UFC London Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Volkov vs. Werdum
Before the UFC Fight Pass main event in London, Alexander "Drago" Volkov (30-6) all but proclaimed the end of an era. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he told the press, was no longer the dominant martial art in the UFC, not nearly enough to rise to the top of the sport.
Considering his opponent was former champion Fabricio Werdum, widely regarded as the finest jiu-jitsu player in heavyweight MMA history, Volkov was practically guaranteed to leave London looking like either a prescient genius or a complete dope.
By the end of the evening on Saturday, we had our answer.
The 40-year-old Werdum tried every trick he knew. Volkov stifled them all and then cracked him with two huge right uppercuts and a vicious blow on the ground when the older man fell.
"I knew that his jiu-jitsu was very good," Volkov said in the cage after the fight. "But I worked a lot on my defense. ... Defend, defend, defend. And then attack. It worked."
While Volkov was clearly the big winner, he was far from alone. There were winners and losers up and down the card, some literal and some figurative. For the sticklers, the final results appear at the end.
Loser: Fabricio Werdum and Decency
Main eventer Fabricio Werdum was featured in a nice little video package during a slow moment between fights. There's nothing wrong with that. Getting to know the top fighters better is how you train fans to care.
The issue wasn't with the video or anything Werdum said in it. The problem was with what he was wearing.
Werdum, in front of millions of UFC fans around the world, was representing Akhmat MMA, the fight club and promotion of brutal Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. Bloody Elbow's Karim Zidan has spent years tracking Kadyrov's pernicious influence on the sport. But to see him so brazenly represented on UFC programming was a step too far.
Whatever your political beliefs, most people consider Kadyrov to be one of the worst strongmen on the planet. We don't want him in our sport.
This is how it starts. Let's stop it before it's too late.
For 15 minutes, Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa squared up and threw punches and kicks as hard as they possibly could. It was the kind of uncut, unfiltered violence that helped propel MMA into the hearts and minds of fight fans all over the world.
Maybe it wasn't always graceful. Sure, you could probably find better technique in other fights. But the bottom line is that these were two enormous, musclebound light heavyweights who laid it all out there and tried to knock each other's head off.
For Blachowicz, who lost to Manuwa in his home country of Poland back in 2015, it was sweet revenge. And the result left a third match out there as a logical bout for both men going forward.
After that display of fistic fireworks, I don't think anyone would complain.
Winner: Terrion Ware and the Luck of the Draw
After falling short against Tom Duquesnoy via unanimous decision, Terrion Ware has now lost three fights in a row. For most fighters, that earns little more than a ticket back to the independent scene.
So, what the heck is he doing in the winners' column you might ask. And rightfully so.
But if you believe in moral victories, this is exactly where Ware belongs. Yes, Ware has lost three consecutive fights. All three of them, however, were against some of the UFC's best prospects. And Ware fought all of them tough.
Normally a fighter is punished for losing his first three UFC bouts. Here's hoping Ware is the exception. I'd like to see him back in the UFC, this time against a fighter who's a little more human.
He's earned that much.
Winner: Leon Edwards and Shooting Your Shot
With one second remaining, the referee had seen enough. He stepped in to save Peter Sobotta from himself. Before this event, there had never been a three-round UFC fight stopped in the final second.
Now there have been two.
With the big stoppage win, Leon Edwards has ticked off five fights in a row. In a murderers' row like the UFC's welterweight division, that's not too shabby.
But the victory alone isn't what earns him a place in this story. Instead, it was his energetic in-cage call-out of Darren Till, the rising star who has been pegged to headline the UFC's debut in Liverpool later this year.
Will Edwards get the big fight he wants? Who can say? But he decided to shoot his shot—and you can't hope to hit the bulls-eye without at least doing that much.
Winner: Bruce Buffer
For years Bruce Buffer was his brother's keeper. He booked Michael, the most famous boxing ring announcer in the world, all over the globe.
And then a funny thing happened—UFC, too small to capture Michael's attention when it was still struggling on the fringes, fell to Bruce. Then UFC, over time, surpassed boxing as the world's premier combat sport.
The result is Bruce, in an elaborately gaudy blue suit jacket, hopping spastically around the Octagon, screaming fighters' name with a gusto that would be unbecoming if this was anything but cage fighting.
Bruce Buffer is living his best life. It might not be to my taste, but I can't help but be happy for him.
Sure, the event had some standout fights. But, then again, almost every UFC card does. The sport itself, a combination of the best and most exciting techniques from a variety of martial arts disciplines, almost guarantees it.
What it lacked, however, was fights that mattered in the bigger picture. This was a card filled with obscure fighters still trying to make their name on the world scene and local talent looking to shine in front of their compatriots.
But London isn't Utica, New York, or Fresno, California. It's a world-class city and deserves to be treated as such. The UFC has consistently brought subpar cards to the UK. It will continue to do so as long as it can sell ground beef at a filet mignon rate.
If fans in Britain want better treatment, they'll need to hit UFC with the only knockout shot they have in their arsenal—a blow right to the wallet. Want a fight card worthy of your city? Stay home, just once. I guarantee the next time UFC comes to town, it will be with a show that's worth your while.
Winner: Paul Craig and the Art of Never Giving Up
The timekeeper had signaled 10 seconds remaining in the fight. Magomed Ankalaev, a Dagestani bruiser, appeared on his way to a unanimous decision.
It was only then that Paul "Bearjew" Craig sprang into action.
With seven seconds left, crushed against the cage, he secured a triangle choke. A few heartbeats later, Ankalaev was tapping out. A single second remained on the clock when the referee jumped in to separate them.
Things can change in the Octagon just that fast.
The win was huge. That much was obvious. But in an interview with announcer Dan Hardy immediately following the bout, we learned just what it meant.
"That was the last fight of my UFC contract," Craig revealed. "First and foremost, I need that new contract."
After that win, a new contract doesn't just seem likely—it's all but guaranteed. In the UFC, fortunes can be built in seconds. What other sport can make that claim?
Alexander Volkov defeated Fabricio Werdum at 1:38 of Round 4 via KO (strikes)
Jan Blachowicz defeated Jimi Manuwa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Tom Duquesnoy defeated Terrion Ware via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Leon Edwards defeated Peter Sobotta at 4:59 of Round 3 via TKO (strikes)
Charles Byrd defeated John Phillips at 3:58 of Round 1 via submission (rear-naked choke)
Danny Roberts defeated Oliver Enkamp at 2:12 of Round 1 via KO (punch)
Danny Henry defeated Hakeem Dawodu at 0:39 of Round 1 via submission (guillotine choke)
Paul Craig defeated Magomed Ankalaev at 4:59 of Round 3 via submission (triangle choke)
Kajan Johnson defeated Stevie Ray via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dmitriy Sosnovskiy defeated Mark Godbeer at 4:29 of Round 2 via submission (rear-naked choke)