Published on February 18, 2013 | by Craig Matthews

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UFC preview: Wembley Arena

UFC 95, held at London’s O2 Arena back in 2009.
Photo courtesy of Marina on Flickr

UFC returns to England this week with action taking place at Wembley Arena on Saturday night. The event is the second promotion in the country in the last six months, given its growing popularity on these shores.

The main card sees Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Renan Barao square up against American Michael “Mayday” McDonald. However, most eyes will be on preliminary fighter Andy Ogle who competed in the last season of Ultimate Fighter.

Ogle, who fights out of Newcastle, impressed many throughout the series, only to be knocked out in the semi-finals of the competition against Al Iaquinta through a first round knockout.

Despite not winning the competition, Ogle impressed enough to be rewarded with a UFC contract from president Dana White. He competed a few months after the end of the competition in the UFC for the first time and lost on a dubious split decision.

The orthodox kick-boxer will be looking to kick-start his UFC career with his first victory in his home country against knockout specialist Josh Grispi. The 24-year-old, who fights out of Boston USA, has an impressive 14-4-0 record since joining the UFC and will be a very formidable opponent for Ogle.

The main event of Barao versus McDonald will be a good fight for fans of striking, as both fighters prefer to stand up and box, which should make for an entertaining knockout.

Barao has one of the most impressive records within the UFC as he is currently on a 29-victory streak only losing one of his 31 fights. The bantamweight fighter will surely be looking to gain another victory via knockout and retain his UFC Bantamweight Championship.

The card is impressive and boasts some household names. The decision to bring the UFC back to the United Kingdom so quickly since its September date has shown the huge growth in interest in the last year for the sport.

The British are embracing the sport with many more British participants joining the elite, thus increasing interest in this country. There are numerous other British fighters hoping to make the grade in the near future, with Ultimate Fighter contestant Luke Barnatt, who fights out of Cambridge, a particularly hot prospect.

For now, Britain can enjoy what is sure to be a spectacular night of fighting, with many more set to be scheduled on these shores as excitement for the sport mounts.

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