One-to-watch: British MMA to take the UFC by storm in 2021 – which fighter should you keep your eye on?
By Jacob Rolfe
MMA is more popular than ever in the UK with torchbearers Leon Edwards and Darren Till leading the charge to the top of the UFC. The British presence has been slowly building since Michael Bisping cemented himself as the first Brit to win a UFC Championship belt. But who will be the second?
2021 could be a huge year for British MMA with a number of talented fighters on the brink of major breakthroughs at the pinnacle of the sport. We’ve taken a look at the current roster of British fighters in the UFC and decided on our top three talents to keep an eye on in the upcoming year.
3. Lerone ‘The Miracle’ Murphy
The young kickboxer from Manchester is undefeated in his professional MMA career with six knockouts in 10 wins. Murphy has now proved his talent on the biggest stage and 2021 could be his most successful year yet. The Miracle has already got a win under his belt in 2021, against a seriously dangerous opponent in Douglas Silva De Andrade. It was only two fights prior that the Brazilian was considered a real contender, squaring off against the now Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan.
This didn’t faze Murphy, and in only his second UFC fight, The Miracle put on a dominant performance showing his array of striking skills, placing him just a couple of wins away from a potential breakthrough into the UFC Featherweight top 15.
2. Arnold ‘Almighty’ Allen
The youngster has already racked up an impressive 16-1 professional record which has seen him rise to 11th in the UFC featherweight rankings. Despite his remarkable rise, Allen hasn’t grabbed the attention of the fans and remains on the periphery of talk about exciting British prospects. He might not be finishing every opponent, but he is certainly an extremely talented fighter.
Allen had two fights against top 10 contenders cancelled but is now set to fight undefeated, 10th ranked opponent Sodiq Yussuf in April. Should he continue his win streak, Allen could cement his place in the conversation with serious title contenders like The Korean Zombie and Calvin Kattar. Will he be out of his depth? I wouldn’t bet on it.
The Salford born 27 year old is our pick for the number one British fighter to watch this year. Each of his 10 wins has been finished, with eight knockouts and two submissions.
The Heavyweight division is set to heat up with the return of fan favourite Jon Jones, but you can add Tom Aspinall to the list of contenders this year. Like Lerone Murphy, he has already secured himself a win in 2021, over none other than seasoned veteran Andrei Arlovski. The Pitbull has been a mainstay in the Heavyweight conversation over the years but Aspinall promptly dispatched of him with a second round rear-naked choke. This is the first time an opponent has made it to the second round with Aspinall in over four years. He likes to finish his fights, and he likes to finish them quickly.
The rankings are fairly competitive and this is why we expect to see Aspinall climbing them in rapid fashion. There are some very winnable fights for him in the top 15 and if he continues to win in such dominant fashion, we could see him launched into the Heavyweight title conversation in the next few years. This could be the year that Tom Aspinall and British MMA announces that they are here to stay.