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March 19, 2022 | Posted by Robert Winfree
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MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
#6 Alexander Volkov (253 lbs.) vs. #11 Tom Aspinall (252 lbs.)
#7 Arnold Allen (146 lbs.) vs. Dan Hooker (145 lbs.)
Paddy Pimblett (155 lbs.) vs. Kazula Vargas (155 lbs.)
Gunnar Nelson (171 lbs.) vs. Takashi Sato (170 lbs.)
Luana Carolina (126 lbs.) vs. Molly McCann (125 lbs.)
Jai Herbert (155 lbs.) vs. Ilia Topuria (156 lbs.)

Makwan Amirkhani (146 lbs.) vs. Mike Grundy (145 lbs.)
#10 Shamil Abdurakhimov (258 lbs.) vs. #15 Sergei Pavlovich (254 lbs.)
#11 Paul Craig (206 lbs.) vs. #9 Nikita Krylov (205 lbs.)
Jack Shore (136 lbs.) vs. Timur Valiev (136 lbs.)
Cory McKenna (115 lbs.) vs. Elise Reed (115 lbs.)
Cody Durden (126 lbs.) vs. Muhammad Mokaev (125 lbs.)

Hello there everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 62. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the event. Today the UFC is back in London, they’ve been trying to get back to the UK for quite some time as they were supposed to be there in March of 2020 for the Edwards vs. Woodley event but most of the world shut down right around then. Before that the last time they were in England was March 9 of 2019 when Jorge Masvidal knocked out Darren Till. For their grand return they’ve brought a pretty good card with a lot of local talent. The main event sees rising contender Tom Aspinall taking a step up in class when he battles Alexander Volkov with the winner taking another step towards the somewhat murky heavyweight title picture. The co-main event has Dan Hooker returning to the featherweight division where he’ll meet the highly respected contender Arnold Allen. Paddy Pimblett has a showcase fight, Gunnar Nelson is back for the first time in almost three years, and exciting prospect Ilia Topuria moves up to lightweight to battle all action Jai Herbert. The prelims are solid as well, a relevant light heavyweight fight between Nikita Krylov and Paul Craig is down there, as is a bantamweight clash between two rising forces in Jack Shore and Timur Valiev. All in all it’s a good card on paper, so let’s hope it lives up to the promise.

UFC on ESPN+ 62 comes to the world from the O2 arena in London, England. We’ve got John Gooden, Michael Bisping, and Paul Felder on commentary. We don’t actually get an update on which rules are in effect, I’m going to assume the older ones so anything other than the soles of your feet on the mat means you’re downed and I’ll score fights in accordance with the older criteria. I’m also going to assume no use of instant replay. Do keep in mind we’re in the bigger 30 foot cage as well.

Muhammad Mokaev is undefeated as a professional coming into his UFC debut, he’s developed a bit of hype on the regional UK scene and is now trying to make good on the only chance he’ll get to make a good first impression. Cody Durden has gone 1-1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and could get his first UFC winning streak up and running if he can spoil Mokaev’s debut here. The odds are with Mokaev at a hefty -490 to a +360 comeback on Durden.

Flyweight Bout: Cody Durden (12-3-1, 126 lbs.) vs. Muhammad Mokaev (5-0 1 NC, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Mokaev has three inches of reach advantage and is nine years younger. Both men charge to the center of the cage. Mokaev starts probing with kicks, Durden is happy to kick with him thus far. We’ve got our first “woo’s” less than 30 seconds into the round. Jumping knee from Mokaev drops Durden, Durden recovers and goes for a takedown but Mokaev grabs a guillotine on the way down. Durden tries to roll out of the choke but Mokaev holds it, moves into mount with it and Durden has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Muhammad Mokaev via Submission, guillotine choke, at :58 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Mokaev for his work this morning. Mic time for Mokaev, he first begs for a post fight bonus then says the moment feels amazing. He told Dana White four years ago that he’d be here in about four years time, he thanks the UK and Dagestan for all of the support and love he gets. He talks us through the finish then gives love to his team to close.

This doesn’t show the really nice switch knee that Mokaev hit to start this whole sequence off, but if you want to see some nice grip adjustments to keep a guillotine choke from top position you can find it here.

