It was an emotional evening in London as one of the pioneers of British mixed martial arts took his final bow.
Brad Pickett walked to the Octagon to a great response with everyone inside The O2 rising to greet him as he entered the arena.
Pickett has been saying all week that he was focused on the task ahead of him rather than planning out his retirement and he knew he was going to have to be on his game from the opening exchanges with his opponent, Marlon Vera.
The Brit landed a big slam in the opening minute and half, but Vera was quickly on his feet and the two went toe-to-toe landing stiff, hard blows in the pocket. Pickett was the man taking the center of the Octagon, but the Ecuadorian was countering well and landing some nice pot shots on the back foot. The atmosphere was tense, but Pickett landed a nice solid right on the buzzer at the end of the opening round.
Round two saw Vera open a little a more aggressively working his kicks. Pickett went for takedown early and hit him with another big slam. From the veteran controlled his man on the ground. Pickett didn’t do much damage, but he definitely did enough to take the round on the cards and have the advantage heading in to the last.
Most in the arena thought they were about to witness the last five minutes of Pickett’s career, but in actual fact they only say another three minutes four seconds in a cruel turn of events.
Vera was beginning to look the fresher of the two men, but no one in the arena was expecting the booming right headkick that sent Pickett straight to the mat. The Brit looked out on impact, but he managed to gather his bearings to fend off the swarming Vera just as the referee called the fight to an end.
Pickett was obviously disappointed with the result, but the crowd weren’t going to let him leave with his head bowed. After the initial disappointment, Pickett raised his head to see the crowd on their feet chanting his name.
Speaking on the microphone with Dan Hardy after, Pickett spoke emotionally, thanking the fans for their support throughout his thirteen-year career.
Manuwa puts away Anderson early and then makes two big demands
The main event of the evening saw London’s own Jimi Manuwa take on American Corey Anderson.
Anderson might not have been the big-name opponent fans would’ve wanted to see Manuwa face, but he was a game opponent and moved well from the outset avoiding Manuwa’s loaded up strikes in the first few minutes.
Manuwa seemed to be struggling to walk his opponent down as Anderson moved out of his range and Manuwa failed to close the distance to get his strikes away.
Then it happened—Manuwa landed a left hand after a slip and that was all she wrote. Anderson fell flat on his face unconscious. It was devastating and clinical by the Londoner who speaking after the fight demanded two things—firstly a title shot at the winner of the UFC light heavyweight clash between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, and secondly a boxing match with fellow British fighter David Haye.
Arnold Allen edges out Makwan Amirkhani
A featherweight contest between two of the sport’s brightest young talents opened the main card with Finland’s Makwan Amirkhani taking on British prospect, Arnold Allen.
Amirkhani started the contest aggressively and narrowly missed with a flying knee right off the bat. The two fighters then traded takedowns, Amirkhani first looking for a submission and then Allen scoring with some nice ground and pound.
The first round was very even and the pattern continued into the second. Amirkhani again went for the takedown and guillotine choke, but he was reversed and Allen took top position from where he rained down strikes from side control. The fight eventually went back to the feet, but soon it was on the mat again as Allen went for an ill-advised guillotine choke. Amirkhani easily reversed the position and controlled his man for the rest of the round pinning his shoulders to the mat.
Round three began and again the two couldn’t be separated. Allen landed a pair of nice left crosses on the feet, but both men looked to take it to the floor where they traded reversal for reversal. Allen ended the fifteen minutes attempting to sink in a rear-naked choke, but it was all left up to the judges.
After a tense pause, Allen was ruled the winner by split decision. One man won on the night, but no doubt both men will go on to big things.
Gunnar Nelson puts in a clinical performance and is on the rise
Icelandic fighter Gunnar Nelson was one of the best supported fighters at the London O2 Arena last evening and he put on a performance to remember.
His finishing combination to put Alan Jouban away was a thing of beauty. After a dominant grappling performance in round one, in round two, Nelson landed a big left on the chin of Jouban to send him staggering back against the cage. From there he finished his man with a left head kick to drop him to the mat and choke him out with a beautiful guillotine choke.
It was a beautiful finish from Nelson who will no doubt have put himself in contention with the top players at 170-pounds.
UFC Fight Night 107 London Full Results
Jimi Manuwa def. Corey Anderson via Knockout (Punch), Round 1 - 3:05
Gunnar Nelson def. Alan Jouban via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 2, 0:46
Marlon Vera def. Brad Pickett via TKO (head kick), Round 3, 3:50
Arnold Allen def. Makwan Amirkhani via split decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Joseph Duffy def. Reza Madadi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Francimar Barroso def. Darren Stewart by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Timothy Johnson def. Daniel Omielanczuk by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Marc Diakiese def. Teemu Packalén via KO (punch), Round 1, 0:40
Leon Edwards def. Vicente Luque via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Brad Scott def. Scott Askham via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Lina Lansberg def. Lucie Pudilova via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)