UFC Fight Night: Aspinall vs. Tybura takes place tomorrow in London, England and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Tom Aspinall vs. Marcin Tybura
Almost exactly a year ago Aspinall’s last headlining fight against Curtis Blaydes in London rapidly turned into a nightmare when he badly injured his knee after only 15 seconds, leading to a TKO defeat that ended his five-fight winning streak. on Saturday he makes his comeback at the same venue against Tybura, who has been on a roll with two consecutive wins and 7 out of his last 8 fights.
The 30-year-old Aspinall has impressive athleticism for his size, with quickness and agility complimenting his technically sound boxing ability. It remains to be seen if his knee injury and subsequent year long layoff have any impact on his performance though. Aspinall is more than just a striker though as he’s also a solid offensive wrestler and has good ground-and-pound on the mat too.
The 37-year-old Tybura is not as athletic or as hard-hitting as Aspinall, but he compensates for that by being a reliable, consistent all-rounder with solid fundamentals on the feet and the ground as well as having good stamina and plenty of high-level experience in the UFC over the years.
Overall I feel Aspinall is the more talented fighter here and he will use his speed and power to his advantage to claim a 2nd round TKO win.
Pick: Tom Aspinall wins by TKO in Rd2.
Molly McCann vs. Julija Stoliarenko
McCann earned two impressive TKO wins in London last year and now returns on Saturday night hoping to recover from a submission defeat to Erin Blanchfield in her last fight. This time she’s facing Stoliarenko, who is struggling to keep her head above water after losing four of her last five fights.
McCann is a tough, tenacious boxer who, despite those big finishes last year, doesn’t usually have much in the way of one-punch knockout power, but can wear down her opponents with her gritty, hard-nosed approach over three rounds. McCann sometimes like to mix in some wrestling too, but she isn’t the most technically skilled in that regard so it only works against a certain level of opposition and can get her in trouble against more refined wrestlers and grapplers.
With that in mind she should proceed with caution on the mat against Stoliarenko as she is very grappling-orientated and has a strong record of submitting opponents, accounting for 9 of her 10 career wins. She doesn’t have much of a wrestling game to get the fight to the ground though and on the feet her striking ability lacks real bite.
McCann is the kind of fighter who thrives on the support of a home crowd and if she can avoid going to the ground with Stoliarenko I think she should be able to outstrike her to win by decision here.
Pick: Molly McCann wins by decision.
Nathaniel Wood vs. Andre Fili
Wood has won two fights in a row since moving to the featherweight division, while Fili has had some ups and downs of late, but did edge out Bill Algeo by split decision in his last fight.
Wood is a crisp, high-volume striker with good boxing and solid kicks, and is fast, which helps makes up for the fact he’s not the biggest 145-pounder. Wood also has good takedown defense to help keep the fight standing.
Fili is a seasoned UFC fighter who is 5 inches taller and longer than Wood. He’s not as active as Wood offensively and isn’t the hardest-hitter, but he can counter-strike well with his punches and kicks from distance, and he’s also a capable wrestler too, though it’s not usually his preferred option.
This fight could be interesting if Fili takes Wood down, but I think it will mostly stay on the feet and Wood will outwork and outland Fili to earn a decision win.
Pick: Nathaniel Wood to win by decision.
Paul Craig vs. Andre Muniz
Muniz and Craig are both coming off losses that ended their 6-fight win streaks. In Craig’s case he has actually suffered back-to-back defeats and that’s prompted him to move down to middleweight for this fight.
Both men are known for being very dangerous on the ground, with a combined 28 submission wins in their careers. Craig has a particular knack for locking up triangle chokes, even when his opponents know it’s coming. That accounts for 4 of his UFC wins and many more before that, but there are major flaws in Craig’s game as he struggles to get the fight to the mat due to his weak wrestling ability, while on the feet his striking output is low and consists mainly of telegraphed strikes that lack both speed and power.
Muniz is more well-rounded and athletic than Craig. He can strike more effectively and has good wrestling skills, but of course it’s his grappling that is his strongest suit and he even made headlines by breaking the arm of BJJ legend Jacare Souza with an armbar, in the UFC.
Craig’s submission threat should never be counted out, but Muniz will be comfortable mixing it up with him on the mat and should fair a lot better than his opponent on the feet, leading to a 1st round finish by either submission or strikes.
Pick: Andre Muniz wins by submission in Rd1.
Jai Herbert vs. Fares Ziam
Herbert has fought in London in his last three UFC bouts with mixed results, earning a win, a loss and a draw, while Ziam gets his first taste of competing in the UK after compiling a 3-2 record in the UFC so far.
Both men are primarily kickboxers who like to use their height and reach. The 35-year-old tends to lean more towards boxing and is the heavier hitter and will look to press the action looking for a finish. Ziam, 26, is more of a pure kickboxer who uses his kicks well and has a more technical and measured style.
The ground game is neither man’s forte, but they can both wrestle offensively if required and Ziam also has some submission skills too.
This should be a closely fought striking battle and I think Ziam will make good use of his kicks on the outside to help win a close decision.
Pick: Fares Ziam to win by decision.
Lerone Murphy vs. Joshua Culibao
Murphy has yet to be beaten in his 13-fight career, including having compiled four victories and a draw in the UFC so far. Now he looks to maintain that form against Culibao, who has won his last three fights in the promotion.
Murphy is a very good athlete and a skilled striker who uses his boxing skills to deliver powerful punches, but also mixes in kicks to his arsenal too. Murphy can also go for takedowns and has effective ground-and-pound, but his own takedown defense still needs work and he can have difficulties escaping back to his feet when he’s held down.
Culibao is not as athletic or physically impressive as Murphy, but he is also a good kickboxer who likes to pressure his opponents, has solid power in his strikes and good stamina, while he is capable on the ground either.
Culibao is not an easy man to beat, but I think the more athletic Murphy will edge it by landing the more impactful strikes in the earlier rounds to help him secure a decision victory.
Pick: Lerone Murphy wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Davey Grant vs. Daniel Marcos
Danny Roberts vs. Jonny Parsons
Marc Diakiese vs. Joel Alvarez
Michael Parkin vs. Jamal Pogues
Makhmud Muradov vs. Bryan Barberena
Ketlen Vieira vs. Pannie Kianzad
Chris Duncan vs. Yanal Ashmouz
Shauna Bannon vs. Bruna Brasil
Jafel Filho vs. Daniel Barez