[Opinion] The Morning After The Night Before At UFC London… How The Brits Fared

There were mixed fortunes for the British fighters last evening, here's a view from the sidelines....

The latest UFC London fight card is in the books and the crowd in the O2 Arena last evening were treated to another night of drama filled action.

The card was much maligned for much plenty of the build up, but when it came to down to it the 20 fighters that stepped into the Octagon (21 if you include the highly enthusiastic Chris Bungard), delivered some thrilling action and produced some memorable moments.

Here’s how it all went down for the Brits last evening…

Nad Narimani

The night that never was. I can’t ever imagine what it’s like to be gearing yourself up for the fight of your life only to have it whipped away from you at the last second. Haqparast’s infectious eye condition couldn’t have been helped and it was a delight to see Nad Narimani take it in his stride and smile his way around the fighter hotel afterwards last evening. At the post-fight press conference, UFC executive David Shaw confirmed Nad will get another crack and it’s likely to be May 27 in Liverpool. Nad didn’t get the fight he bravely stepped up for, but he was a total professional all week. His time will come.

Mark Godbeer

Mistakes are punished at the highest level and that’s a lesson Mark Godbeer learned the hard way last evening. He looked to have Sosnovskiy exactly where he wanted him on a few occasions last night and showed a lot of improved decision making in the grappling exchanges where he’d previously fallen foul. Defeat will sting for the big man from Bridgwater, especially when he knows deep down he was the better of the two fighters in the Octagon last night. He’s going to have to dig deep to get himself back at again but he’s more than capable of righting the wrongs.

Stevie Ray

Did you agree with the Stevie Ray decision? Unfortunately, us press in the back were conducting interviews at the time so it’s difficult to offer a totally accurate assessment of the fight. From what I saw in round one, Johnson’s movement was incredibly frustrating for the Scot and his stick and move tactic was making it hard for him to put any sort of combinations together. The rest, which I saw out the corner of my eye, looked to be more of the same, but with Ray catching the Canadian and doing more damage on more occasions than Johnson gave back. It was obviously a razor tight decision and it just didn’t go the way of Ray. I’m sure Stevie is disappointed and likely frustrated, but he’s going to return stronger and to be honest given the last 9 months it was just a blessing to see him in the Octagon and back at work.

Paul Craig

Seriously what can you say about this? I’ve never seen a finish so dramatic given the action that had gone before it and what was on the line. Paul Craig’s last ditch triangle will go down as one of the most exciting and incredible moments in UK MMA and one of the photographers who was sat next the official timer informed MMAJunkie’s John Morgan that the clock read 14 minutes 59 seconds and 68 milliseconds when he stopped the clock. Craig was less than a third of a second from losing his job and I’m made up for him, maybe not as much as the fence jumping Bungard, but he’s one of the good guys in UK MMA and its great to see him get a new lease of life at 205-pounds. Emotions ran high all evening, but that was certainly one of the peak moments of the night.

Danny Henry

What a damn performance. How did Danny Henry not get a bonus? I don’t know the answer to that, but what he did last night was incredible. Henry let Dawodu do all the talking heading into fight night and he took him out in epic fashion to get the O2 Arena bouncing. The series of events that led to the finish showcased Henry as a true killer. Sure, he landed two big shots to set it up in quick fashion, but he never rushed at any point and once he had the neck he wasn’t letting go. Incredible. For my money, he deserved a bonus given all the attention the Canadian had heading in to the bout but whatever the case, he showed the rest of the featherweight division he’s a dangerous customer. Keep your eyes peeled on this guy.

Danny Roberts

Speaking of great performances, stand up Danny Roberts. The sound of connection of his left hand with Enkamp’s head was like no other on the night. It was pure, it was clean, and unfortunately for Enkamp it was right on the button. The young Swede has a very bright future ahead of him, but last night he ran into a man on a mission to show he can still mix it with the best at 170-pounds. Roberts is never in a bad scrap. There’s always drama and that’s what the UFC and the fans love. Get behind this guy Britain. He’s a diamond of a gentlemen outside the Octagon and last night he showed he true killed inside it. Wakanda forever.

John Phillips

No doubt the ‘I told you so’ crew will be out in full force across the Twittersphere when it comes to John Phillips. Again this was another one that a lot of us press missed as we conducted interviews in the back, but from what I saw it was incredible execution of the gameplan by Charles Byrd. Sure, Phillips will likely wake up this morning with a head full of ‘if only’s, but what’s important now is he reflects on he experience as a whole, recognises the progress he made getting his name out there and come back stronger. It’s like a mini Francis Ngannou scenario repeated. The hype and attention was there in the media, but there are still a few things to work on. This game isn’t easy in the spotlight and it’s a tough burden to carry. Phillips has the strength of character to bounce back.

Leon Edwards

Great performance from “Rocky” who given a tough test by the durable German. Leon Edwards had to grit out some tough moments after dominating the first round, but ultimately his class showed through in the third where he put Sobotta to the sword. His callout of Darren Till at the end was well timed given the May 27 fight card coming up, but I’m not sure it’s likely he will get the nod given the Liverpudlian’s no sell of the situation and the UFC’s previous promise to give him a top-10 opponent. Stranger things have happened, but Edwards can form his own path. How about Cerrone or Masvidal in July? Either one will do and he deserves the opportunity.

 Jimi Manuwa

Hands up, I was one of the people calling Jimi Manuwa’s rematch with Jan Blachowicz a fight we didn’t need to see, but boy was it good. Guts, thunder, blood and thrills and spills for the entire 15-minutes. It was epic, but the Pole ultimately just did enough in round 3 to get the nod. Despite the loss there was a big moment for Manuwa in round one. After being caught with big shot the Londoner hit the deck and in previous fights that’s usually signalled the end. What Manuwa showed last night was massive heart picking himself up and getting himself back in the fight, something we’ve seldom see him have to do before. It was an epic fight and if they booked it for a third time I’d be all in.

Editors Note…

There we have it, the tenth UFC show in the UK in the books.

What a night of action. Ups, downs, highs, lows, good moments, bad moments and everything in between. 16,000 people were in the O2 Arena last night and I was happy to be one of them. What a god damn crazy sport this is.

This is why we love it. Until Brooklyn.


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