UFC has today announced the first three bouts for UFC Fight Night 83 which takes place on 2th February 2016 at the 02 Arena in London.
In a Middleweight fight Michael Bisping (27-7 MMA, 17-7 UFC) will take on Gegard Mousasi (37-6-2 MMA, 4-3 UFC).
Elsewhere on the card Featherweight Mike Wilkinson will meet Makwan Amirkhani and Lightweight Norman Parke will fight Rustam Khabilov.
The card will see Britain’s Michael Bisping fight on home soil for the first time since October 2010 when he defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama in the UFC 120 headline bout. Dutch kick boxer Gegard Mousasi will be fighting on British soil for the first time and is likely to bring a big following to the 02 Arena.
It is likely that the UFC will be announcing more bouts in the coming weeks and the British fighters (Brad Pickett, Jimi Manuwa, Scott Askham, Arnold Allen, Leon Edwards……..) are all queuing up to grab the opportunity to fight in front of their home crowd.
Well we finally have some bouts announced for #UFCLondon and looking across social media it seems as though they have been received with mixed reactions. I may be an optimist but I think that for a London card these fights are pretty good in comparison to some of the cards we have received in recent years. Scanning the last few London cards the only bout which really stood out for me as a big bout was Cub Swanson Vs Dustin Poirier and I think that since then we have been short of a big name home-grown fighter to carry this card, step forward Michael Bisping.
Getting to see Michael Bisping fight in England for the first time since October 2010 is a huge deal for European MMA and will in itself draw a big crowd at the 02 in London. That said, I don’t think I will be alone in saying that the European fans were looking for an opponent who would potentially offer Bisping a path towards Title contention and coming off a loss, Gegard Mousasi does not offer that. Since joining the UFC, Mousasi seems a shadow of his former self and is currently going through perhaps the darkest streak of his career to date going 3-3 in his last six bouts. I think we can all agree that Bisping is probably on his last run towards the Title picture and with back to back wins over CB Dolloway and Thales Leites was probably expecting a more prominent name at 185lbs. That said Mousasi is definitely a credible opponent for Bisping and will really challenge his ability to put beat a top ten opponent, in a very risky bout for the Brit.
Makwan Amirkhani Vs Mike Wilkinson is certainly stealing the show for me early on and I think this bout really will be a barnburner. Amirkhani has looked sensational in his two UFC bouts earning two first round stoppages, likewise Wilkinson looked great in his return to the Octagon after a year layoff, stopping Niklas Backstrom in devastating fashion. Since then both of these guys have gone after each other on social media following Wilkinson’s win over Amirkhani’s teammate Niklas Backstrom and had pretty much sold the fight to the UFC without making them even having to think about putting this one on. What will be interesting is that only recently Amirkhani has announced he is looking for a new gym which is a huge decision for a fighter to make and will take some time to settle into which may be an advantage to Wilkinson. Either way I think that this fight will be the most hyped bout on the card and with two of Europe’s best Featherweights colliding could certainly offer the winner a chance to climb the 145lbs ladder towards the top 10.
Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke is also on the card taking on Rustam Khabilov which is a tough bout for Parke in my opinion. Looking at past performances alone one would have to side with Parke, given Khabilov’s two losses on the bounce but look who the loses came against. There is no harm in losing to Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins, two very credible fighters at 155lbs. Parke looked good in his last fight with Reza Madadi and what really impressed me was his ability to get inside the head of Madadi before they had even entered the octagon, something which I think he will struggle to do against Khabilov. Im not saying that is fundamentally why he beat Madadi but I think it played a very big part. If we look at the two recent losses that Parke has suffered they come against two big strong guys who look to take their opponents down and grind out wins, much the same as Khabilov which I think is something Parke will really need to address in this bout.
All in all I think we have done ok with these three bouts, considering no England show in 2015 anything in 2016 is better lets be honest. The last time the UFC came to London we got to see Gustafsson Vs Manuwa in the main event which wasn’t a Light Heavyweight eliminator and so im not sure what people were expecting with this announcement. In my eyes the three bouts announced so far are favourable to the main card bouts at UFC London 2014 and with the UFC still to announce about another 5-7 bouts we are almost guaranteed to see some more British talent booked on the show. Also worth bearing in mind that Bisping/Mousasi has not been confirmed as the main event at this stage.