Jimi Manuwa continued his rise to the summit of the light-heavyweight division with an emphatic first-round knockout win over Corey Anderson at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night.
The left hook knockout from hell elevates Manuwa – currently ranked No 4 at light-heavyweight in the UFC – to a position where he could quite conceivably be next in line to challenge incumbent champion Daniel Cormier after his contest with Anthony Johnson.
Manuwa wasted no time in calling for his shot. And for good measure, even called out David Haye - in a boxing match. After a tentative start in the headliner, it was Manuwa who eventually found a home for a spiteful left hook that sent Corey Anderson tumbling to the canvas.
Manuwa registers his eleventh victory inside the first round. In the co-main event, enigmatic Icelander Gunnar Nelson looked a formidable force at welterweight once again, scoring a spectacular submission victory over Alan Jouban in the second stanza.
Coming into the contest, Nelson – a fellow SBG stablemate of Conor McGregor – had alternated wins and losses in his past four bouts. Jouban found occasional success on the feet early in the contest, but Nelson was the quicker to settle into a rhythm and eventually landed with piston of a right hand that wobbled Jouban somewhat.
Nelson followed up with a head kick, but before ‘Brahma’ was able to regain his senses, the stoic Icelander was able to transition beautifully to submit his foe by guillotine choke.
Elsewhere on the card, Marlon Vera defeated Brad Pickett, entering the Octagon for his swansong fight, via technical knockout to the dismay of a vociferous hometown crowd.
The stoppage came at 3.50 in the final round as the plucky Ecuadorian recorded his second UFC victory. Vera was visibly emotional during his post-fight interview in paying tribute to the legendary fighter from East London.
Pickett, 38, had announced prior to Saturday night’s bout that it would be the last of his 13-year career. In a close, compelling fight it was Pickett who arguably won the first two rounds, each landed strike met with a thunderous roar of approval from the crowd.
Vera though, looked dangerous with knees and kicks throughout, and the signature moment of the fight came in the third stanza as he caught the Brit with a vicious head kick that planted Pickett to the ground. Little response from Pickett forced referee Grant Waterman to intervene soon thereafter.
The fighter nicknamed “One Punch” – a stalwart of British MMA over the past decade – will be remembered as a pioneer for the lower weight classes, having campaigned across flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight divisions respectively.
A tenacious fighter whom, throughout his career, has amassed a remarkable total of seven post-fight bonuses for UFC/WEC bantamweight bouts combined, the most of any fighter in the history of the weight-class.
Most notably perhaps, Pickett remains one of only two men to hold a victory over current pound-for-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson, a victory which came at WEC48 in Sacramento just a little under seven years ago. The evening’s undercard was highlighted by a spectacular knockout victory in the lightweight division for Yorkshire’s Mark Diakese, who caufght Finland’s Teemu Packmen flush with an overhand right early into the first round.
The unbeaten British phenom has now ended four of his last five victories inside the scheduled distance. “I promise you guys, I’m going all the way to the top.” Diakese explained to the jubilant crowd. “I put in hard work, no one works as hard as me. I’ve been working with some of the best coaches so I’ve been practicing that stuff over and over which makes it a lot easier, but I’ve got power. You can’t come forward with me because I will knock you out, simple as that.”
Manuwa calls out Haye
Manuwa wants to take on David Haye next! In what MMA or in the boxing ring? He responds "whatever".
One punch and it's over
Here's Gareth's take on that KO...
BOOM... left hook KO by Jimi Manuwa in the opening round. And it's all over. Manuwa and Anderson talk respectfully afterwards. Power left hook from the powerhouse from south London. Did the job... walked away. No celebration. Love the guy.
The Poster Boy has only gone and done it
Manuwa KO's Anderson in the first round!
Classic striker (Manuwa) versus grappler (Anderson) in this headliner. I'm going for Manuwa by TKO, or many rounds of grind on the ground from the American.
Well, actually I'm picking Manuwa by TKO by end of second. No 4 vs No 7 in the UFC light heavyweight division - here we go...
Time for the main event
England's Manuwa and America's Anderson enter the octagon. Which way is this one going?
