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UFC Fight Night: Arnold Allen and Tom Aspinall put on a show in London

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Dan Hooker, Arnold Allen trade blows early (0:44)

Dan Hooker and Arnold Allen give the London fans their money's worth in Round 1. (0:44)

This 145-pound matchup between Arnold Allen and Dan Hooker looked like a barn burner on paper -- and that's what it turned into. Although it was more one-sided than many foresaw.

Allen, of England, earned his biggest win to date, as he finished Hooker at the 2:33 mark of the opening round via strikes. The victory extended Allen's win streak in the UFC to nine.

Fighting at featherweight for the first time since 2016, Hooker took the center of the Octagon and it appeared he wanted to walk Allen down and apply pressure from the start. The 28-year-old Allen didn't back down, however, and cracked Hooker with several early shots.

Hooker, who fights out of City Kickboxing in New Zealand, responded with firepower of his own and he did briefly clip Allen with a left hook, but Allen's shots were more precise and more devastating. Hooker's nose was bloodied early and although he continued trying to come forward after he was hurt, it was the beginning of the end.

Allen hurt him again with punches and several standing elbows, good enough to bring a close to the bout. It continues a tough run for Hooker, who has been finished inside the first round in three of his last four fights and has only tasted victory once in his last five.

For Allen, it's exactly the kind of statement performance over a top name he needed to break through some of the noise at 145 pounds.

Watch Allen vs. Hooker on ESPN+ | Takeaways from UFC Fight Night in London


Other results from UFC Fight Night in London

Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall (12-2, 5-0 UFC) def. Alexander Volkov (34-10, 8-4 UFC) via submission (Watch on ESPN+)

English heavyweight Tom Aspinall has said, respectfully, no one outside of the Top 10 of his division is capable of giving him a challenge.

Well, he faced the UFC's No. 6-ranked heavyweight Saturday at the O2 in Alexander Volkov. And it looked as easy as any fight in Aspinall's career.

Aspinall (12-2) ran through Volkov (34-10) in the main event of UFC Fight Night. He peppered Volkov with boxing combinations and picked perfect moments to take him down. Once he got the fight down to the ground, he hit Volkov with nasty elbows and eventually produced a tap at the 3:45 mark with a straight armbar. For Volkov, it was his first submission loss in nearly 12 years in MMA (July 2010).

After the fight, Aspinall asked for two things: a beer and his next matchup to come against Australian fan favorite Tai Tuivasa. Aspinall, 28, only signed with the UFC in 2020, but he has roared up the rankings behind five consecutive finishes. Four of those five finishes have come inside the first round.


Lightweight: Paddy Pimblett (18-3, 2-0 UFC) def. Kazula Vargas (12-5, 1-3 UFC) via submission (Watch on ESPN+)

Paddy Pimblett said his walkout would electrify the English crowd at UFC Fight Night on Saturday, and that his opponent, Kazula Vargas, wouldn't make it out of the first round. He made good on both claims.

Pimblett (18-3) earned his second win in the UFC at the O2 Arena, as he submitted Vargas (12-5) via rear-naked choke at 3:49 of the opening round. The sellout crowd, which chanted "Ooooh, Paddy the Baddy throughout the entire night of fights," rained down cups of beer as the lightweight fight was called.

It was not a completely easy night for the 27-year-old, however. Vargas landed a hard right hand to Pimblett's chin early and took him down. Vargas spent some time in top position, but did not land much offense from the position. Things changed once Pimblett worked up to his feet and tripped Vargas to the floor.

"It wasn't as clean as I like, but are you not entertained?" Pimblett said. "I'm never -- ever, ever, ever -- in a boring fight, lad. I got to get punched in the face. It was only a 5 or 6 out of 10. He caught me with a nice punch, and I failed on my first takedown attempt."

As far as momentum, Pimblett's second fight in the UFC was similar to his debut in September. Pimblett was rocked by Luigi Vendramini in that debut before ultimately turning it around and scoring a first-round knockout. The Liverpudlian is one of the most popular fighters in Europe, and now he's on a four-fight win streak.

"See this arena, the O2?" Pimblett said. "It's too small. Too small. Get me a stadium. Get me a stadium. Get it to Anfield [Stadium in Liverpool]. And we'll finish."


Welterweight: Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1, 9-5 UFC) def. Takashi Sato (16-5, 2-3 UFC) via unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)

It had been more than two years since he'd been in the Octagon, but Gunnar Nelson proved he is still Gunnar Nelson against Sato.

