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UFC: All you need to know ahead of UFC London

UFC returns to London for the first time in three years on Saturday, with English heavyweight Tom Aspinall taking on Alexander Volkov in the main event.

What is the significance of the main event?

It's the first overseas UFC card of 2022 and, being hosted at the O2 Arena, London, showcases the brightest British talent.

Aspinall has never previously topped a bill for the UFC, but he'll have a strong backing from a full house in the capital when he squares off against Volkov.

The Englishman only made his UFC debut in 2020 but he has already risen to #11 in the heavyweight division after winning each of his four fights.

Volkov, ranked #6, undoubtedly poses the biggest test yet for the well-rounded 28-year-old, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and sparred with Tyson Fury early in his career.

Many have tipped Aspinall to be a future title contender after earning three knockout wins from his four fights with the company, however, that hype will soon fall off if he fails to deliver again this weekend.

What are their records?

Alexander Volkov - 43 fights, 34 wins (22 KOs), 9 defeats.

Tom Aspinall - 13 fights, 11 wins (9 KOs), 2 defeats.

Where is the fight taking place?

Saturday's event takes place at the O2 Arena, London, England.

What time is the fight?

The Prelims are scheduled to get underway at 17:00 GMT on Saturday, March 19th and the main card will begin at 20:00 GMT.

The timing of the main event will largely depend on how the previous fights play out but ring walks are expected around 22:30 GMT.

Who is fighting on the undercard?

Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker
Paddy Pimblett vs Kazula Vargas
Gunnar Nelson vs Takashi Sato
Molly McCann vs Luana Carolina
Jai Herbert vs Ilia Topuria

What are the odds?

Volkov may boast a better ranking, but he is priced at 1/1, with home advantage partly behind Aspinall being inserted at 4/5, although he is also riding a seven-fight win streak.

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Well-rounded Aspinall to deliver

Stepping out in the headline contest in an event on home soil might seem like the perfect stage with the vast majority set to be supporting Aspinall, however, the pressure could see him crack.

The Greater Manchester native hasn't got any experience fighting in a big arena and there's always a possibility that he could freeze under the lights.

The last card hosted in London saw Liverpudlian Darren Till close out the night against Jorge Masvidal but it was the American who prevailed.

Aspinall will be wary of suffering the same fate against a vastly experienced opponent in Volkov and he'll need to have his gameplan spot on.

He has only fought 13 times and was inactive between June 2016 and February 2019, while Volkov boasts 43 professional fights and has been part of the UFC roster since 2016.

The Russian is 8-3 with the UFC and his rangey style has proven difficult to manage for many in the heavyweight division.

But Aspinall should have the answers to ensure the home crowd gets the desired result and he's certainly worth siding with at 4/5.

Closing the distance is key

At 6ft 5in and 245lbs, Aspinall would be usual measures be regarded as an imposing figure, but he will be the smaller man this weekend.

Volkov is two inches taller and will likely walk into the octagon around 20lbs heavier, while the Russian also boasts a two-inch reach advantage.

The Englishman certainly has power, but just two men have previously managed to earn a knockout victory over Volkov and one of those was Derrick Lewis.

Aspinall is the more mobile of the two and he will need to use that footwork to close the distance and then work inside or look for a takedown.

Drago is known for using his long legs to chip away at opponents, before attacking the head and going for the kill.

The vast majority of Aspinall's victories (9) have come via KO/TKO, but that's been his easiest route to glory and it would be naive to dismiss his wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills.

Backing Aspinall to earn the win by KO, TKO, DQ or submission at 8/5 offers the most appeal.

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