More from Gareth
And while we are on the subject of Gunnar Nelson's training partner Conor McGregor, here's a video from last night. I got pressed in here with McGregor sounding off.... about boxing, and Floyd Mayweather, in New York... If you have not seen the video, let it play NOW... highly entertaining...
Nelson slams Jouban
Gareth A reports:
As I predicted, stun and submission by Gunnar Nelson, training partner of Conor McGregor, over Alain Jouban. But his striking here was immense... BOOM. SUBMIT. GUILLOTINE.
Now for the co-main event
It's Gunnar Nelson vs Alan Jouban...
Thank you Brad Pickett
Thank you @One_Punch An imperfect way for a perfect fighting gentleman to end his career. "I f------ love all you fans.' It is time, too.— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) March 18, 2017
and more thanks to our ambassador of MMA...
Pickett leaving his hat in the cage as he walks off for the last time. #UFCLondon— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) March 18, 2017
Pickett signs off with defeat
This is how Gareth saw it...
Brad Pickett gets a guy in Marlon Vera who wants to engage. It suits him. He drops the South American with a big shot in the first. It's a real good, fun fight. Brad wanted to go out on a high. Or at least with a win. He told me he did not want to be tentative at all.
He hasn't been so far... throwing hooks, as Vera throws knees. Gets a big slam over Vera, but the visitor came back strongly at the end of the second. And then BOOM... it's all over as Vera breaks the dream script by knocking Pickett down and OUT with a vicious head kick plus follow up shots. Referee Grant Waterman intervenes. Right move. Noise of the kick was sickening. An emphatic, if imperfect, end to Brad Pickett's MMA career. Great sportsmanship.
This is Pickett's fight to lose going into the third round... I just can't see Marlon Vera getting the decision !.... Just saying...
'Stand up if you love One Punch'
Gareth A Davies on Pickett's background
Brad has an extraordinary story: from growing up around Mick Jagger and Elton John with his parents' bespoke shoe company, to being schooled in the Himalayas, to fighting in combat arenas the world over.
Talented, tenacious, and a gentleman fighter. One Punch's nine-fight winning streak from London to Sacramento via Las Vegas, which culminated in a victory over Demetrious Johnson, arguably now the No 1 pound for pound in MMA, places the East Londoner firmly as one of combat sport's legendary British fighters.
Having worked with Brad on radio at TalkSPORT, television at BT Sport and having interviewed him for the pages of The Daily Telegraph, my deep belief is that he was a man ahead of his time. But in the fullness of time, the appreciation of his quirkiness, fighting spirit and art of gentlemanly fighting will be truly recognised. It has been a pleasure working with you, Brad. Many thanks for all the time you gave.
Next up Pickett prepares to sign off
East London's Brad Pickett steps into the octagon for the final time now as he takes on Marlon Vera.
Judges scores for Allen's split decision win: 28-29, 30-27, 30-27. Not sure the judge who scored two rounds for Amirkhani was watching. That was FIGHT OF THE NIGHT, so far.
Allen beats Amirkhani by split decision
A great fight ends in Ipswich-born Allen's favour. Allen's game is far more multi-faceted than perhaps first thought. Very competitive from the off and scrambles aplenty. Enthralling stuff. Gareth A Davies reports:
Terrific back and forth technical battle between prospects Makwan AmirKhani and Arnold Allen. Allen showing real resilience, scrambling, and some very smooth exchanges. Modern MMA fighters, transitioning brilliantly from stand-up to the ground. I have Arnold Allen 29-28 after three rounds.
Allen ends by asking the octagon reporter what it will take for the local fans to love him.
Behind the scenes
Earlier this week our MMA correspondent Gareth A Davies spent some time with the UFC commentary crew, on radio, and Poster Boy - Jimi Manuwa.
The main card begins
Allen vs Amirkhani is first up at the O2 in front of a sell-out crowd. Here's how the rest of the night is shaping up.
