The O2 Arena will play host to two of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s top heavyweights, as Fabricio Werdum squares off with Alexander Volkov in the UFC Fight Night 127 main event on Saturday in London.
Meanwhile, Jimi Manuwa looks to bounce back from his knockout loss to Volkan Oezdemir when he rematches Jan Blachowicz in the co-headliner. Blachowicz finds himself on a two-fight winning streak, having bested Jared Cannonier and Devin Clark in consecutive appearances. The rest of the four-fight main card features a bantamweight battle pitting blue-chip prospect Tom Duquesnoy against Terrion Ware and a welterweight affair matching Leon Edwards with Peter Sobotta.
Here are five reasons to watch UFC Fight Night “Werdum vs. Volkov,” which streams to UFC Fight Pass (1:45 p.m. ET/10:45 a.m. PT) in its entirety:
Werdum and Volkov have momentum, with the winner perhaps moving into position to challenge for the UFC heavyweight championship. Werdum has won his last two fights, besting Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision and submitting Walt Harris with an armbar. Volkov has not lost since he made his UFC debut in 2016, with victories over Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve. Both men figure to come out with guns blazing, as they seek to put themselves on a collision course with the winner of the scheduled Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier superfight.
Eyes on the Prize
Manuwa undoubtedly feels determined to make another statement at Blachowicz’s expense. He took a unanimous decision from the former KSW champion at UFC Fight Night 64 a little less than three years ago. Now, Manuwa will attempt to repeat his performance and improve his positioning in the line of contenders that has formed behind the aforementioned Cormier at 205 pounds. He claimed in a recent interview that he could “stop Cormier in two rounds” and went on to call the light heavyweight champion “a short, fat wrestler.” If Manuwa can get past Blachowicz in their rematch, he can move one step closer to knocking on Cormier’s door.
At the Crossroads
Duquesnoy and Ware are set to collide in a potential crossroads bout at 135 pounds. The former returns to the Octagon following his upset loss to Cody Stamann at UFC 216 in October. Stamann has since gone on to defeat Bryan Caraway and establish himself as one of the top 15 bantamweights in the sport. On the other side of the cage, Ware has not fought since he dropped a unanimous decision to unbeaten prospect Sean O’Malley at “The Ultimate Fighter 26” Finale on Dec. 1. O’Malley has since outpointed Andre Soukhamthath to improve to 10-0. Expect Duquesnoy and Ware to bring out the best in one another.
Turning a Corner
Making his move at 170 pounds, Edwards rides a four-fight winning streak into his three-round battle with Sobotta. Since losing a unanimous decision to Kamaru Usman in December 2015, the former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion has turned away Dominic Waters, Albert Tumenov, Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena in succession. Has Edwards turned a corner? Perhaps Sobotta can provide the answer. The Dean Lister-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has gone 4-1 since returning to the UFC nearly four years ago -- a run that includes wins over Ben Saunders and former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby.
UFC Fight Night 127 like many of its predecessors has been riddled by injuries, forcing the promotion to scramble to find replacements. Dmitry Poberezhets was booked to face Mark Godbeer in a heavyweight prelim but withdrew with an injury in January. In his stead stepped the unbeaten Dmitry Sosnovskiy. The rash of withdrawals did not end there. Rustam Khabilov exited in February, leaving Kajan Johnson to face short-notice fill-in Steven Ray; Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos’ knee injury pushed him to the sidelines and gave substitute Bradley Scott the chance to challenge Jack Marshman; and Alex Reyes departed with an injury, leaving Nasrat Haqparast to face Nad Narimani.