Cory McKenna is on a four fight winning streak that includes a successful UFC debut back in 2020, now she’s back in action and looking to extend that streak while continuing her strawweight campaign. Elise Reed suffered her first professional loss in her UFC debut last year, she’s hoping that a return to her more natural weight class will yield her first UFC win. McKenna is the -290 favorite to +230 for Reed.

Strawweight Bout: Cory McKenna (6-1, 115 lbs.) vs. Elise Reed (4-1, 115 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Reed has four and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Reed lands a right hand. One two from Reed lands. McKenna avoids a head kick and tries to crowd Reed but can’t corral her. Reed lands a leg kick. Hard right from Reed connects. Reed lands another right. McKenna is struggling to close distance and find offense. Reed lands a leg kick and avoids a counter punch. Both women land lefts. Reed lands another leg kick. Bit of a head kick from Reed then they trade rights. Another right from Reed then she avoids punches in the pocket and lands a few counters. McKenna is backing up now, her defensive short comings are evident thus far. Reed lands a right hand then McKenna tries a takedown but they stall out on the fence. No real pummeling from Reed, kind of an oversight on her part as McKenna switches for a high crotch. McKenna lifts Reed and dumps her down into side control. Reed quickly hip escapes to full guard. McKenna lands a bit of an elbow before Reed kicks her off. They trade right hands then Reed lands a couple of side kicks to the body. Another right from Reed connects then a leg kick to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Reed

ROUND TWO: Reed lands a leg kick to start the second round. McKenna falls short with a few punches. Inside leg kick from Reed then she slips a counter. Reed lands a right hand. They trade rights. Reed starts landing more leg kicks, they’re not the hardest kicks but they’re landing. McKenna misses a few punches. Reed lands an uppercut in close. Bit of a right from McKenna. Reed lands a couple of lefts then a calf kick. Glancing right from McKenna. Reed lands a right that gets McKenna backing up. A couple of lefts from Reed land flush, McKenna is backed up to the fence now. Reed lands a right then a left hook. McKenna is upping her feint count but her feints don’t look like her attacks and Reed isn’t biting on them because of that. Reed lands a combination and McKenna lands a right hand. Another leg kick from Reed then she avoids a takedown attempt. McKenna misses more punches then takes a right hand. More leg kicks from Reed. McKenna tries a double leg, Reed gets taken down but pops up and lands a right hand as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Reed, 20-18 Reed overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Reed lands a right hand. McKenna falls short with more punches, then Reed lands a right hand. Reed tries a lazy leg kick, McKenna gets a takedown into full guard. Some ground and pound from McKenna then she works to pass but Reed retains full guard. McKenna is trying to work ground and pound, it’s not really effective thus far but she’s staying active enough to keep the ref from getting involved. Reed is able to kick McKenna off and regain her feet. Reed lands a right hand. A combination from Reed sends McKenna staggering back but she can’t quite follow up. Another right from Reed then a left to follow up. Reed lands that combination again. McKenna still doesn’t have a good counter to that right hand. Reed punches into a clinch and lands knees to the body. McKenna spins Reed into the fence and starts looking for a takedown but she wont find it before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Reed, 30-27 Reed overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Elise Reed via split decision (27-30, 29-28 x2)

OK, piss on Clucky for that 30-27 for McKenna because that’s utterly indefensible. No interview for Reed.

Jack Shore is undefeated including four wins in the UFC and has emerged as a top bantamweight prospect, now he faces another rising force in the division with the chance to set himself up for a big year. Timur Valiev hasn’t lost since 2016 and is unbeaten in three UFC bouts, he’s likewise trying to set the tone for his year while making the case he should be aiming for some bigger names in the near future. The odds closed at a -110 pick ’em for this fight.