Nelson, of Iceland, looked like his old self in the win, as he dominated his way to unanimous 30-26 scorecards. The difference, as it so often has been in his career, was the grappling. He took Sato down in all three rounds of the bout and easily worked to his back. He threatened with chokes on multiple occasions, but couldn't get a finish.

Prior to his lengthy break in action, Nelson had been on a little bit of a skid. He was 1-3 over his last four, although the losses were to stellar competition in Santiago Ponzinibbio, Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns.

Nelson was originally supposed to face Brazilian Claudio Silva, but Silva was forced to withdraw and Sato took his place. Sato showed heart but he was clearly in over his head. According to UFC Stats, Nelson out-landed him in total strikes 140 to 16 and converted all three of his takedown attempts.


Women's flyweight: Molly McCann (12-4, 5-3 UFC) def. Luana Carolina (8-3, 3-2 UFC) via knockout (Watch on ESPN+)

McCann shucked off a Carolina clinch and spun. As she did, she whipped around her arm and landed the point of elbow right to Carolina's jaw. Carolina was knocked out immediately -- and McCann climbed out of the cage, ran into the O2 crowd and grabbed a replica UFC title from a fan. She brought the title back into the cage to continue her celebration, as the English fans went bonkers.

The knockout finish came at 1:52 of the third round. McCann was showing some fatigue up until the finish. Carolina was gaining momentum. But McCann put that -- and Carolina -- aside with a flourish. The spinning back elbow will surely be a knockout of the year candidate when things are all said and done.

McCann started hot, with the crowd behind her, in the first round. She went off on several punching flurries, hurting Carolina. But she was unable to put Carolina away. McCann got a takedown and a nice slam in the second round, but Carolina started to use her reach more and was landing well in the second. That continued into the third -- until McCann ended the fight with one swing of her elbow.

McCann, 31, has won two straight, five of seven and is a huge fan favorite, especially in the United Kingdom. The Liverpool native is nicknamed "Meatball Molly" because she used to work at Subway and friends said she smelled like meatballs. Carolina, a 28-year-old Brazil native, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.


Lightweight: Ilia Topuria (12-0, 4-0 UFC) def. Jai Herbert (11-4, 1-3 UFC) via TKO (Watch on ESPN+)

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Tom Aspinall celebrates with Darren Till after momentous win

Tom Aspinall wins the biggest fight of his career and then celebrates with teammate Darren Till in London.

It's been a somewhat controversial 2022 thus far for Topuria, but the 25-year-old added another emphatic win to his UFC resume Saturday.

Topuria, who was born in Germany and now fights out of Spain, knocked out England's Herbert with a right haymaker at 1:07 of the second round. Topuria, who was hurt badly himself in the opening round by a head kick, didn't have to follow Herbert to the ground with additional shots as he was out before he hit the floor.

Topuria was scheduled to fight Movsar Evloev in January at featherweight, but Evloev was replaced on short notice by Charles Jourdain. That fight was canceled, however, when Topuria had issues cutting weight. Due to the weight issues, Topuria moved up to lightweight for this fight but has said he wishes to go back down.

Those plans could be on hold, however, as Topuria called out England's Paddy Pimblett, a lightweight. The two got into a brief scuffle at the fighter hotel this week. Topuria had taken offense to comments Pimblett made on social media regarding prior diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia. Topuria is of Georgian descent.

"I want the blond b----," Topuria said.


Men's featherweight: Makwan Amirkhani (17-7, 7-5 UFC) def. Mike Grundy (12-4, 1-3 UFC) via submission (Watch on ESPN+)

Mr. Finland silenced the English crowd, which is no easy task.

Grundy shot for a single-leg takedown right from the bell. Amirkhani was quick with a counter. He grabbed Grundy's neck for a guillotine choke. When Grundy defended, Amirkhani switched to an anaconda choke, turned his hips to get into a better position and put Grundy to sleep. Referee Rich Mitchell stopped the bout via submission at just 58 seconds of the first round.

"We were fighting for our job," Amirkhani said in his postfight interview. "I just wanted it more."

Amirkhani said he's willing to return to the Octagon as early as next week. He added he's about to become a father.

Amirkhani, 33, snapped a three-fight losing streak with the quick victory. The Iran-born fighter, who lives and trains in Finland, had only one win coming in since 2019. Grundy, a 35-year-old England native, has dropped three straight following an eight-fight winning streak.


