The UFC is officially returning to England’s capital on February 27th. Joe Carr, Vice President of International at UFC, said in a statement: “UFC and MMA have enjoyed a phenomenal level of success and growth across Europe in recent years and London remains a particularly important market for us.”
The UFC has hosted seven shows in London. The most recent, UFC Fight Night 37 which took place on March 2014 and was headlined by Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa.
With the UFC’s return imminent, we take a look at potential match ups for UFC Fight Night 83.
Neil Seery vs. Wilson Reis
Fan favourite Seery (16-11 MMA) earned his first post fight bonus at UFC Fight Night 76, submitting Jon Delos Reyes picking up a ‘Performance of the Night’ $50K cheque. The 36-year-old has won seven of his past nine fights and has offset decision losses to Louis Smolka and Brad Pickett with wins over Reyes, Chris Beal and Phil Harris. Following his latest win in Dublin, Seery suggested that he would not make it to the top of the division and would rather put on exciting fights for his adoring fans, therefore a matchup with Wilson Reis in London should provide the fireworks that Seery is looking for. Reis (19-6 MMA), who is known for putting on exciting fights is coming off a loss however that should not deter the UFC from putting this fight together. Prior to dropping a unanimous decision to #3 ranked Jussier Formiga at UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Alves, Reis won a unanimous decision over Joby Sanchez before submitting Scott Jorgensen at UFC 179. The fight between Seery and Reis would have potential ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it, and who would begrudge Neil Seery another post fight bonus?
Aisling Daly vs. Felice Herrig
Another fighter whose stock skyrocketed following the UFC’s return to Dublin was Irish strawweight Aisling Daly. Fighting in front of her Irish countrymen and women at UFC Fight Night 76, Daly (16-6 MMA) didn’t disappoint the raucous crowd, including UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor, taking a unanimous decision victory over Ericka Almeida. Currenly ranked #15 in the UFC women’s strawweight division its time for Daly to get a win over a ranked opponent and a fight with Felice Herrig makes a lot of sense. Herrig (10-6) is currently ranked one place ahead of Daly at #14 and appeared on the same season of the Ultimate Fighter as the Dublin native. Although Herrig is coming off a loss to Paige VanZant at UFC on FOX 15, she should provide Daly with a stern test to see whether the Dubliner can make a run at the 115lb strap.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Rafael Cavalcante
It has been a tough run of late for English light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa. Manuwa (15-2 MMA) faced former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson in the main event at UFC Fight Night 37 on 8 March 2014 in London losing the fight via TKO in the second round, resulting in the first loss of his professional career. Despite the defeat, Manuwa earned his first Fight of the Night bonus for the fight. After over a year away from the sport, following multiple injuries Manuwa returned to face Jan Błachowicz on 11 April 2015 at UFC Fight Night 64. Manuwa won the fight via unanimous decision, this is the first time Manuwa has gone the distance in his MMA career.In his most recent bout Manuwa faced Anthony Johnson on 5 September 2015 at UFC 191 losing fight via KO in the second round. Manuwa needs an opponent at UFC London that is going to make him look good and that guy could be Rafael Cavalcante. This would be a great standing war between two ranked opponents coming off of losses. A win over the still #13 Cavalcante will put Manuwa right back the track towards being a contender.
Paul Redmond vs. Mickael Lebout
Following two losses in a row, Paul Redmond may have thought his days in the UFC were numbered however as reported by Peter Carroll of SevereMMA, ‘Redser’ is making the move from 145lbs up to 155lbs to hopeful prolong his run under the biggest MMA organisation in the world. Redmond recently spent some time training at Tristar, home of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in a big to improve whilst not having a fight lined up. Following a short notice loss to Mirsad Bektic and a loss to hometown here Robert Whiteford in Glasgow, Redmond should be matched with Mickael Lebout in London. Lebout (14-5 MMA) is coming off a loss to Steven Ray at UFC Dublin and a fight with Redmond would give one fighter a chance to rebuild their UFC career whilst the loser may get their walking papers.
Tom Breese vs. Tim Means-John Howard winner
No fighter on the most recent UFC Dublin roster was more impressive than the undefeated Breese, who dominated the notoriously tough to finish Cathal Pendred for a first-round technical knockout. Breese who also trains at Tristar in Montreal took apart a bloodied Pendred before finishing the fight with a body kick and follow-up punches. Just 24 years of age, Breese has the look of a potential star at 170 pounds and under the tutalege of Firas Zahabi the sky could be the limit for the Birmingham born fighter. Tim Means vs. John Howard takes place at UFC Fight Night 80 in December and the winner could provide Breese with a sturn test in his home country.
Michael Bisping vs. Anderson Silva
Who else could headline a London card but Michael Bisping? And a bout with former middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva could prove a blockbuster main event for the UFC’s return to London. Bisping (27-7 MMA) is currently riding a two fight winning streak, a feat he has not achieved since 2011 after trading wins and losses since. Wins over CB Dolloway and Thales Leites once again have Bisping calling for a big fight in the stacked UFC middleweight division, and it doesnt get much bigger than former champion Anderson Silva. Silva is currently serving a drugs ban after testing positive for steroids before and after his win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 and Bisping had initially said he had no interest in facing a man who had been caught using PEDs however seems to have had a change of heart recently. The UFC maybe looking to stack the deck in their return to London and a Michael Bisping vs. Anderson Silva headline act would be a good way to start.