Headliner Tom Aspinall, social media sensations Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann and feared former amateur champion Muhammad Mokaev are among the UK stars of the show when UFC action returns to the English capital on Saturday.
UFC London features Salford powerhouse Aspinall’s heavyweight bout with Curtis Blaydes at the top of the bill, with Scottish scrapper Paul Craig also taking on Volkan Oezdemir on the main card.
The card is the second time a UFC event has been held in the UK this year after Aspinall scored an impressive first-round win over Alexander Volkov at the O2 Arena on March 19.
As the most high-profile MMA promotion returns to the venue, The Sporting News takes a look at how Pimblett and McCann are extending Liverpool and the UK’s fighting reputation.
Do Scousers have the best chins in the UFC?
Liverpudlians have suffered the lowest percentage of knockout defeats of any UK city, according to data from LiveScore Bet.
With just 13% of their losses coming via KO or TKO, the record puts Scouse fighters ahead of counterparts from Nottingham, London and Birmingham.
Paddy Pimblett: The Scouse Conor McGregor?
Pimblett’s knockout-free career has continued since the 27-year-old knocked out Luigi Vendramini on his UFC debut in September 2021.
Another first-round win followed in his scrap for the promotion since then, beating Rodrigo Vargas by submission on the undercard of Aspinall’s victory.
Lightweight Pimblett made his full bow at bantamweight in 2012 and has suffered three defeats in 21 MMA fights on his way to accumulating more than a million Instagram followers thanks to his devil-may-care charm and outrageous antics.
Pimblett is typically confident about his UFC future, predicting this week that he is already a huge pay-per-view star who will have an extended absence from the UK until he returns to fight at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.
Victory over Jordan Leavitt is the next target for the newcomer who rejected comparisons with Conor McGregor — still the best-known fighter in the sport — this year.
“Kids look at McGregor and see a big, hard fella with loads of tattoos,” Pimblett told the Guardian. “Kids have got long, floppy hair, they haven’t got tattoos. They can identify with me.”
Molly McCann: ‘Meatball’ MMA star targeting champions
McCann and Pimblett have known each other for decades and train together at the Next Generation MMA gym in the centre of Liverpool.
The pair passionately support each other inside and outside the cage, seeing themselves as ambassadors for the city they are proud of and role models for youngsters from humble backgrounds.
Flyweight McCann started fighting at fully fledged level in 2015, winning a Cage Warriors title in her final fight before joining the UFC in 2018.
A brutal spinning elbow knockout of Luana Carolina in March sent McCann’s already high profile rocketing. Of her three defeats in eight fights for the promotion, two have come by decision and one by submission.
McCann sees Valentina Shevchenko as the woman to beat by a considerable distance but said this week that she is determined to earn the belt, starting with a meeting with Hannah Goldy at the O2.
Which UK fighters have lit up the UFC?
A familiar face as a commentator now, Mancunian Michael Bisping remains the only British fighter to have won a UK title, knocking out Luke Rockhold in 2016 to win the middleweight belt.
Bisping was later inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and has watched on as numerous entertaining fighters have attempted to emulate him.
As well as McCann, Pimblett, Mokaev and Aspinall are among the fighters whose chances of becoming the second UK champion will draw closer with a win on Saturday.
Leon Edwards has hammered Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz and is regularly mentioned as a would-be challenger for Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title.
After winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2009, Ross Pearson became known for tear-ups with the likes of Edson Barboza during a nine-year UFC spell.
One of the fighters who has inspired UFC London combatant Nathaniel Wood, Brad Pickett, was frequently feted by the president of the promotion, Dana White.
The routinely provocative Darren Till challenged Tyron Woodley and Dan Hardy performed creditably against all-time great Georges St-Pierre, while Joanne Wood was a trailblazer, becoming the first Scottish UFC fighter in December 2013.