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British UFC Fighters: A look at Leon Edwards, Tom Aspinall, Paddy Pimblett and more

British MMA is perhaps in the best place it’s ever been, with a reigning UFC champion and contenders in two other divisions.

Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy paved the way for British MMA in the late 2000s, with both becoming increasingly prominent in the UFC.

Bisping worked his way up to a middleweight title eliminator, losing to Dan Henderson, while Dan Hardy on the back of four straight wins earned the dubious prize of spending 25 minutes in the cage with Georges St-Pierre.

It looked like England’s wait for a UFC champion would go on for the foreseeable future, but stepping up to fight Luke Rockhold on short notice, Bisping became the first champion from these shores in 2016.

We’re looking at the profiles and records of some of the top British fighters on the MMA scene.

Leon Edwards

Record: 21-3 (1 NC)
Next fight: TBC

Where else can we start but with the reigning welterweight champion and top five pound-for-pound fighter Leon Edwards?

‘Rocky’ was made to wait for his title shot after a sequence of events that were largely out of his control, but in one of the UFC’s all-time great upsets, Edwards knocked out P4P #1 Kamaru Usman to capture the title, defending it the following year.

His next fight hasn't been officially confirmed, but UFC president Dana White has insisted it'll be against Colby Covington.

Tom Aspinall

Record: 13-3
Next fight: TBC

There are few more agonising hard-luck stories in the UFC than that of Tom Aspinall. 

Tearing his way through the heavyweight division, Aspinall beat Andrei Arlovski, Sergey Spivak and Alexander Volkov, earning Performance of the Night honours each time, spending an average of four minutes in the Octagon.

He then headlined UFC London where he’d fight Curtis Blaydes to enter the title picture, only to suffer a serious knee injury seconds into the fight. 

But what was a hard-luck story may finish as one of the great redemption stories. After beating Marcin Tybura inside 73 seconds in July, Aspinall, the fourth-ranked heavyweight, may only be a couple of fights away from a title shot.

Arnold Allen

Record: 19-2
Next fight: TBC

The UFC featherweight division may well be gatekept by Alexander Volkanovski until he decides he’s no longer interested, but Arnold Allen was perhaps one fight away from a bid to the crown earlier in the year before losing to Max Holloway.

There’s no shame in losing to Holloway, of course, a man whose last three defeats have all come to Volkanovski, such is the Aussie’s dominance in the division, but it’s a big setback for Allen.

The featherweight division is also in a rather unusual place. Excluding Holloway, champion Volkanovski and interim champion Yair Rodriguez, the whole of the top nine in the division lost their last fight, and few have claims to put themselves in the title picture, meaning Allen can hope to fight someone like a Brian Ortega next to keep himself in the frame.

Paddy Pimblett

Record: 20-3
Next fight: TBC

Announcing himself to UFC fans against Luigi Vendramini, Paddy Pimblett took a series of massive punches before responding with his own to record a knockout win on his UFC debut.

His larger-than-life personality and unfiltered, honest interviews have made him something of a cult hero amongst many MMA fans, winning Performance of the Night bonuses in his first three UFC fights.

He did come under pressure in his most recent fight against Jared Gordon, however, winning via a controversial decision, and has been out of the Octagon since.

Molly McCann

Record: 13-5
Next fight: Julija Stoliarenko

The Bonnie to Paddy Pimblett’s Clyde, Molly McCann has struck up a close friendship with her fellow Liverpudlian, with the pair seen supporting each other during fights.

McCann was riding the crest of a wave with three straight wins in the UFC, two of which came in front of a boisterous London crowd in 2022, both of which earned Meatball Performance of the Night honours.

Her last fight was a step up in class against Erin Blanchfield, with the American coming out on top, prompting a temporary hiatus from MMA from McCann.

Muhammad Mokaev

Record: 10-0 (1 NC)
Next fight: Tim Elliott

Muhammad Mokaev has perhaps the most fascinating story of any English fighter. Fighting out of Manchester but born in Dagestan, Mokaev looks like the prototypical Dagestani; getting his opponents to the ground and finding any way to make them submit. 

In his four UFC fights, he’s won three by submission with three different methods; neck crank, armbar and guillotine. 

He missed out on the London card in July, but will fight #10-ranked Tim Elliott at UFC 294 on 21st October. Win that, and he may only be a year away from a title fight.

Paul Craig

Record: 17-6-1
Next fight: TBC

Scotland’s Paul Craig cracked the light heavyweight top-10 after a fourth straight win in the UFC, impressively beating Nikita Krylov by submission at UFC London in March last year, but back-to-back losses have jeopardised his top-10 status and his following fight – back in London – was against #14-ranked middleweight Andre Muniz.

Craig won via second-round TKO and is now ranked #12 in the middleweight rankings.

Brendan Loughnane

Record: 27-5
Next fight: TBC

Though not a UFC fighter, having missed out on a contract with The Ultimate Fighter in 2012, Brendan Loughnane rose to prominence in the MMA world as part of the PFL promotion in 2022, winning the featherweight tournament with a TKO win over Bubba Jenkins.

He started the 2023 season with a win over former UFC bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes, but lost in June to Jesus Pinedo.

Darren Till

Record: 18-5-1

Once touted as English MMA’s next big thing, Darren Till had a Conor McGregor-esque swagger about him and seemingly had the fists to match.

Unbeaten in his first 18 MMA fights, Till recorded a destructive knockout of Donald Cerrone before outpointing former welterweight contender Stephen Thompson, earning a shot at Tyron Woodley’s belt.

Till would be submitted by Woodley, before being devastatingly knocked out in front of a home crowd by Jorge Masvidal.

Though Till would beat Kelvin Gastelum on a step up to middleweight, he’d lose his next three fights and has since been released by the UFC. 

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