London's calling, and Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal have answered.
The UFC® has rewarded the faithful in England's capital with one of the best Fight Night cards in recent memory, with each bout holding significance for the future of its respective divisions.
Some of the best that the UK has to offer will be taking center stage in The Octagon®, with the hope that the energy and sheer noise of a hometown crowd can propel them to victory.
Here are your official predictions for UFC Fight Night London:
Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal
'The Gorilla' versus 'Gamebred'.
Some fights emerge from a scorching hot rivalry that can't be resolved anywhere outside of the cage, but then there are those that come from two fighters just looking for anyone willing to take them on.
That is, seemingly, how this main event fight came to be.
@darrentill2 I hear you having the same probs I am trying to find someone to fight you in your backyard. I love fighting in other peoples backyards. I’m game if ufc can make it happen— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) January 14, 2019
Shortly after this Twitter exchange, the UFC booked the bout between two of the Welterweight division's biggest names.
Till's return to London comes just months after suffering the first loss of his professional career after being battered and submitted by Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley within one round at UFC 228. Till, the ever-confident Liverpudlian, took the loss on the chin and humbled himself in front of the media after the defeat to the then-champion.
But the fire still burns for the 26-year old contender, who decided to stay in the 170-pound division instead of moving up to Middleweight after several questions about his ability to make weight.
Jorge Masvidal's standing in the division is also in question after back-to-back decision losses to Demian Maia and Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson. After making his name at Lightweight, Masvidal took the jump up to 170 in 2015 to mixed results. He's 4-4 in the division and has yet to put a series of wins together to get his name near the top of the rankings.
It's important to note that Till's last victory before the Woodley fight was against Thompson, who bested Masvidal easily in his most recent fight. Matchups don't always work one-to-one like that, but it's a testament to Till's striking skill and the style of fight that makes Masvidal uncomfortable.
Till also has a massive size advantage. He's arguably the biggest fighter in the Welterweight division and has claimed that 185 will be his future home once he's done with his current weight class. And Masvidal, as previously noted, is on the smaller end of 170, with many claiming that Lightweight is his true home.
With a proper striking and size advantage, plus the home crowd in his corner, this fight has the potential to be the start of Till's comeback tale.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Till via TKO
Leon Edwards vs. Gunnar Nelson
It's rare to see that the top two fights on a card have heavy implications on one another, but that's the case for UFC London.
With Leon Edwards currently at No. 9 in the Welterweight rankings and Gunnar Nelson hovering right above the Top 10, the loser of the main event could be next in line for the victor of this bout.
Both men enter this fight with their last wins coming against a 'Cowboy'. Edwards defeated Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone at a Fight Night in June of 2018, and Nelson submitted Alex 'Cowboy' Oliviera in a dominant performance at UFC 231.
Edwards is the more effective striker and his game plan will be to keep this fight on its feet. However, Nelson has enough of a sufficient striking game to stay busy and wait for the perfect time to get Edwards on the mat. While Edwards' wrestling has improved dramatically since his debut in 2014, Nelson is just a stronger and more creative opponent when on the mat.
If the fight goes to the ground, which it probably will, expect Nelson to find a way to put Edwards into an uncomfortable position.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Nelson via Submission
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Dominick Reyes
With the recent defeat of Anthony Smith at the hands of Jon Jones, the Light Heavyweight division is as open as it has been in years. Most of the division's recognizable names have either aged out or moved out of the weight class, leaving the door open for a new age to commence.
Enter the undefeated Dominick Reyes. At 10-0, Reyes has proven his status as a potential contender with a real claim for a title fight if he can rattle off another couple of victories. After defeating veteran Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 229, Reyes made his first appearance in the Top 10 rankings, currently sitting at No. 8.
Volkan Oezdemir is reeling from two straight defeats, one at the hands of Daniel Cormier and the other by the aforementioned Smith, but at 29 years of age, the future is still bright for the Swiss kickboxing specialist.
Both men are quick starters — Reyes has three first round finishes in the UFC, and Oezdemir's last two victories have come by way of knockout within the first minute. A flashy KO victory would do both men good as far as their standing in the division and push them right into the conversation of a future title shot.
With a potential three fight losing skid as the consequence of defeat, expect Oezdemir to bring out a sharp fight plan in order to take care of the less tested Reyes.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Oezdemir via KO
Nathaniel Wood vs. Jose Quinonez
London's Nathaniel Wood returns home to put his nickname 'The Prospect' to the test.
Wood, who is 2-0 since joining the UFC last year, has the chance to prove himself as a mainstay in the Bantamweight division with a victory over Jose Quinonez.
First arriving in the UFC by way of The Ultimate Fighter, Quinonez has become a recognizable name at 135 after pulling off four consecutive wins.
This may sound odd right off the bat, but this fight will be decided by the style of decision. Here's what we mean: Wood's fights only go to decision 13-percent of the time, while Quinonez bouts go the full distance 63-percent of the time. You can view this at a high-level with Wood being a finisher, and Quinonez being content with leaving the decision in the judges hands.
Is this an imperfect science? Absolutely. But the past does often impact the present in MMA, and these two fighters' tale of the tape tells very different stories.
As for the fight itself, Wood lands 4.37 significant strikes per minute and has not been taken down yet in the UFC. Expect him to land on Quinonez while his Mexican counterpart is looking to shoot.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Wood via TKO
Danny Roberts vs. Claudio Silva
If there is an international fight card, there's a chance that Danny Roberts is trying to get on it. This will be the British welterweight's sixth consecutive international fight and a homecoming in front of a London crowd.
Roberts is 5-2 since joining the UFC in 2015 and is currently on a two-fight winning streak.
Across the cage from Roberts will be Brazilian Claudio Silva, a 12-1 jiu-jitsu specialist.
This bout will come down to an old-fashioned style battle. Roberts is one of the most exciting British strikers in the sport, meaning that Silva's game plan from the jump will be to get him on the mat. Silva shoots for just over three takedowns per 15-minute fight, but it just takes one for the man nicknamed 'Hannibal' to start working on his prey.
Roberts holds a 57-percent takedown defense, which is strong but not enough to scare Silva away from shooting.
This fight will be decided by who starts off as the aggressor. If Roberts pushes the pace and keeps Silva's back to the cage, he'll be able to telegraph the takedown attempt more effectively.
Also, it doesn't hurt to have a home crowd backing you up.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Roberts via TKO
Jack Marshman vs. John Phillips
The entire country of Wales will have its eyes on this bout when two of its sons go to war for the first time in UFC history.
Both Welsh fighters enter this Middleweight clash hoping to get their careers back on track.
Jack Marshman is coming off consecutive losses and is an underwhelming 2-3 since joining the UFC in 2016. He came into the UFC with a considerable amount of hype as a former Cage Warrior FC and BAMMA Middleweight champion but hasn't come close to replicating that success since entering The Octagon.
John Phillips is 0-2 in the UFC and will need to score a victory against Marshman if he has hopes of staying with the promotion. Both of his losses have come by submission, so the matchup with Marshman doesn't favor the Phillips.
While Phillips has 18 knockout wins to his name, his ground game is subpar and will be a weakness than Marshman will look to exploit. Marshman has five career submission wins to his name, so expect him to try and use his jiu jitsu against Phillips and get back in the win column.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Marshman via Submission
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