Bantamweight Bout: Jack Shore (15-0, 136 lbs.) vs. Timur Valiev (18-2 1 NC, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Shore is two inches taller and has four inches of reach advantage. Both men feint as we get going, Shore generally pressing forward. Valiev starts switching his stance as he circles. Leg kick from Valiev, Shore returns it. Bit of a right from Valiev then he jabs the body. Shore keeps pressing forward, he lands a leg kick. Leg kick from Shore. Body kick from Shore, then Valiev responds with a body shot and leg kick. They trade leg kicks but both men miss punches on the follow up. Shore lands a body kick. Valiev catches a leg kick and looks for a knee tap but he can’t finish it before they hit the fence. Shore complains of a knee to the groin, it wasn’t a bad one as the thigh caught the groin while the knee hit the thigh but it did make contact. Shore doesn’t take long and they reset at distance. Both men land leg kicks. Valiev lands a right to counter a leg kick and gets a takedown off of it but Shore sweeps back up into a clinch very quickly and they hit the fence. Some knees are traded then Shore lands a short elbow as they break. Valiev lands a leg kick but Shore counters with a right and a left hook. Shore avoids a right hand and lands a couple of counters. Valiev lands a leg kick. Both men have visible damage to the lead leg. Hard leg kick from Valiev. They trade jabs then Valiev lands a body kick and they clash to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Valiev but a razor close one

ROUND TWO: Both men come out jabbing but Shore is back on the front foot. Shore lands a right to counter a kick then gets a takedown into full guard. Valiev quickly elevates Shore and scrambles up then lands a body shot and leg kick. Double leg from Valiev and he’s got Shore down in butterfly guard. Shore switches to closed guard and scoots to the fence. Valiev looks to posture up but Shore wall walks and they resume clinch fighting. They break without incident. Both men show the jab again while Shore backs Valiev up. Valiev jabs the body then lands a leg kick. Both men land punches in close. Valiev lands a left to the body. Shore lands a right hand in close. Shore lands a right when Valiev switched to southpaw, nice way to punish the switch. Stiff jab from Shore. Valiev falls short on a combination then lands a leg kick. Shore forces a clinch and they hit the fence. Shore lands knees to the body while he’s trying to get Valiev down but Valiev counters a trip attempt and gets on top. Some punches from Valiev but Shore is able to roll around the back and they fight up into the clinch again. They end the round in the clinch.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Shore but another close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Shore lands a leg kick, Valiev returns it. Shore lands a right that drops Valiev to his seat and Shore jumps on his back against the fence. Punches from Shore as Valiev wall walks but he can’t quite get free. Valiev fights to his feet then lands a left hook as they separate. Leg kick from Valiev. Valiev forces a clinch then lands an elbow as they break. Both men land punches in close. Valiev is landing body work but Shore catches a kick and gets a takedown as Valiev grabs a guillotine on the way down. Shore is trying to pass but he’s going to the wrong side, Valiev cranks on the choke but Shore adjusts his head position enough to release the worst of the pressure. Valiev can’t keep the grip and Shore gets his head free then lands an elbow. Full guard now for Valiev, he’s working to off balance Shore and he slips free then they reset on the feet. Valiev lands a knee to the body but Shore clinches him up and drives things to the fence. A few punches from Valiev as they break. Shore lands an uppercut then a jab. Bit of a leg kick from Valiev. Valiev avoids a sloppy jab and lands a solid left hand. Both men land power hand punches in close then Shore lands a body kick. They get close and trade hooks but Shore drops Valiev with a left hand. Valiev fights back up and they start trading again. Shore eats a right hand and keeps coming forward. Valiev lands a spinning back fist but Shore gets a body lock and a takedown off of that. Armbar from Valiev, Shore keeps him stacked up though and Valiev wont be able to extend the arm before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Shore, 29-28 Shore overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jack Shore via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2)

If we’re under the newer scoring criteria (still no update from the broadcast on that front by the way) then a 10-8 for Shore in the third isn’t out of line. Mic time for Shore, he thought he had Valiev done in the third then dedicates the win to a friend who recently passed away. He plays with the crowd for a bit to close.