9.35pm -Pickett vs Vera
10pm - Nelson vs Jouban
10.30pm Manuwa vs Anderson
And it's all over
Joe Duffy def. Reza Madadi via unanimous decision 30-27 x 3
A dominant performance from Joe Duffy as he heads into free agency, that was the last fight on his contract so will be interesting to see what his next steps are. Timing, rhythm, distance...cruised to victory and barely looked like he was out of first gear. Excellent showing.
Almost time for the main event
The final bout on the undercard between Joseph Duffy and Reza Madadi is still going and then we will switch our attention to the main card and Manuwa vs Anderson.
Barroso wins unanimous decision
Darren Stewart has lost his light-heavyweight bout to Francimar Barroso via unanimous decision.
Barroso landed seven takedowns and largely employed a grappling heavy offence to earn the victory 29-28 across the board.
Barroso was out-landed overall, 67-53 according to unofficial fight metrics, but it was he who landed the more significant strikes in the bout.
Darren Stewart: “I could hear my corner but I know I wasn’t doing what they were telling me to do. It was a very bad night for me tonight."
Francimar Barroso: “It was a really hard fight. Going into it, I was expecting that it would be a difficult fight and that he would be tough, and he was. But I got the unanimous decision so I am happy. All the hard work, all the dedication has been compensated today. I will fight whenever and wherever the UFC wants me to next."
Johnson defeats Omielanczuk via spilt-decision
Tim Johnson has beaten Daniel Omielanczuk via a spilt-decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) in the heavyweight category.
It was a scrappy affair with the American finally coming out on top.
“I feel pretty good. After they announced 29-28 for Daniel and 30-27 for me, I was getting a flashback from my fight with Volkov in November and so I was expecting the worst, but I got the result I was looking for. It’s nice to get back in the win column, especially now with only one fight left on my contract and it means I’m a little less stressed about what will happen in the future. I want to stay here in the UFC. This is where the best fighters are in the world. Why would I want to be anywhere else?”
“He was better than me in the clinch tonight so I agree with the judges' decision. He was able to use his weight to keep me on the fence. That was obviously his game plan and it worked out for him. Next time, I know that I need to fight much better."
Breese pulls out on medical grounds
Tom Breese had been due to fight Oluwale Bamgbose in a middleweight bout but Breese pulled out earlier today.
UFC now announcing that Breese vs. Bamgbose has been cancelled. Breese not medically cleared to fight. #UFCLondon— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) March 18, 2017
Edwards defeats Luque via unanimous decision
That's three wins in a row for Leon Edwards.
“It was a good fight. I knew Luque was going to be tough. I had to match him for power and toughness. I was in the stands here a few years ago saying ‘I want to fight in the UFC in this arena’ so tonight is a dream come true for me. I’ve been watching Cowboy over the years and I like the way my style matches up with his. I would love to challenge myself against him."
“I’m feeling very mad that I lost the fight but I think the judges thought that he controlled the floor more than I did. That’s why I think he won the fight. He had great stand up and he had good timing. In the last two rounds I was able to try my hands more but he was controlling me on the ground. I want to get back home, recover from this defeat, get back into training and come back and fight again. I know that I’m a tough fighter in this division and I know I’m going to come back stronger and make a claim for the title."
Brilliant KO for Diakiese, who defeats Packalen in round one
"I’ve been saying it all week and I’ll say it again. That was easy work. I’m one of the best and I will keep proving it. I’m training at one of the best gyms and I just keep proving that I am one of the best out there. I want to be fighting on the main card next. Being on the prelims is no good for me.
"I want to be fighting bigger names. I’m interested in fighting on the Sweden card in May and then put me on the Glasgow card in July. Whoever is next, I will be ready."
And what a celebration from Diakiese...
Brad Scott defeats Scott Askham via split decision
Bradley Scott has won the 'Battle of Britain' against rival Scott Askham. Scott almost knocked his opponent out in the first round but went on to win on the judges' scorecards which read 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28.
“It was a tough fight. I got tired. I could have pushed the pace a bit more and I wish I could have got the finish but I enjoyed it. I was so close to giving up fighting. It’s been an emotional year but I’m back. I can’t give it up. I finally won in London, in one of the biggest indoor arenas in the world. It’s one of the greatest feelings of my life, especially since I was so close to giving it all up."
