wait until early 2021 to see the octagon touch down on British soil, then it will be around two years since the last UFC event in the nation’s capital.
Last years UFC London card, which took place on 16/3/19, provided us with many talking points and felt like a step-up from the usual quality of a London card, featuring some big-name talents.
The prelims were predominantly filled with up-and-coming British talent; there were wins for Mike Grundy, Arnold Allen and Mark Diakiese, but the star of the prelims was Liverpool’s Molly McCann.
The fierce flyweight had lost her UFC debut, and knew she needed to make a statement, and that she did; facing Priscila Cachoeira, who was also coming off a loss.
McCann fought Cachoeira with an aggression that caught fans by surprise, which earned her praise from MMA legend Michael Bisping.
Later in the night it was announced that Bisping would be inducted in to the UFC Hall of Fame, a pioneer of the sport, Bisping was the first and to this day only British UFC champion, and had announced his retirement from the sport in 2018.
After a relatively lacklustre beginning, the main card started to pick up when London’s own Nathaniel Wood extended his UFC winning streak to three with an emphatic win over José Quinonez. Wood dropped his foe with a left in the first round, before submitting Quinonez with a rear-naked choke in the second round to put the rest of the bantamweight division on notice.
A light heavyweight bout pitted former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir against the man who would go on to challenge for the title, Dominick Reyes. Both men threw shots with intention in the early stages but struggled to properly connect, leaving them both short on energy in the fights later stages.
The fight went the distance and many fans thought Oezdemir was the rightful winner due to how he controlled the fight against the cage. Regardless of fan opinion, it was Reyes who got his hand raised, keeping his unbeaten record intact, despite looking nowhere near as good as he did against Jon Jones earlier this year.
The outspoken Leon Edwards featured in the co-main event, taking on Gunnar Nelson. The Birmingham welterweight put in a strong performance against the BJJ blackbelt, managing to hold off Nelson’s attempts to secure a submission, and even shown some impressive offensive grappling of his own. Edwards had Nelson seriously hurt towards the end of round three, and went on to win the fight on split decision, which seemed slightly harsh.
The main event of the evening was Darren Till vs Jorge Masvidal. While Masvidal had not been written off going in to the fight, the main narrative going in was how Darren Till would respond to taking his first career loss six months prior.
Till dropped Masvidal less than 20 seconds in, but Masvidal was not shook and was soon back on his feet. In the second round, Masvidal caught Till with a brutal overhand left which sent the Liverpool welterweight to the floor unconscious. This punch not only put Masvidal back in the win column, but also started a chain of events which has made him one of the companies biggest stars.
Despite the event being over, the drama was not done, as Masvidal was caught on camera in a backstage scuffle with the previously mentioned Edwards. The two were separated and neither man was seriously reprimanded for the incident.