Nikita Krylov has gone 2-3 since returning to the UFC, that’s somewhat mitigated by those losses coming to Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira (a split decision), and Magomed Ankalaev, but Krylov has long been thought of as a fighter with potential and it’s rapidly coming time that he make a serious move to realize it. Krylov is coming off of a loss and is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Paul Craig has gone 4-0-1 in his last five fights, finishing all of those wins as he’s started climbing the ranks at light heavyweight. Now Craig looks to extend that winning streak, move into the top ten contenders, and possibly take aim at someone near the title picture for his next fight. This is a closer fight but the odds are with Krylov at -210 while the +175 payout on Craig is a tempting value bet.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #11 Paul Craig (15-4-1, 206 lbs.) vs. #9 Nikita Krylov (26-8, 205 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Craig is half an inch taller while Krylov has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Krylov lands a front kick right away, Craig gets a takedown off of it though. Craig can’t keep top position though and Krylov gets on top in half guard as Craig sold out for a poor rear naked choke. Krylov lands some punches then starts flattening out Craig. A lot of shoulder pressure from Krylov, he uses that to keep Craig’s head on the mat and he lands some punches. Bit of a forearm choke from Krylov, he bails on it to land a short elbow. Krylov is half fishing for an Ezekiel choke from the top, but Craig defends and looks to reguard but Krylov bombs on him with punches and hammer fists before Craig gets some control over his posture. More punches from Krylov as he looks to pass, Craig tries a triangle choke but Krylov passes to side control. Craig shrimps to full guard again but he’s getting beaten up. Krylov stands and lands some more punches before going back into the guard. Krylov passes to half guard, Craig gets full guard back then snatches a triangle choke out of nowhere. Craig adjusts a bit as Krylov tries to get free but Craig is able to switch the angle and get the tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Paul Craig via Submission, triangle choke, at 3:57 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Craig for his work this afternoon. Mic time for Craig, he asks the crowd if they were entertained then puts over Krylov as being strong and not giving him space. But when he let Krylov punch him in the face he knew that opened Krylov up and he was able to find the triangle choke. Asked how badly he got hurt he jokingly compares himself to Hulk Hogan hulking up after the damage. Asked what he wants next he’d love to fight in Glasgow in June against Anthony Smith in the main event. Reasonable call out believe it or not.

Here’s the finish. Look at the speed of this triangle from Craig, takes almost no time and a relatively small opening then he’s got Krylov in a position where all he can do is tap.

Shamil Abdurakhimov is currently on the first losing streak of his career having been stopped by Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus most recently, despite that he’s retained a top ranking that he’s trying to defend here. Sergei Pavolvich has gone 2-1 in the UFC but he’s on a two fight winning streak with two first round finishes to his name, a win over Abdurakhimov would be the biggest of his career and could move him closer to a top ten ranking. Despite the ranking disparity Pavlovich is the -350 favorite to a +270 comeback for Abdurakhimov.

Heavyweight Bout: #10 Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-6, 258 lbs.) vs. #15 Sergei Pavlovich (14-1, 254 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Pavlovich has a whopping eight inches of reach advantage and is 11 years younger. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men probe with the jab as they circle. Bit of a jab from Pavlovich. Abdurakhimov lands a few inside leg kicks, both men are still just getting a feel for things. Pavlovich lands another jab. Abdurakhimov lands a calf kick. Pavlovich lands a right, and Abdurakhimov is backing up so he starts pressuring him to the fence. Bit of a right from Pavlovich. Both men land rights, but Pavlovich seems to have the better firepower. Abdurakhimov avoids a right hand. Pavlovich avoids a clinch. A right uppercut from Pavlovich floors Abdurakhimov, he gets on top and unloads with punches from the ride position until the ref waves it off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Sergei Pavlovich via TKO, punches, at 4:03 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Pavlovich for his work this afternoon. Mic time for Pavlovich and his translator, he thanks England first then thanks all of his coaches for all of their work. Seems like there was a minor translation issue there.

Mike Grundy has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is on a two fight losing streak, he’s still a respected featherweight but he’s been out of action since May of 2021 and now needs a win to remind the fans of his ability. Makwan Amirkhani has gone 1-4 in his last five fights and is on a three fight losing streak, he’s very nearly in a must win scenario here given how he’s looked in his last few fights. The odds are close but definitely with Grundy at -200 to +170 for Amirkhani.

