UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions

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UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions & Results

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Three years since the UFC has returned to the UK, bloody COVID. UFC London is filled to the brim with British prospects, but don’t expect a homecoming party. Only Paddy Pimblett has benefitted from kind matchmaking, so while a generation of British talents could have their hype train stopped, it also makes for one of the most compelling fight cards of the year.

As a side note, why is Molly McCann slotted in the main event over other notable fights? Most staggering, Jack Shore and Timur Valiev’s titanic Bantamweight scrap finds itself floating around the prelims.

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A modern day caveman | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions
A modern day caveman | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions

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UFC London: Main Event

Alexander Volkov vs Tom Aspinall

Heavyweigth (265)

Alexander Volkov (34-9)

Far too much of Alexander Volkov’s stock has tanked since the Derrick Lewis loss. A momentary blip ten seconds out from the final bell, and Volkov’s six-fight streak was wiped from fans’ minds and history books alike. Lest us forget that this is the same fighter who held his own for five rounds on the feet with Ciryl Gane, smoked former champion Fabricio Werdum and has existed around the division’s top for four years.

Volkov’s flaws have remained glaringly obvious throughout his career. One pace on the feet can see superior strikers (i.e. Gane) outwork Volkov and never allow the Russian to settle into a rhythm. A paper-thin TDD also allows chain-wrestlers (i.e. Curtis Blaydes) to rack up dominant early rounds. Now, that isn’t to say that Volkov is easy to out-wrestle. The Russian hits the mat a lot, but it is almost impossible to tie Volkov down for extended periods. His lanky frame and unbreakable mentality often see Volkov return to his feet.

Ferociously consistent, Volkov enters the octagon with a set pattern of striking combinations that are unleashed with deadly accuracy. At range, Volkov picks away with conservative 1-2s. On the inside, Volkov’s knees cause serious trouble. While Volkov’s gas tank has shown some chinks in the armour over the past couple of fights, the Russian is still a far more proven championship round fighter than Aspinall. Drago’s chin, unless drastically tanking during this training camp, seems more than capable of handling Aspinall’s early potency on the feet.

Tom Aspinall (11-2)

Too soon too early for Tom Aspinall? While the Salford man has torn his way through the gatekeepers at Heavyweight, Aspinall did explicitly state in his post-fight interview last time out that he wanted to stay at lower echelons of the top-15 for a while longer. What does the UFC opt for? Whack Aspinall in with one of the trickiest, experienced veterans that 265lbs can offer. Aspinall loses and his hype train loses steam, Aspinall wins and he is shoehorned into fighting only the top dogs.

Aspinall’s slew of finishes have caught many eyes, but at some point (even at Heavyweight), a fighter needs to dig deep and grind out rounds. Christ, even N’Gannou had to swallow his pride and rid his ego to out-wrestle Ciryl Gane in his title defence. Although Aspinall has a well-rounded skillset and proved his ability to adapt with a striking-to-wrestling change against Andrei Arlovski, we are yet to see Aspinall adapt under pressure from a live body. Worryingly, there were clear signs of fatigue after one dominant round of striking against Arlovski.

Aspinall’s wrestling benefits from his threat in the clinch. Crunching elbows and knees open up opponents and allow an avenue for the takedown. The towering physique of Volkov offers great real estate for Aspinall to work the body, even if the Russian is adept at clinch striking himself. Still, if Aspinall fights on the inside, he can avoid the sharp kicks of Volkov and force an uncomfortable pace on the Russian. An Aspinall submission isn’t off the cards, the Brit could easily surprise Volkov with his superior speed, but it isn’t a safe back.

Predicted Result: Volkov Decision

Opting for the proven quantity in Volkov. While Volkov’s gas tank has shown some chinks in the armour over the past couple of fights, the Russian is still a far more proven championship round fighter than Aspinall. Drago’s chin, unless drastically tanking during this training camp, seems more than capable of handling Aspinall’s early potency on the feet. Likewise, Aspinall’s wrestling threat could see the Russian hit the mat several times early doors, but it is almost impossible to tie Volkov down for extended periods.

Without the tape to suggest otherwise, Aspinall’s greatest chances of victory reside in the opening rounds. If Aspinall fights on the inside, he can avoid the sharp kicks of Volkov and force an uncomfortable pace on the Russian. Additionally, an Aspinall submission isn’t off the cards, the Brit could easily surprise Volkov with his superior speed. Worryingly, signs of fatigue after one dominant round of striking against Arlovski indicate a pace that cannot be sustained over five rounds. In a low-output affair on the feet, Volkov’s range and consistently accurate counters have to be favoured.

