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UFC London: 5 must-see fights on March 16 UFC fight card

Jason Burgos

UFC London will see the MMA world leader bring big-time cage fighting action to the United Kingdom for the first time in three years. And the UFC has packed their card on Saturday night with some of the very best UK-based talents on the roster, to reward one of their most devoted fanbases.

Nearly every bout features a fighter from Europe, and several of those scraps are worth your television viewing time. With that in mind, here are the five must-see fights on the March 16 UFC fight card in London, England.

Alexander Volkov (34-9) vs. Tom Aspinall (11-2)

If you need any more proof of how high fans and oddsmakers are on Tom Aspinall, look no further than him being a betting favorite in his main event bout against former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov. England hasn’t had many UFC fighters reach the level of a legitimate contender. And none have been heavyweights.

Aspinall could be England’s first heavyweight title challenger in 2022 if he beats Volkov, and wins a fifth straight inside the Octagon. The Russian is a serious test, and if Aspinall can jump into the top-10 of the division off a win against a sixth-ranked fighter, he could be one more victory away from making some UFC and UK MMA history.

Paddy Pimblett (17-3) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (12-4)

Paddy Pimblett heads into his second UFC outing against Rodrigo Vargas as a massive -600 favorite (via Draft Kings). This bout is built to be another showcase of “The Baddy” as he attempts to score a highlight-reel finish in front of what will be an absolutely raucous home country crowd.

Related: UFC tonight – UFC London fight card, betting odds, and watch times

Considering the odds, “Kazula” winning would be one of the biggest upsets of 2022. However, that seems unlikely and this is a piece of matchmaking with the goal of creating a moment where the next great superstar from the UK is born.

Jack Shore (15-0) vs. Timur Valiev (18-2)

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Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Many avid MMA fans called foul on the fact that Jack Shore versus Timur Valiev was a matchup on the preliminary portion of Saturday’s UFC card inside the O2 Arena. That is how highly respected the pair of bantamweight fighters are. And it makes sense as a booking between an undefeated fighter against one who hasn’t lost in his last nine bouts.

Both are high-level prospects on the rise but Shore is the talent many are looking at and seeing star potential. If “Tank” can score a win against his stiffest test yet in the Russian, he would find himself on the 135-pound rankings bubble next week.

Arnold Allen (17-1) vs. Dan Hooker (21-11)

UFC London is a big moment in the career of Englishman Arnold Allen. He already has several notable wins on his UFC resume thus far. However, if he could score a win over Dan Hooker, a top-10 lightweight making his move back to featherweight, that would be one heck of a new pelt on the wall.

Allen is only a slight favorite at -115 because many are not sure if Hooker can be as effective making the cut to 145-pounds. If “Hangman’s” cut is successful and he wins, he immediately jumps into contender fights at featherweight later this year.

This is a big fight for both men’s career trajectories in 2022.

Nikita Krylov (27-8) vs. Paul Craig (15-4-1)

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Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Scotland’s Paul Craig is in the midst of his best run in the Octagon. He is unbeaten in his last five, hasn’t tasted defeat since 2019, and has earned finishes in his last three fights. In his bout with Nikita Krylov on Saturday, we will get a fun matchup between two talented grapplers and a serious test for Craig.

Krylov needs a win bad having lost three of his last five. If he can use his superior striking to beat the red hot “Bearjew” it could be one of his best victories ever in the Octagon. However, if Craig could force “The Miner” to tap like he has made 12 others do, he could lay claim to the status of being the best grappler in the light heavyweight division.