Featherweight Bout: Makwan Amirkhani (16-7, 146 lbs.) vs. Mike Grundy (12-3, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Amirkhani is three inches taller but the reach is identical. Southpaw for Amirkhani. Grundy with some shifting punches and hits a double leg but Amirkhani is fishing for a guillotine as they go down. Amirkhani keeps switching his grip, he’s after more of a d’arce, switches to an anaconda and rolls for it. Grundy can’t get free, and Amirkhani catches the legs with his to stop the motion and Grundy goes to sleep rather than tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Makwan Amirkhani via Technical Submission, anaconda choke, at :57 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Amirkhani for his work this afternoon. Mic time for Amirkhani, he notes both of them had serious pressure on their shoulders with their losing streaks but he wanted it more. He notes he’s maturing and wants to challenge himself with another climb through the ranks. Asked about the future he wants to fight again as soon as possible, joking he’d be ready to fight next week.

This doesn’t show all of the set up, or how Grundy not quite committing to either head inside or head outside on his takedown opened up the position, but it’s still a nice example of how to keep adjusting with the anaconda choke to tighten things down. Catching the legs is a nice way to compress everything, it’s not completely necessary but it does make things easier on the choker.

Jai Herbert has gone 1-2 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and is looking to build his first UFC winning streak while proving he’s found his footing in the promotion. Ilia Topuria is undefeated and has made some serious waves at featherweight, last knocking out Ryan Hall in the first round in July of last year. Topuria took this fight on short notice, hence being at lightweight, but a win could set him up with options about which weight class he stays at and would certainly increase the hype building around him. Despite the short notice and weight class change the odds are heavily with Topuria at a whopping -600 to a +435 comeback on Herbert.

Lightweight Bout: Jai Herbert (11-3, 155 lbs.) vs. Ilia Topuria (11-0, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Herbert is five inches taller and has a whopping eight inches of reach advantage, while Topuria is eight years younger. Topuria starts pressing forward, Herbert is clearly the larger man once they get close. Both men land right hands. Some jabs are traded, then Herbert eats a right hand but lands a head kick that drops Topuria. Topuria comes up on a takedown and drives Herbert into the fence. Topuria lands some rights and switches to a high crotch. Herbert grabs the fence to stay upright but Topuria hits the double leg and lands in half guard. Topuria moves to side control, then the mounted crucifix. Herbert is able to shrimp to full guard. Topuria starts landing body to head punches then an elbow. Topuria passes but has to scramble to keep top position as Herbert gets full guard back. More body to head punches from Topuria before Herbert kicks him off and they separate. Bit of a left hook from Herbert as they break. Herbert is backing Topuria up, but misses another head kick. Bit of a left hook from Topuria. Herbert lands a knee to the head. A right from Herbert lands and they clinch for the final couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hebert, borderline 10-8

ROUND TWO: Herbert is still showing long range weapons. Bit of a right from Topuria. Herbert lands a right hand. They get close, Herbert lands a left hook but Topuria ENDS him with a right hook and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ilia Topuria via KO, punch, at 1:07 of Round 2

Mic time for Topuria after that finish, he gives love to England and puts over Herbert then calls out Paddy Pimblett. He says the game plan was to take Herbert’s head off then reiterates he wants the “blond Paddy bitch” next.

Here’s the finish. Topuria forces Herbert back to the fence, removing a lot of the room for the longer taller fighter. The left to the body from Topuria is nice, and it sets up the right to the head in classic fasion. Herbert lands a decent left hook before that, but hooking with the shorter man in close means he’s a touch slower getting his limbs back into defensive position and Topuria has a clean lane for the right hand.

