The UFC is back in London! This week, London is, indeed, calling as the UFC comes to us live from the O2 Arena in London, England, with a card featuring the long awaited return of Manchester's Tom Aspinall. Here, though, we are breaking down the co-main event – a women's flyweight matchup between fan favourite “Meatball” Molly McCann, who makes her return against Lithuania's Julija Stoliarenko. Read on to find our prediction below for what is sure to be a firecracker of a co-main event!
Molly McCann: “Meatball” Seeking Renewed Momentum
“Meatball” Molly McCann is back.
Following her dominant loss to Erin Blanchfield at UFC 281 in November of last year, Molly McCann is once again featured on a card in UFC London, and she is hoping to get some much-needed momentum back in her title charge in the flyweight division. Prior to said loss against Blanchfield (who has been widely predicted to be champion in the future), McCann was on a three fight win streak, with two of those wins being violent finishes. McCann will be hoping to get herself firmly back on track with a win over Stoliarenko on Saturday night in London.
Julija Stoliarenko: Hoping to Cause a Big Upset
Julija Stoliarenko desperately needs to get something going in her UFC career.
Not to be unfair to Julija Stoliarenko, but it is fair to say that she has failed to live up to the hype so far in her UFC career. However, she is making the move down to flyweight in the hope of resurrecting her UFC career to date.
Despite finally winning in July of last year (an armbar win over Jessica Rose-Clark at UFC 276), she is coming into this fight off of the back of yet another loss, a first round KO loss to Chelsea Chandler. It would appear to some (and many have made the prediction) that Stoliarenko is simply being fed to McCann in order to get some of her own momentum, so it is really up to Julija Stoliarenko to cause the ultimate upset in London.
Molly McCann: Path to Victory – Use the Crowd, Use the Hands
Molly McCann's path to victory in this fight is incredibly easy to predict – keep this fight standing, and she has a very good chance of winning.
Molly McCann has proven throughout her UFC career that she has very heavy hands, and that she loves hunting her opponent down and blasting her with said heavy hands. McCann also does a truly excellent job of feeding off of the crowd, and using that momentum to push herself through to get the job done. She did this excellently against Luana Carolina and against Hannah Goldy. It seems relatively straightforward that McCann ought to be able to continue this pattern against Julija Stoliarenko on Saturday night.
HOWEVER – McCann also has to be very, very careful. Many made the prediction that if McCann got taken down against Erin Blanchfield, then she would get eaten alive; that's exactly what happened. Many people might not appreciate that Julija Stoliarenko has a serious ground game pedigree. As a BJJ black belt, as well as being a two time BJJ World medalist, McCann must NOT let this fight hit the ground, or she could be in serious trouble.
Julija Stoliarenko: Path to Victory – Silence the Crowd, Take McCann Down
Despite being on a pretty terrible run of form, Julija Stoliarenko does actually have a path to victory in this fight.
As mentioned above, Molly McCann is by far the favourite to win this fight – there's no doubt about that. However, McCann has also shown an acute weakness when it comes to her ground game, a weakness that was brutally exposed by Erin Blanchfield. Whilst Julija Stoliarenko is not even remotely as good a wrestler as Blanchfield, she does have excellent BJJ pedigree.
Stoliarenko's potential path to victory in this is going to come in two parts. First, I can confidently make the prediction that Stoliarenko will have to silence the crowd early; as in first round early. If the crowd get behind Molly early, then that momentum will be very hard to stop. And with Stoliarenko's recent run of form, I don't think she'll have the confidence to turn the tide of the crowd if she can't silence the crowd early.
Now, assuming that Stoliarenko can achieve the first part, then the second part comes into play. If Julija can get McCann down to the ground, then McCann could well be in very big trouble. I just do not trust McCann's ground game at all, and I don't trust her ability to take on a legitimate BJJ black belt at her own game. Against Erin Blanchfield, McCann was completely floundered on the ground, and ended up in a crucifix because she had no idea what to do. Whilst her record in the UFC might be 1-4, the ground is where Julija Stoliarenko is very game, and she is more than capable of punishing McCann if the fight gets there.
Official Prediction: “Meatball” Molly to Scorch Stoliarenko
My official prediction for this fight is relatively simple.
Given the recent runs of form, as well as their records and styles of fighting, I think Molly McCann is going to win this fight, and pick up some much-needed momentum in the women's flyweight division.
I predict that the crowd is going to be a huge factor in this fight, and I think they will provide Molly McCann with all the momentum she will need. As long as she gets a good start early on, then I see no reason why McCann won't be extremely confident of picking up a win in this fight. As also mentioned above, I think that Stoliarenko is also not confident enough to turn the crowd quiet, and I think she'll get overwhelmed by the occasion.
Official prediction: Molly McCann to win via second round KO.