The UFC made a triumphant return to London, England on Saturday with a card that delivered so many big finishes that Dana White opted to award a record-breaking nine performance bonuses.
That included a bonus for main event winner Tom Aspinall, who proved he’s the real deal in the heavyweight ranks with a first round armlock submission win over Alexander Volkov, marking his fifth win in a row inside the Octagon.
Another UK fighter Arnold Allen also excelled in the co-main event, putting on his best performance to date as he abandoned his typically more methodical approach in favor of attacking Dan Hooker with all guns blazing in the opening round after dazing him with a punch. Hooker showed remarkable durability to stay standing despite being rocked multiple times with punches and even a head kick, but ultimately the referee had to step in and save him from this savage beatdown for afirst round TKO finish.
Paddy Pimblett received a hero’s reception during his walk-in to the Octagon and ensured the fans continued to have plenty to cheer about, despite having a shaky start when Kazula Vargas hurt him with a punch early, which soon led to the Brit having to fight off his back.
Pimblett quickly rallied by getting back to his feet, throwing Vargas to the mat and then getting to his back to sink in a fight-ending rear-naked choke submission>
Rallied on by the passionate home fan base, UK fighters were on fire at this event, and none more-so than Molly McCann who rocked Luana Carolina with a punch early in the fight and then threw everything but the kitchen sink at her in search of a finish in the minutes that followed.
Carolina survived though and while McCann remained a threat there was a sense by the third round that her earlier exertions might have taken a toll on her gas tank, and her opponent suddenly had a spring in her step as she went on the offensive.
That all changed in the blink of an eye however when McCann suddenly unleashed a spinning elbow that landed flush and knocked Carolina out cold in what may well prove to be an early contender for Knockout Of The Year.
Ilia Topuria had accepted a short-notice fight up a weight class with Jai Herbert at the event and in the opening round it looked like that may not have been the best decision as his much-larger opponent hurt him with big strikes, but the undefeated Topuria dug deep and in the second round put all of his power into a combination, landing a heavy body shot followed by a perfectly placed right hook that collapsed Herbert to the canvas for the KO finish.
Sergei Pavlovich secured his performance bonus after getting Shamil Abdurakhimov to the mat in the opening round and blasting him with big ground and pound punches until the TKO stoppage.
Meanwhile, Paul Craig caught yet another opponent in his deadly triangle choke after Nikita Krylov got overzealous in pursuit of a ground-and-pound finish on the mat in the first round of their fight.
And in the opening fight of the card, Muhammad Mokaev got the festivities off to a strong start with a quick guillotine choke submission against Cody Durden at the 0.58min mark of the opening round.