UFC London preview: Volkov vs Aspinall analysis

UFC London preview: Volkov vs Aspinall analysis

UFC London finally returns tonight after a three-year absence and our in-depth analysis of the data can help with UFC London predictions.

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The 24 previous visits to the UK have been spread across eight cities and 11 venues, but London has staged almost half of these.

This will be the 12th such event to be staged in the capital and the 10th at the O2 Arena, with Manchester the only other city to have seen more than two.

The importance of promoting domestic talent is always high on the agenda, with this being headlined by a heavyweight bout between experienced Russian Alexander Volkov and an up-and-coming Brit in Tom Aspinall.

Will Volkov’s experience give him an edge?

Salford-born Aspinall – who would surely have preferred to be fighting in the Manchester Arena – will be making only his fifth UFC appearance and his first in front of a live crowd. At six foot five he is two inches shorter than the more experienced Volkov, who is five years his senior and significantly more experienced.

While Aspinall has not been on the scene for as long, his initial forays into UFC have been encouraging. He has won all of his four fights to date, with three of them earning him the Performance of the Night award.

Volkov will be making his 12th UFC appearance and is no stranger to the UK. He won in Belfast in 2016 and at the O2 Arena in 2018, with the latter also judged to be the Performance of the Night.

Aspinall has spent just under 11 minutes in action since his move to UFC, which is far less than Volkov’s tally of close to three hours. The British fighter is used to speedy resolutions, with nine of his 11 MMA victories to date having been knockouts and the other two ending in submissions.

The longer this fight goes on, the more familiar the situation will be to Volkov, who has seen four of his previous eight victories lasting the full distance and being decided by the judges.

Volkov vs Aspinall betting

How could Volkov vs Aspinall play out?

Aspinall has been the more industrious fighter in his brief UFC career so far, landing over seven significant strikes per minute and securing a takedown once every six minutes. In comparison, Volkov has connected with fewer than five significant strikers per minute and landed a takedown once every 28.

Aspinall’s numbers may well be skewed by the shortness of his four fights to date though, as only one has gone beyond the first round and he will therefore not have had his stamina tested.

We can potentially learn more by looking at more granular data: specifically every strike landed in Aspinall’s four UFC fights to date with Volkov’s four most recent.

The Russian’s fearsome kicking ability is easy to spot in the numbers, with 87% of his strikes having been landed from distance compared to just 56% of Aspinall’s.

With barely any of the blows landed on the Russian coming from close quarters, the outcome of this UFC London 2022 fight could depend on whether Aspinall can get in close.

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