Molly McCann has gone 4-3 in the UFC and recently broke a two fight losing streak, now she’s looking to build another winning streak and continue climbing the flyweight ranks. Luana Carolina has gone 3-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, she’s trying to extend that streak by spoiling McCann’s home game. McCann is a slight -140 favorite to the +120 underdog Carolina.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Luana Carolina (8-2, 126 lbs.) vs. Molly McCann (11-4, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Carolina is two inches taller with a big seven inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Some stance switching from Carolina early, she’s also showing kicks to keep McCann at range. McCann catches a leg kick but eats a few punches and lets it go. McCann lands a right hand and starts to unload on Carolina but Carolina covers up and lands a body kick. More punches from McCann, she’s pouring everything out looking to get the finish but they clinch up. Carolina pushes McCann into the fence and they trade knees to the body. A knee from Carolina lands and they break. McCann lands a left hook. Carolina has gone southpaw now, and lands a body kick but takes another punch to the face. Left from Carolina lands. McCann clinches up and gets Carolina on the fence. Some knees from Carolina then they break. McCann pushes forward again but her punches are blocked this time. Body kick from Carolina. Bit of a right from McCann but Carolina lands a knee. McCann catches a kick and lands a few punches. More punches from McCann, she’s got Carolina on the fence and unloads to the body and head but Carolina grabs a clinch to stop her offense. A short elbow from Carolina lands then they break. McCann has started targeting the body more now. Knee to the body from Carolina. McCann misses a wheel kick. They trade rights just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 McCann, would be 10-8 if I were sure we’re under the new criteria

ROUND TWO: Carolina lands a body kick to get the round going. Bit of a combination from Carolina then they clinch up again. McCann eats a body kick as they break. McCann blocks a high kick. Carolina lands an inside leg kick then a knee to the body. Another knee from Carolina lands. Bit of a right from McCann. Carolina lands a body kick then McCann gets close and hits a takedown into half guard. McCann passes to side control, then north-south. Side control again for McCann. Some knees to the body from McCann. Carolina wraps the head, then tries for a crucifix sweep but she wont be able to finish it. McCann goes for a Von Flue choke but can’t get her hands together. McCann stands free and they trade some kicks before the ref makes them stand. Some lefts from Carolina land then a knee and elbow in close as McCann gets a clinch. Carolina lands a few more knees then starts wrapping the head but can’t get the grip. Bit of an elbow from Carolina as they break. Body kick from Carolina. McCann lands a right hand but misses the follow up. A few elbows from Carolina then a knee in close before McCann hits a takedown to end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 McCann, 20-18 McCann overall

ROUND THREE: Carolina starts kicking right away and lands a few. McCann lands a right hand. More kicks from Carolina, she’s trying to egg McCann on. Carolina is stalking forward, lands a knee to the head and McCann clinches up. Some knees from Carolina as they jockey for position. McCann gets free but she might be fading. McCann lands a left but Carolina calls her on. They tie up, then McCann lands a spinning back elbow as they break that obliterates Carolina.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Molly McCann via KO, spinning elbow, at 1:52 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mrs. McCann for her work this afternoon. Mic time for McCann after that KO of the year contender, she says she’s drilled that attack every day then plays with the crowd for a bit. She talks us through the finish then thanks Carolina for the fight. She plays with the crowd again then thanks the UFC for putting her on the main card and thanks a bunch of people.

Here’s the finish. McCann loads her hips rather obviously, but Carolina either doesn’t notice or can’t react but once someone’s wound up like that the spin is all but inevitable. Beautiful knockout.

Gunnar Nelson has gone just 3-3 in his last six fights and is on a two fight losing streak, plus he’s been out of action since September of 2019 when he lost to Gilbert Burns. Nelson is hoping to recapture a bit of the old magic with a win and prove he’s still a relevant welterweight. Takashi Sato took this fight on rather short notice but has gone 2-2 in the UFC, he is coming off of a loss back in 2020 and is trying to score not only his biggest win but avoid his first ever losing streak. The odds are definitively with Nelson at -525 while a Sato win would payout at +385.

Welterweight Bout: Gunnar Nelson (17-5-1, 171 lbs.) vs. Takashi Sato (16-4, 170 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Nelson is an inch taller while Sato has an inch of reach advantage. Southpaw for Sato. Both men have similar stances. Sato is probing with the lead hand and kicks. Bit of a body kick from Sato. Nelson has a head kick blocked. Sato avoids a right hand. Nelson lands a body kick. Sato avoids a blitz attack. Nelson goes southpaw for a moment, nothing comes of it then he goes back to orthodox. Sato keeps backing Nelson up but Nelson can’t find him offensively. Nelson tries a takedown, it takes a second effort but he does get the back with one hook in and drags Sato all the way down. Both hooks in now for Nelson, and he goes to a body triangle. Some hammer fists and elbows from Nelson, he’s just trying to open up the choke. More of those shorter blows from Nelson but Sato is committed to his defense and he’ll hang on until the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nelson

