UFC 304 potential fight card at Manchester Co-op Live including Tom Aspinall, Paddy Pimblett and Leon Edwards

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It’s going to be a huge night of action featuring Britain’s top MMA stars.

Despite a controversial start time of 3am in the UK, fans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship clearly can’t wait for UFC 304 in Manchester in July.

Taking place in the brand-new Co-op Live arena, it will be only the second time that the premier mixed martial arts organisation in the world has hosted an event in Manchester after Michael Bisping headlined UFC 204 eight years ago in the Manchester Arena. It is also the first sports event announced for the new venue but what can fight fans expect from the main card?

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Leon Edwards v Belal Muhammad 2

Leon Edwards is one of the few British champions in UFC history Leon Edwards is one of the few British champions in UFC history
Leon Edwards is one of the few British champions in UFC history

An event on British soil will almost certainly be headlined by Birmingham’s undisputed welterweight champion Leon Edwards. Edwards headlined the previous numbered card on British soil last March in a rematch against Kamaru Usman in London.

After securing a majority decision victory over the former champion, Edwards defended his belt in America against the controversial Colby Covington, setting up another homecoming bout this summer. His opponent will undoubtedly be no.2 ranked Belal Muhammad who currently boasts a nine-fight win streak in the welterweight division. The pair previously clashed in March 2021 but the bout ended early after an accidental eye poke from Edwards rendered Muhammad unable to continue the bout, creating bad blood that can only be settled in a rematch in July.

Tom Aspinall v Curtis Blaydes 2

Tom Aspinall roars with delight after winning the UFC heavyweight title in New YorkTom Aspinall roars with delight after winning the UFC heavyweight title in New York
Tom Aspinall roars with delight after winning the UFC heavyweight title in New York

Speaking on TikTok, the interim heavyweight champion said: “It has now been confirmed that I am fighting on UFC Manchester, so I'm back home preparing for that now. I've started the early stages of training camp. I'm just waiting for my opponent to accept.”

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While Manchester fans would love to see their local star at the top of the card, it is likely that he will fight in the co-main event of the evening with England also boasting a unified champion in Edwards. And fans can expect him to face off against no.4 ranked heavyweight Curtis Blaydes in an exciting rematch of their 2022 bout.

Blaydes remains the only man to defeat Aspinall in the UFC and, coming off a performance of the night win over highly-rated Jailton Almeida, he looks best-placed to earn the fight in Manchester. However, with Aspinall’s defeat caused by a freak knee injury within the first 15 seconds of the fight, the door remains open for the pair to clash again this summer.

Muhammad Mokaev v Brandon Royval

Wigan UFC star Muhammad Mokaev is closing in on a title shotWigan UFC star Muhammad Mokaev is closing in on a title shot
Wigan UFC star Muhammad Mokaev is closing in on a title shot

Wigan’s Muhammad Mokaev will no doubt look to extend his unbeaten record in Manchester and further cement his chances of a flyweight title shot at the end of the year.

After missing out on the chance to face the champion in this weekend’s UFC 301 card in Rio de Janeiro, Mokaev will want to leave no doubt that he is next in line and therefore, should face no.1 ranked contender Brandon Royval. Both men are coming off career-best victories at the start of this year and will need to stay active if they hope to face the winner of this weekend’s clash and take a chance of claiming flyweight gold.

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Michael Page v Stephen Thompson

Michael Page arrived in the UFC in some styleMichael Page arrived in the UFC in some style
Michael Page arrived in the UFC in some style

In March, Michael Page announced himself to the world, securing a dominant unanimous decision victory over Kevin Holland in his UFC debut.

The 37-year-old Londoner enjoyed an impressive career in rival company Bellator but joined the UFC this year to make a run for the welterweight title in the most prestigious MMA organisation. And a fight with no.9 ranked Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, seems like a no-brainer and a near shoe-in for fight of the night with both men known for their elite kickboxing talent. 

Paddy Pimblett v Bobby Green

Paddy Pimblett is one of the stars of UK and world MMA after capturing the imagination of UFC fansPaddy Pimblett is one of the stars of UK and world MMA after capturing the imagination of UFC fans
Paddy Pimblett is one of the stars of UK and world MMA after capturing the imagination of UFC fans

After a series of heated exchanges between the pair, a fight between Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett and Bobby Green would be a perfect opener to the UFC Manchester opening card.

Following a bloody victory over Jim Miller at the historic UFC 300 event last month, Bobby Green took to the microphone to call out Britain’s most eccentric fighter.

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He said: “Paddy, how dare you, you slimy, sugary little snake, how dare you say my name? I'm coming after you. July, I'm coming to your backyard, with your people, to kick your ***."

Pimblett responded on his YouTube channel, saying: “Bobby Green screamed my name on the mic. It didn’t surprise me. He might be ranked but he’s got no followers, and he needs me. Just like everybody else they want to fight me because they know I’m the boy. So, if Bobby Green wants to fight, I’m there.”

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