After we first heard news of January’s UFC 233 event the other day, the next card for 2019 has now been officially revealed by the UFC, and I’ll give my thoughts on it in today’s MMA odds and ends.
UFC London 2019 Set
The UFC has officially announced its return to London, England as the card will take place March 16 at The O2. No bouts have been officially announced for the card just yet, but its expected the UFC will start announcing fights for 2019 cards very shortly.
Thinking ahead to who could be on the card, one name to keep on your radar for the main event is Darren Till. With Michael Bisping having retired last year, the UFC needs a superstar from Britain to headline its events there, and Till is the guy. Even with Till getting tapped out by Tyron Woodley back at UFC 228, he’s still a big name and someone the UFC wants to push. Till hasn’t made a decision on whether or not he is staying at welterweight or moving up to middleweight, but there are some interesting options for his next fight depending on the weight class.
Should Till elect to stay at welterweight, a high-profile matchup against UFC newcomer Ben Askren could make sense. Askren and Till have already been jawing each other all over social media and Till would seem to be a good indroductory fight for Askren considering his ties to Woodley. The UFC may want to save Askren for a higher-profile pay-per-view card, but a fight against Till would be pretty good too. Other than Askren, perhaps Till could fight Jorge Masvidal or the loser of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kamaru Usman, which takes place later this month. That’s if he stays at welterweight, becuase if he moves up to middleweight there are even more options for Till including bouts against the likes of Brad Tavares or Uriah Hall makes sense. This is all assuming Till actually headlines this card, but without too many other European superstars, it seems to make a lot of sense.
Other than Till, other England-based fighters who I expect to fight in London are: Jimi Manuwa, who fights Thiago Santos at UFC 231 in December and who could potentially be in a title eliminator depending on what happens in that bout; Tom Breese, who fights Cezar Ferreira later this month at UFC Fight Night 140; Darren Stewart, who fights Edmen Shahbazyan at the TUF 28 Finale later this month; Arnold Allen, who takes on Gilbert Melendez at the TUF 28 Finale; and potentially Ross Pearson, depending on what happens in his fight against Joe Duffy at UFC Fight Night 142. Safe to say there will be plenty of English content on this card, but it just depends on what happens in their upcoming fights.
Now that the UFC has revealed both the UFC 233 and London cards, I expect more announcements for 2019 events to come soon. There are plenty of rumors floating around about potential cities holding events next year (including Vancouver), and in the coming weeks we’ll likely get the full first quarter schedule for the new year revealed to us.