For the second year in a row, the UFC Octagon is set for a second event in London, England with the promotion set to return to The O2 Arena for a UFC Fight Night event on Saturday, July 22.
The news was officially announced by UFC president Dana White, who unveiled a host of upcoming fights, plus the UFC’s July 22 return to the UK.
“We’re going back to London, England – one of the best places in the world to see a live UFC event. We’ll be there for a UFC Fight Night on July 22.
“We’re working on that card right now, but you know I always have something special in line for the UK fight fans.”
It's like waking up on Christmas! 🎅🏻
▪️ Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns
▪️ Charles Oliveira vs Beneil Dariush
▪️ Jack Hermansson vs Brendan Allen
▪️ Marvin Vettori vs Jared Cannonier
▪️ Josh Emmett vs Ilia Topuria
▪️ Sean Strickland vs Abus Magomedov
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) April 21, 2023
White had previously stated that he had hoped to bring a pay-per-view card to London for that date, but the UFC has pivoted to a Fight Night card, possibly due to England’s welterweight champion Leon Edwards announcing that he won’t be ready to return to action by that date.
It means the event will likely be headlined by a non-title fight, with heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall the frontrunner to feature at the top of the poster.
Aspinall headlined twice at The O2 in 2022, with contrasting results. His first main event saw him submit Russian contender and former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in March, but his return for a second main event later that summer ended in heartbreaking fashion.
Aspinall was matched with Curtis Blaydes, but early in the first round suffered a collapsed knee and torn ligaments that forced him to go under the knife to repair the joint. Aspinall has rehabbed his repaired knee and has his sights set on a summer return.
Speaking during a fan Q&A session ahead of UFC 286 in London in March, Aspinall laid out his hopes for the summer, including a main event slot in London against Polish heavyweight Marcin Tybura.
“The knee is fantastic right now. I’m back in training,” he said.
“Listen, I just want to get one thing straight. We need to secure another UK card for this year. And I’ve got that big Polish dummy calling me out online. So, if Marcin Tybura wants it, let’s bring him back to the UK this summer. Come on! Please!”
Aspinall explained why he called for Tybura, saying, “Well, at the moment, there’s not many free guys in the top 10, everyone’s matched.
“As far as I can see, he’s the only guy who’s willing to take the fight. He wants to fight, he said verbally. And if someone says publicly that they want to fight me, of course I want to fight. I’m not backing down from no one. We’re two European guys. Let’s do it in the UK.”
However, there could be another, bigger-box-office option available this summer. Ciryl Gane was swiftly submitted by Jon Jones in their heavyweight title meeting at UFC 285. The big Frenchman admitted after the defeat that he was angry at himself, and said, “I’m going to go straight to the gym and work on my ground game.”
A matchup between Gane and Aspinall would generate huge interest in London, and could potentially position the winner for a potential shot at the heavyweight title.