ROUND TWO: Sato gets back to forward pressure right away. Both men have power hand punches blocked. Bit of a right from Nelson. Nelson lands a right hand. Sato lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a right from Nelson. Double leg from Nelson and he’s got Sato down then passes into side control almost immediately. Sato moves to his knees, Nelson slips to the ride position as Sato looks to wall walk. Nelson grabs at the choke and is able to get full back mount. Body triangle from Nelson and he’s back to looking for the choke. Sato has Nelson’s left hand all kinds of tied up and is mostly safe because of that. Nelson keeps landing short punches as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nelson, 20-18 Nelson overall

ROUND THREE: Sato pressures again but he’s got to find some offense. They tie up then break without incident. Sato lands a left hand. Takedown from Nelson, then he jumps on the back and gets the body triangle again. More punches to the body and head from Nelson. The ref is telling Sato to protect himself, a bit of an odd choice as Nelson isn’t really hurting him at all. Sato lands a couple of punches over his shoulder. Nelson starts going for the choke, but Sato’s defense is holding up thus far. Nelson keeps trying for the choke but he can’t find it and Sato breaks the grip. Another choke attempt from Nelson but he can’t get all the way under the chin yet. The clock will run down in that same spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nelson, 30-27 Nelson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Gunnar Nelson via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

No issues with a 10-8 for Nelson in there. Mic time for Nelson, he says the game plan was grappling but he tried a bit more patience and puts over Sato’s defense. He says it feels great to be back in the cage to close.

Paddy Pimblett is on a three fight winning streak that includes a successful UFC debut last year, his personality and penchant for fan friendly fights have seen a fair bit of hype grow around him and he’s looking to keep that building back in his home country with a win here. Rodrigo “Kazula” Vargas has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is coming off of his first UFC win, he’s being served up here to make Pimblett look good but will be trying to upend those plans by handing Pimblett his first UFC loss. Pimblett is a whopping -675 favorite to a +475 comeback on Vargas.

Lightweight Bout: Paddy Pimblett (17-3, 155 lbs.) vs. Kazula Vargas (12-4, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pimblett is two inches taller with an inch and a half of reach advantage, he’s also nine years younger. Southpaw for Vargas. Some inside leg kicks from Pimblett but Vargas lands a few punches then gets a takedown into half guard. Pimblett gets butterfly guard working and starts looking to wall walk. Vargas lands a few punches while moving to half guard. A few more short lefts from Vargas land while he’s controlling Pimblett against the fence. Pimblett wall walks into the clinch. A few knees go back and forth then Pimblett hits a judo toss into butterfly guard. Pimblett jumps on the back as Vargas tries to turn and he starts fishing for the choke. Choke attempt from Pimblett, it’s pretty tight and he keeps cranking it down until Vargas has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Paddy Pimblett via Submission, rear naked choke, at 3:49 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Pimblett for his work this afternoon. Mic time for Pimblett, he says it wasn’t as clean a win as he’d have liked before asking the crowd if they’re entertained. He claims he’s never in a boring fight but doesn’t mind getting punched in the face before getting going. He talks us through the fight then jokes that the O2 is too small for him and he wants to fight in a full stadium. Asked about the future he says he doesn’t consider Topuria’s challenge anything then says he wants to fight Max Griffin. To close he dedicates the win to a neighbor who died recently then gets the crowd to sing “Justice for the 97” with him.

Standard stuff from Pimblett here, but his constant grip fighting and adjustment once the choke is in is something more people need to realize. Just getting the arm around the neck doesn’t get the finish, there’s still small things you have to do to finish things.