“It was a close fight, I’m not going to say I was robbed, as it could have gone either way. We both lined clean shots and we both hurt each other. He knocked me down in the first round but I think I did enough to win the next two rounds but you could argue he deserved to win those two. Obviously I’m very disappointed and there are no excuses. I put my heart and soul into this camp but credit to Bradley Scott, he went in there and got the victory."
Lansberg defeats Pudilova via unanimous decision
Evening all. We'll be bringing you the latest from the undercard at UFC London before the main event of Manuwa vs Anderson.
There's already been one brutal result in the contest between Lina Lansberg and Lucie Pudilova with Lansberg winning the women's bantamweight by an unanimous decision.
Here's what Lansberg had to say:
“It was a tough fight but I’m feeling fine. I’ve fought her before so I was expecting it to be another tough fight. She lost the first fight so I knew she wanted to come after me. I’m really happy that I got the win though."
“It was a tough fight but I really enjoyed it. I thought that I had done enough because Lina could barely stand up by the end. I really wanted to finish her on the floor but I wasn’t able to."
Here's how Lansberg looked at the end. Ouchy.
UFC Fight Night 107 preview
What is it?
It's 'UFC Fight Night 107: Manuwa vs. Anderson', the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event on UK soil in 2017.
When is it?
Fight night is Saturday, March 18.
What time does it start?
The main card kicks off at 9pm GMT, the prelims commence at 5:30pm.
What TV channel is it on?
BT Sport 2 will be broadcasting the main card, while the preliminary bouts will be on BT Sport Extra.
The UFC's own 'Fight Pass' will also allow you to view all the fights.
Which venue is hosting it?
The O2 Arena in London plays host to the UFC for the seventh time, the first since February 2016 - when Michael Bisping defeated Anderson Silva.
Can I still get tickets?
Yes, though a lot of the lower-price-category tickets have sold out.
The only tickets that remain available directly cost between £135 and £200. However, on the O2 Arena's official resale website, Stubhub, tickets can be purchased for as little as £35.
Who is fighting?
As the title suggests, top billing is taken up by light-heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson.
Sharing the main card are the welterweight pairing of Gunnar Nelson and Alan Jouban, bantamweights Brad Pickett and Marlon Vera, and featherweights Arnold Allen and Makwan Amirkhani.
The preliminary card features nine other fights to be settled before the main event.
Tale of the tape: Manuwa vs Anderson
- Nickname: Poster Boy
- Country: UK [US]
- Record: 16-2-0
- Knockout rate: 88%
- Height: 73 inches
- Reach: 79 inches
- Leg reach: 43 inches
- Weight: 205 pounds (93kg)
- Nickname: Overtime
- Country: US
- Record: 10-2-0
- Knockout rate: 40%
- Height: 75 inches
- Reach: 79 inches
- Leg reach: 44 inches
- Weight: 205 pounds (93kg)
What are they saying?
I plan on dishing out more pain, another stoppage, another stoppage win.
Corey Anderson’s a great fighter and I look forward the challenge of fighting him. He’s got great wrestling, he’s got great ground and pound, good boxing, he’s good all around.
But I just come to give out pain, and not a lot of people can take it. Believe me, I’m working very hard and I plan on ending his night very early.
He [Maunwa] is a hell of a striker, he’s very dangerous.
When he comes with his shots over the top, when he slips and comes back, it comes fast. So you've got to be ready. He’s a good veteran, a smart veteran.
We’re prepared for whatever. Whether we have to sit there and box it out, whether we wrestle it out, whether we go jiu-jitsu, whatever it is, we’re ready.
What are the latest betting odds?
Manuwa vs Anderson
- Jimi Manuwa to win: 4/6
- Corey Anderson to win: 6/5
Nelson vs Jouban
- Gunnar Nelson to win: 3/10
- Alan Jouban to win: 12/5
Pickett vs Vera
- Brad Pickett to win: 8/13
- Marlon Vera to win: 5/4
Allen vs Amirkhani
- Arnold Allen to win: 4/5
- Makwan Amirkhani to win: EVENS