The stage has been set for the UFC to return to the UK since Jorge Masvidal’s famous knockout victory over Darren Till before a backstage scuffle with Leon Edwards, described by the Miami-native as serving him a “three-piece with a soda.”
It was not meant to be due to the travel restrictions within the UK, so instead the Brits travel across the pond to the home of the UFC, Las Vegas. Eight British fighters fill a stacked card at UFC Vegas 34, with the main event being the middleweight clash between Derek Brunson and Till. It’s a must-win fight for the ‘Gorilla’, but there’s plenty of guaranteed entertainment, as fellow Liverpudlians Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett also feature.
Till fights in the middleweight division once again against a dangerous opponent in Brunson, a man that’s sometimes seen as a gatekeeper for the division as he’s come up short against future title contenders, but has only lost four fights since joining the UFC in 2012. Till’s last bout saw him lose by a decision to former champion Robert Whittaker in a brutal five-round slog.
Brunson also doesn’t need to fight for his life in the Octagon, as he’s currently just two fights into a six-fight deal, meaning that regardless of results, he will be back. Till on the other hand recently pulled out of his fight against Italy’s Marvin Vettori due to a broken collarbone, and although he received plaudits for his fight against Whittaker, there’s a sense that time is running out for Till if he wants another title shot.
Verdict: Darren Till to win (8/11)
‘Meatball’ Molly McCann is sure to get fans excited once again with her incredibly intense fighting style, this time facing ‘Fire Fist’ Ji Yeon Kim who hasn’t been without issues since joining the UFC. Kim has fought at catchweight twice in the UFC after missing weight, however, she’s tended to perform well in battles on the ground, despite losing three times on decision.
McCann’s ten career wins have seen her win six times by decision, with a tendency for her fights to turn into wars of attrition and an incredible amount of stamina on show. Nobody has ever left a McCann fight without being entertained.
The third Liverpudlian on the card is Paddy Pimblett, the young exciting Cage Warriors regular who makes his UFC debut against Brazil’s Luigi Vendramini. With eight submission finishes as well as four KO/TKOs, Pimblett has caught the attention of British UFC fans for his passionate post-fight interviews as well as the intelligent fighting style that’s seen him become a Cage Warriors cult hero, drawing comparisons with former UFC & Cage Warriors Champion, Conor McGregor.
In front of him is Luigi ‘The Italian Stallion’ Vendramini, who entered the UFC with an undefeated record and a variety of finishes under his belt. It’ll be a tough start but Pimblett’s confidence and ability will surely see him have his arm raised on his first night.
Manchester’s Lerone Murphy undefeated career gets tested again, this time by Canadian featherweight, Charles Jourdain. Scotland’s “Bearjew” Paul Craig comes hot off an incredible arm-snapping submission over Jamahal Hill (before going for a few pints together afterward) and now faces former heavyweight title contender, Alexander Gustafsson.
Wales’ Jack Shore joins Lerone Murphy in defending his unbeaten record against Dagestan’s Said Nurmagomedov. Mark ‘Bonecrusher’ Diakese faces off against Rafael Alves. Another student of Liverpool’s Team Kaobon, Tom Aspinall, also continues his exciting UFC career, after flying through his three UFC opponents so far. He’ll be facing Russia’s Sergei Pavlovich who shares a similar record.