Arnold Allen has a 10 fight winning streak dating back to 2014 that includes eight wins in the UFC. Allen has been hampered by inactivity, fighting just once a year since his UFC debut in 2015, but if he can take out a proven veteran like Hooker tonight then it would signify his readiness to tackle the very top of the deep featherweight division. Dan Hooker has been a top lightweight for a few years now but having gone just 1-3 in his last four fights and in the wake of his loss to Islam Makhachev he’s returning to featherweight for the first time since 2016 and is hoping to revitalize his title aspirations. A win over a respected contender like Allen would be a great way for Hooker to prove he’s still a top flight featherweight and he could easily find himself facing down the top contenders before the year is out. This one is very close according to the odds, -115 for Allen to -105 on Hooker.

Featherweight Bout: #7 Arnold Allen (17-1, 146 lbs.) vs. Dan Hooker (21-11, 145 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hooker is four inches taller and has five inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Allen. They touch gloves to get us going. Hooker starts pushing Allen back right away. Calf kick from Allen. Hooker lands a right hand. More pressure from Hooker, he’s starting to pick at Allen with punches. Allen lands a couple of lefts in close, but gets hurt by Hooker. Things get nuts and both men swing hooks that land in close. They trade lefts. Allen lands a jab. Hooker lands an inside leg kick but his face is starting to swell up. A few jabs from Hooker land. Allen lands a left hand, and pushes forward unloading against the fence and Hooker covers up while Allen keeps throwing and the ref steps in.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Arnold Allen via TKO, punches and elbows, at 2:33 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Allen for his work this evening. Mic time for Allen, he jokes about not wrestling because he’s English and knows how good he is on the feet. He dedicates the fight to his longtime coach currently in the hospital. He says he had tons of nerves because he knows Hooker has done nasty things to other fighters. Next he talks us through some highlights, noting the range was a problem and he just had to bite down and go forward. Asked about what’s next he says he’d love to fight Calvin Katter. I’d be down for that, hopefully he can get more than one fight a year in.

Here’s the finish. Allen counters a somewhat slow jab with a blistering one two, then never gives Hooker a chance to get back into the fight.

Alexander Volkov has been a top heavyweight for several years and has gone 8-3 since joining the UFC in 2016, his only losses coming to Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, and Ciryl Gane. Volkov is trying to earn his first crack at the UFC title and if he can turn back one of the brighter rising contenders in the division here it would put him back into the title picture. Tom Aspinall is on a seven fight winning streak including being 4-0 in the UFC will all of those wins coming by stoppage and only one of those going past the first round, now he’s taking a significant step up in class but if he can win here it would put him only a fight or two away from the title. Aspinally is a slight -125 favorite while the +105 payout on Volkov has to tempt a few bettors out there.

Heavyweight Bout: #6 Alexander Volkov (34-9, 253 lbs.) vs. #11 Tom Aspinall (11-2, 252 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Volkov has two inches of height and reach advantage. Aspinall goes southpaw to start, then lands a leg kick and goes orthodox. Bit of a one two from Aspinall then a calf kick. Volkov lands a body kick. They clinch up and Aspinall gets an outside trip to land in side control. Volkov shrimps to half guard. A few elbows from Aspinall land and Volkov has a small cut around the temple. Aspinall lands a few more elbows and punches. Volkov looks to wall walk, Aspinall threatens a kimura but can’t get it and lands a knee as they stand. Another body kick from Volkov then a right hand. Aspinall lands a calf kick. Another leg kick from Aspinall then Volkov lands a right hand. Aspinall avoids a right hand then hits a double leg into half guard. More short elbows from Aspinall then he looks for a straight armbar, it takes a second to adjust the position but he gets it and Volkov taps.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tom Aspinall via Submission, straight armlock, at 3:45 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Aspinall for his work this evening. Mic time for Aspinall after that one, he says he was born for this and is ready. He talks about his belief and his support system then when asked who’s next he first asks that someone buy him a beer and would love to fight Tai Tuivasa. Reasonable call out, and Aspinall continues rolling in his career.

Well on that note UFC on ESPN+ 62 comes to a close. That definitely delivered on the promise the event had on paper, some wild fights, some quality finishes, and a few key wins for rising contenders. I’ll be unpacking all of the results on the 411 Ground and Pound Podcast tomorrow, plus looking ahead to next week when the UFC has an event in Ohio with another heavyweight headliner. I’ll be back next week for that event and I hope you will as well. Until next time I thank you again for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC on ESPN+ 62, Robert Winfree