The UFC returns to London and the city’s O2 Arena on March 18th with Fight Night 107.
So far, the card is without a headline attraction, but on Wednesday a whopping six bouts were officially announced, featuring no less than seven English fighters.
London’s own Brad Pickett(25-13), who lost a unanimous decision to retiring legend Urijah Faber in Sacramento last month, called for a slot on this card during a recent episode of his podcast. Having sampled the atmosphere surrounding Faber’s hometown send-off, ‘One-Punch’ indicated that he was looking to bow-out in similar fashion at the O2.
The UFC have granted him the opportunity to do so. The veteran will take on Mexico’s Henry Briones(16-6-1) in a bantamweight contest.
Briones returned to action at UFC Fight Night 98 after some 16 months out through injury, only to suffer his second straight defeat. The Mexican was stopped in the third round by Brazil’s Douglas Andrade. In his previous defeat, Briones acquitted himself well, becoming the first man to go the distance with Cody Garbrandt.
At 155lbs, exciting English prospect Marc Diakiese(11-0) will look to move to 3-0 in the UFC when he takes on once-beaten Finn Teemu Packalen(8-1).
Diakiese, the former BAMMA lightweight champion, scored a vicious stoppage win over Poland’s Lukasz Sajewski in his UFC debut and followed that up with a decision victory over Frankie Perez in Albany, New York last month.
Packalen made his promotional debut in July 2015, losing a decision to France’s Mickael Lebout but he rebounded to beat another Frenchman, Thibault Gouti, via submission in just 24 seconds last February.
At 170lbs, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards(12-3) will face Brazilian Vincente Luque(11-5-1).
Birmingham’s Edwards has won 4 of 5 since making an unsuccessful UFC debut in November 2014. His only defeat during that run came against hot prospect Kamaru Usman.
Luque is also on a fine run of form. ‘The Silent Assassin” has won four in a row, all inside the distance, since a loss to Mike Graves at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale in July of 2015.
Two 185-pound bouts have also been added to the card.
In his middleweight debut, England’s Tom Breese(10-1) takes on Nigerian-born Oluwale Bamgbose(6-2).
Breese joined the UFC as a welterweight and rattled off 3 straight wins, moving his record to 10-0. His unbeaten run as a professional was brought to an end in June of last year, however, as Sean Strickland handed the Tristar fighter a split decision defeat at UFC 199. Breese subsequently made the decision to ascend the 15lbs to middleweight.
His opponent, Bamgbose, wasn’t matched easy in his maiden UFC bout, as he faced Uriah Hall. Bamgbose was stopped inside 3 minutes. He got things back on track in his second promotional outing, scoring a first-round stoppage win of his own over Daniel Sarafian. Another loss followed, however, and the 29-year-old’s UFC career may be in jeopardy if he can’t find a way to overcome the talented Breese in March.
The other middleweight contest added to the card is an all-English clash, with Scott Askham(14-3) taking on Brad Scott(10-4).
Askham has been exciting if inconsistent during his UFC run, which started with a decision loss to Magnus Cedenblad in October 2014. Since then he has scored two stoppage wins, over Antonio dos Santos Jr. and Chris Dempsey, and dropped two further decisions.
Scott is also 2-3 in the promotion, with all of his losses coming via decision and both his wins occurring inside the distance. He submitted Michael Kuiper and Dylan Andrews in impressive fashion, but dropped decisions to Robert Whittaker, Claudio Silva and Krzysztof Jotko, whom also holds a win over Askham.
The final bout that was added during this barrage is a light-heavyweight contest between undefeated Londoner Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart(7-0) and Francimar Barroso(18-5).
Stewart made his debut at UFC Fight Night 100 against, well, actually, Barroso, but the bout ended in a no-contest. It initially looked as though Stewart had scored a TKO victory, however, the result was changed after it was ruled that an accidental headbutt had been a part of the fight-ending salvo.
So the UFC have decided that the pair will do it all over again.
#UFCLondon is looking fun!! ?? ?
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) January 11, 2017
These six fights join Jimi Manuwa vs Corey Anderson and Joseph Duffy vs Rez Madadi on what is shaping up to be a very exciting card.