Some of the most memorable moments in UFC history have taken place in London.
On Saturday night, the UFC will be back in London for a UFC Fight Night event headlined by Tom Aspinall’s matchup with Marcin Tybura. The event offers chances for brand-new UFC fighters to join London’s illustrious roster.
The UFC’s international tour now frequently visits London; the event on Saturday will be the fourth time in the past 16 months that the promotion has been over the Atlantic. There has been a significant increase in UFC events held in London. In the 30-year existence of the organisation, the UFC has made 15 trips to the city, including this weekend.
World champions competing at home, highlight-reel wins against the odds, and career turnarounds. Crowds in London have seen almost everything that mixed martial arts has to offer firsthand.
Let’s review five UFC London events from the past that deserve to go down in history.
The first visit
There can only be one “first,” and UFC 38 is notable for being the first UFC event to take place in the UK. On July 13, 2002, the “Brawl at the Hall” card was held at Royal Albert Hall. The main event was a rematch between Matt Hughes and Carlos Newton, the UFC welterweight champions. Eight months earlier, during their first encounter, Hughes was caught in a triangle choke while still standing, and Newton was rendered unconscious as a result. However, it’s thought that Hughes was strangled unconscious and instead of slamming Newton on purpose, fell.
There was no question who was the better fighter after their rematch in London. Hughes successfully defended his championship and put a stop to the conflict with a Round 4 TKO. A young future UFC heavyweight champion called Frank Mir was stopped in the first round of UFC 38 by the promotion’s first British fighter Ian Freeman.
Michael Bisping survives the spider’s web
Bisping’s Cinderella moment came when he unexpectedly defeated Luke Rockhold to win the UFC middleweight title. However, the bout that came before it provided another career-defining milestone for Britain’s first UFC champion. At UFC Fight Night on February 27, 2016, Bisping overcame his underdog status and withstood a horrendous flying knee to defeat the legendary Anderson Silva. Bisping performed admirably for the first three rounds, but in the last few seconds of Round 3, he made a critical mistake. In order to retrieve his dropped mouthpiece, Bisping requested the referee. His lack of concentration allowed “The Spider” to launch a flying knee that took the Englishman to the ground. Silva left the ring and leaped the fence in joy, but the fight had not been stopped. At the moment the round’s buzzer sounded, Silva connected with a punch. The break gave Bisping vital recovery time, which ultimately helped him win a close decision.
Carlos Condit KOs Dan Hardy in enemy territory
In all of combat sports, there might not be a moniker more fitting than “The Natural Born Killer.” Condit’s most remarkable career run came to a close with his classic highlight-reel knockout of Hardy. Condit had a 13-1 record from 2006 to 2012. During that memorable run, Hardy defeated Nick Diaz for the interim welterweight title, won four fights as the WEC welterweight champion, and knocked out Rory MacDonald, Dong Hyun Kim, and of course Hardy three times in a row.
After suffering a bruising but lopsided defeat to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, Hardy returned to England. On October 16, 2010, Condit and Hardy faced up in the co-main event of UFC 120. The closing 30 seconds of the first round saw the opponents exchange left hooks. The only difference between the equally timed punches was that Condit’s one landed clean. As Condit celebrated one of the most iconic knockouts by single punch in UFC history, Hardy collapsed to the mat.
Leon Edwards completes his trilogy with Kamaru Usman at home
At UFC 278 in Salt Lake City on August 20, 2022, Edwards tied his series with Kamaru Usman, continuing England’s history of stunning title upsets. Before unleashing a Hail Mary head kick with 56 seconds left in the bout, Edwards had significantly trailed Usman in the scorecards. It also gave England a second UFC championship and gave rise to the phrase “Headshot, dead.”
Seven months later, at the O2 Arena, barely two hours from Edwards’ Birmingham home, Edwards vs. Usman 3 took place. Another headshot was avoided during the bout, but Edwards managed to edge out a timid Usman. Although the fight’s content won’t be remembered favourably, Edwards finishing the trilogy in front of his fellow Englishmen is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Jorge Masvidal reboots career, hands out a three-piece and soda
Masvidal may be a charismatic knockout artist in the eyes of more recent fight fans, but it wasn’t always the name that people connected with “Gamebred.” Masvidal was only permitted to work as a journeyman before he reinvented himself in 2019. Following decision losses to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson, Masvidal took a break for a year and a half before making a comeback to take on Liverpool’s Till in London. Midway through Round 2, Masvidal rushed forward with a combination that lifted Till’s head off the ground. After 46 fights, it was a wonderful moment of victory for the underdog. Masvidal’s career-reigniting effort launched an exciting 2019 in which he defeated Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz his route to winning the BMF title.
If killing Till wasn’t enough to make headlines, Masvidal got into another altercation backstage. Masvidal abandoned a Laura Sanko interview to perform a combo on Edwards, which became known as “three-piece and a soda,” and left Edwards with a laceration under his left eye.
Honorable mention: The Volkov vs. Aspinall UFC fight. The UFC made its first trip back to London in three years with a card packed with fighters from this country. Tom Aspinall, Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblett, and Molly McCann, among others, were propelled to victory by the fervent British crowd. The excitement at the O2 Arena inspired UFC to make three additional trips there over the course of the following 18 months.