Heavyweight: Sergei Pavlovich (15-1, 3-1 UFC, -310) def. Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-7, 5-5 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)

Pavlovich, of Russia, didn't throw a terribly high number of strikes against Abdurakhimov -- but the ones he did, he made them count.

Pavlovich finished Dagestan's Abdurakhimov with strikes on the ground at 4:03 of the opening round. The finish came after Pavlovich dropped Abdurakhimov with a right hand to the chin. Abdurakhimov didn't go out from the shot right away, but he could never recover. He turtled, covered his head and tried to get up but Pavlovich put it away with punches.

It was a decisive finish for what had been a pretty tame fight to that point. Pavlovich landed 22 total strikes according to UFC Stats. Abdurakhimov landed 17.

The right hand was a clubbing weapon for Pavlovich, however, and improved his UFC record to 3-1. His only loss was against Alistair Overeem in 2018.


Light heavyweight: Paul Craig (16-4-1, 7-5-1 UFC) def. Nikita Krylov (27-9, 8-7 UFC) by first-round submission (Watch on ESPN+)

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Paddy Pimblett dazzles London crowd with win, celebrates with Molly McCann

Paddy Pimblett wins his UFC Fight Night bout in the first round and celebrates with teammate Molly McCann.

Just the way Craig drew it up.

Krylov got top position quickly and rained down hard ground-and-pound, nearly knocking Craig out at one point. But whenever Craig is on his back, he remains as dangerous as any fighter in the world in that position. Craig threw up a triangle choke submission and the overly aggressive Krylov had no choice but to tap at 3:57 of the first round.

It was Craig's fifth triangle submission in the UFC and several have come in come-from-behind fashion, including a win over Magomed Ankalaev in 2018 with just one second left in the fight.

"Remember Hulk Hogan?" Craig said, explaining his propensity for comebacks.

Afterward, Craig said he wanted to fight Anthony Smith in Glasgow next in June, a five-round main event.

The fight started hot with Krylov coming across the Octagon, landing a front kick and a punch. Craig went for a takedown, but Krylov scrambled to the top. He did good work from that position, landing hard hammer-fists and some elbows.

Craig was rocked at least once, but all he needs is his opponent to make one mistake. Craig was able to break Krylov's posture, throw up the triangle choke and force the tap.

Craig, 34, is unbeaten in six straight fights, including four straight victories. The Scotland native has stopped four straight opponents, as well, and has eight finishes overall in the UFC, tied for the fifth most in UFC light heavyweight history. Krylov, a 30-year-old Ukraine native, has dropped four of six fights.


Men's bantamweight: Jack Shore (16-0, 5-0 UFC) def. Timur Valiev (18-3 1 NC, 2-1 1 NC UFC) via unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)

Shore earned his 16th straight victory as he scored the unanimous decision over Valiev. This was only the fourth victory by decision for Shore.

Shore, who struggled in the opening round, found his groove and navigated through Valiev's pressure to secure multiple takedowns and land punches in bunches. In the third round, Shore knocked down Valiev with a hard right hand early, and connected with another combination late that sent Valiev to the canvas.

Shore now has five wins in the UFC.


Strawweight: Elise Reed (5-1, 1-1 UFC) def. Cory McKenna (6-2, 1-1 UFC) via split decision (Watch on ESPN+)

Reed earned her first UFC victory with a split-decision victory over the Wales-born McKenna. Reed, a +240 underdog according to Caesars Sportsbook, recovered from an opening-round knockdown by McKenna and was able to surge forward in the latter rounds.

McKenna, a promising prospect at 115 pounds, suffered the second loss of her MMA career, both of which have been by split decision.


Men's flyweight: Muhammad Mokaev (7-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Cody Durden (12-4-1, 2-2 UFC) via submission (Watch on ESPN+)

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McCann grabs sensational win behind spinning elbow KO

Molly McCann wins with an incredible spinning elbow knockout and immediately runs to celebrate with Dana White and a replica title belt.

Mokaev's first fight in the UFC was a quick one, as he disposed of Durden with a guillotine choke just 58 seconds into the first round. It was the second-fastest submission in UFC flyweight history.

The undefeated flyweight opened the card in London with a flying knee that dropped Durden, then sprung to take his opponent's neck as Durden tried to recover.