This weekend the UFC returns to the UK as part of its International tour that will also include Germany & Ireland in the coming months. Globally this offering is being broadcasted exclusively on UFC Fight Pass, while locally it airs on BT Sport & Channel 5.
The main event has a lot at stake in the prestigious Light Heavyweight division, but before we look at that in more detail let’s have a look at what else is on the line in some of the other weight classes on display at Ultimate Fight Night 37 live from the o2 arena in London.
We will only consider fights that impact the rankings in their respective divisions. Although arguably the four fights on this card that are garnering most interest are Gustafsson vs. Manuwa, Johnson vs. Guillard, Pickett vs. Seery & Nelson vs. Akhmedov, only three of these bouts on paper stand to alter the rankings in their respective divisions. Those being the first three mentioned.
Although the winner of Nelson vs. Akhmedov should be facing a top 15 ranked Welterweight next, the reality is that neither of these men are in the top 15 as of yet.
Meanwhile flying under the radar in the prelims is a flyweight bout pitting number 11 UFC ranked fighter Louis Gaudinot against British competitor Phil Harris. If Gaudinot wins this fight he retains his spot, if he wins impressively he will have a case to match up with a top ten fighter next. In one of the leaner or less stacked weight classes in the octagon a win for the Brit propels him into the top 15.
Both men are on a similar trajectory in that they have been inconsistent of late with win/loss records. Gaudinot has faced the stiffer competition, but either way both men need to get a streak going to be factors in this division that is young & wide open in it’s path to the world title.
Staying in the Flyweight division, Brad Pickett drops down from Bantamweight to make his debut at
125 lbs against former Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion Neil Seery, who steps in on short notice to replace injured Ian McCall.
Neither man is ranked currently in the UFC in this division, but Pickett is a top ten (former top five) Bantamweight & whenever a ranked competitor drops down a weight class, a win in the new division carries clout.
As Pickett holds a win over the champion Demetrious Johnson, a win would most likely place him in the top five automatically, meanwhile Seery being the top flyweight from the European circuit, if he pulls off the short notice upset he puts himself easily in the top ten of the division.
In the co-main event we move to the best division in the sport, Lightweight. Michael Johnson steps in on relatively short notice (not as short as Seery, who had two weeks) to replace injured Ross Pearson to face former training partner Melvin Guillard. From a ranking perspective on paper this is a tougher fight for the wandering Guillard than Pearson presented.
Currently Johnson is ranked 14 in the division where Guillard once was putting a decent run together in the top ten. Inconsistency however has forced him out of the top 15. A win for Guillard puts him back in the pack. On the other hand Johnson is looking for top ten opponents. A victory over Melvin will just be what he needs to to propel himself into those opportunities.
Finally, we look at the Light Heavyweight class, where number one contender to Johnny “Bones” crown Aleksander Gustafsson takes on number 11 ranked Jimmy Manuwa. “The Mauler’s” original opponent was number 6 ranked Brazilian Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Lil’ Nog was injured shortly after the match up was announced & the hometown boy Manuwa stepped in. Gustafsson has a lot to lose in this fight. He needs to win & win impressively to remind Zuffa brass & the winner of Jones vs. Teixeira that he is next in line & nobody else.
On the other hand this is a massive opportunity for Manuwa to break into the top five & if he can finish the Swede, make his own claim for a UFC title shot or at the very least an eliminator bout against either Daniel Cormier or the winner of Davis vs. Johnson.
In conclusion, opportunity knocks for many of the UFN 37 competitors, but who will claim what’s on the line?
Feature Photo Credit: Official UFC Twitter page