5 Defining Moments: UFC Events in London

By J.R. Ventura Mar 16, 2018

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has touched down in London nine times ahead of UFC Fight Night 127 on Saturday at the O2 Arena. Former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum will headline the promotion’s latest event across the pond, while British light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa rematches Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event.

The city loves its MMA, and the UFC has brought some of its best and brightest to the banks of the River Thames, from Matt Hughes and Michael Bisping to Anderson Silva and Alexander Gustafsson. In doing so, it has created a number of memorable moments. Here are five of them:

1. Brawl at the Hall

UFC 38 on July 13, 2002 was the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event held in the United Kingdom and the second to be held outside the United States. Welterweight champion Matt Hughes met Carlos Newton in a rematch atop the card, as he retained his title with a fourth-round technical knockout. Other winners included Renato Sobral, Evan Tanner, Genki Sudo and Mark Weir, who delivered a 10-second knockout against Eugene Jackson. Meanwhile, Frank Mir, then an up-and-coming heavyweight, suffered his first pro defeat when he succumbed to punches from Ian Freeman.

2. Bedlam

Although it was riddled by injuries, UFC 85 on June 7, 2008 made its share of headlines. Hughes accepted a short-notice assignment and locked horns with Thiago Alves at a 174-pound catchweight after the scale did not agree with the Brazilian. It was a turning point in the careers of both men, as the overweight Alves wiped out Hughes with a flying knee in the second round and pocketed a $50,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus. The event also saw Bisping stop Jason Day with first-round punches and Werdum do the same with Brandon Vera.

3. Counting Stats

Fans flocked to the O2 Arena for UFC 120 on Oct. 16, 2010, as the event was anchored by two local attractions: Bisping and Dan Hardy. It marked the debut of the UFC Fan Expo in the United Kingdom and set a new European attendance record with a crowd of 17,133. Bisping battled Yoshihiro Akiyama in a main event that went the distance and saw “The Count” walk away with a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Hardy took on former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit in the co-headliner. Unfortunately for “The Outlaw” and his followers, Hardy ate the canvas after being struck down with a nasty left hook from “The Natural Born Killer.”

4. Posterized

Gustafsson toed the line against Manuwa in a showdown between light heavyweight contenders in the UFC Fight Night 37 headliner on March 8, 2014. Manuwa entered the cage with a perfect 14-0 record that included 10 first-round finishes. Looking to reboot following his heartbreaking loss to Jon Jones some five months earlier, Gustafsson channeled his inner “Mauler” and knocked out Manuwa with a knee strike and follow-up punches in the second round. The win earned the Swede $100,000 in bonuses for “Knockout of the Night” and “Performance of the Night.”

5. Final Hurdle

UFC Fight Night 84 on Feb. 27, 2016 featured a Bisping-Silva main event that would catapult “The Count” to an elusive title shot. The future hall of famers went all five rounds on a fight card filled with decisions, as Bisping escaped with a contentious unanimous verdict over “The Spider.” He survived a close call at the end of Round 3, where he nearly bought the farm on the end of a Silva knee strike. Nevertheless, all three judges scored it 48-47 in Bisping’s favor. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner went on to upset Luke Rockhold for the middleweight championship three months later.
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