Hot on the heels of the announcement of the UFC’s return to London, the event now has a scheduled headliner.
Longtime UFC heavyweight contender and former Bellator world champion Alexander Volkov will welcome English heavyweight prospect Tom Aspinall to the upper echelon of the UFC’s heavyweight division in a five-round bout that will top the bill at The O2 Arena on March 19.
The bout was revealed by UFC president Dana White in an interview with ESPN, but at the time of writing the UFC has yet to officially announce the matchup.
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A 43-fight veteran, with an 8-3 record in the UFC’s octagon, Volkov has resided just outside championship contention in the Top 10 of the heavyweight division ever since his arrival in the organization.
The Russian heavyweight, known as “Drago,” fought three times in 2021, finishing Alistair Overeem via second-round TKO in February, then dropping a unanimous decision to Ciryl Gane in June. However, he bounced back with a unanimous decision win of his own in October with victory over Poland’s Marcin Tybura.
Now Volkov will give England’s Aspinall the toughest assignment of his fledgling UFC career, with the Brit facing Volkov in the main event after initially being linked with a bout against Shamil Abdurakhimov, who has since been reportedly matched against Sergei Pavlovich.
Aspinall (11-2) has been perfect since arriving on the big stage, and has finished each of his four opponents in style.
A 45-second TKO of Jake Collier got his UFC career off to a flying start in July 2020, then he followed up with a 95-second finish of Alan Baudot the following October.
He was then moved up in competition and matched with former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in a bout that saw Aspinall showcase his grappling skills with a second-round rear-naked choke finish of “The Pitbull” to hand the Belarusian only the third submission loss of his then-52-fight career.
Aspinall’s most recent outing saw him return to his boxing skills as he blitzed Sergey Spivak with a first-round TKO finish in half a round last September.
Now he’ll face Volkov on home soil in England, with victory offering a potential path to a top contender bout later in the year.
UFC London: Reported Bouts
- Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall
- Jake Hadley vs. Allan Nascimento
- Luana Carolina vs. Molly McCann
- Cody Durden vs. Muhammad Mokaev
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Mike Grundy
- Jack Shore vs. Timur Valiev
- Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Sergei Pavlovich
Photo credit: @tomaspinall93 and @volkov_alex (Instagram)