Result: Aspinall def. Volkov // Submission (straight armbar) Round 1 3:45

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

I hate myself for not backing a fellow Northerner | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions
I hate myself for not backing a fellow Northerner | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions

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UFC London: Co-Main Event

Arnold Allen vs Dan Hooker

Featherweight (145)

Arnold Allen (17-1)

Incredible banger of a fight. Sitting on the quietest eight-fight streak in the UFC, Allen’s tendency to go to the scorecards masks the excitement that the Suffolk native brings. While Allen can be criticised for using his chin liberally, he often reads incoming damage and sets up counters that win 50/50 trades. Against Dan Hooker, a momentum fighter who thrives off landing, it could be a dangerous stylistic match-up. A slow start against Hooker could spell doom as Allen regularly starts tentatively on the front foot. There is also Allen’s ground game that could be overlooked in a fight that most fans foresee as a striking delight. The speed differential at Featherweight could be visibly stark on Saturday night.

Dan Hooker (21-11)

Although I never doubted Dan Hooker’s ability to make Featherweight, I am still worried about the drain that Hooker is putting upon his body. Hooker may have fallen back upon his wrestling against Nasrat Haqparast, but it was in large part because of the damage the Kiwi was eating in the opening round. After a long career of wars in the cage and training camps, the miles on the body appear to finally be catching up to the Hangman. The Hangman has only been fighting the best for the past few years, however, and Hooker has always proven himself to be a lethal finisher when the opportunity arises. If this fight falls into a scrap, even with the physical deterioration, Hooker will always thrive in the madness.

Predicted Result: Allen Decision

Hooker’s 1-3 record hides the quality of opposition that the Kiwi has faced off with. The loss to Dustin Poirier could easily have swung the other way with a different set of scorers. Nevertheless, the move back to Featherweight and the drain on a body that has endured several wars have raised red flags. Allen, a tentative starter, could allow Hooker to set a gruesome early pace and pick apart the prospect. The speed differential will probably prove too much, however, while Allen’s sharp defensive work and underrated wrestling base will see the prospect shave a decision.

Result: Allen def. Hooker // TKO (punches and elbows) Round 1 2:33

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Dan Hooker is built like a damn kangaroo | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions
Dan Hooker is built like a damn kangaroo | UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall Predictions

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UFC London: Main Card

Paddy Pimblett vs Rodrigo Vargas

Lightweight (155)

Paddy Pimblett (17-3)

Paddy the Baddy has talked himself into one of the biggest names in the company, belying his limited skill set. Eventually, Pimblett’s weight problems outside of the octagon will catch up to the scouser – some photos make him resemble Prince Naseem. The UFC are keen to keep a potential cash cow sweet, searching far and wide for opponents that are primed to fall for Pimblett’s reckless, aggressive style. On the feet, Pimblett throws everything at the wall with complete disregard for anything defensive. His chin is decent enough but he will walk himself onto brutal knockouts at some point. Pimblett’s grappling is fast, entertaining and ambitious but cannot tie more physical wrestlers to the mat.

Rodrigo Vargas (12-4)

Rodrigo Vargas should not be viewed as the heavy underdog that most see the Mexican as. The thirty-six-year-old is unlikely to climb far up the Featherweight rankings, but he showcased a fine jab and several nuanced feints against Zhu Rong. Rong is God awful, however. Vargas largely remains a regional fighter, and his preference for a slower-paced affair will allow Pimblett to fly out of the blocks and fight his preferred mess.

Predicted Result: Pimblett TKO Round 2

Rodrigo Vargas should not be viewed as the heavy underdog that most see the Mexican as. The thirty-six-year-old is unlikely to climb far up the Featherweight rankings, but he showcased a fine jab and several nuanced feints against Zhu Rong. Unfortunately, his preference for a slower-paced affair will allow Pimblett to fly out of the blocks and fight his preferred mess. Pimblett’s recklessness on the feet will catch up to him at some point, but against a career regional fighter, the scouser’s aggression will be overwhelming.

Result: Pimblett def. Vargas // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1 3:50

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Gunnar Nelson vs Takashi Sato

Welterweight (170)

Gunnar Nelson (17-5-1)

Out of the octagon for three years, just how far has Nelson regressed with a slew of injuries? On paper, Sato is a stylistic breeze, with the Icelandic long having proven his ability to survive against power-punchers before out-grappling his foes. A conservative, long-bladed stance often keeps Nelson safe from single-shot power punchers. An arsenal of trips helps Nelson guide fights to the mat from where the veteran’s technique often shines through.

Takashi Sato (16-4)

If Sato can physically impose himself over an ageing, injury-ridden Nelson, the Japanese power-puncher could push himself towards the rankings. Sato’s two submission losses to Belal Muhammad and Miguel Baeza suggest a trend that Nelson is primed to continue, but who knows the toll that three years out of the octagon has had over the Icelandic. Nelson is hittable when he attempts to wrap opponents in the clinch and Sato’s heavy hands have cracked opponents before.

Predicted Result: Nelson Submission Round 2

Out of the octagon for three years, just how far has Nelson regressed with a slew of injuries? On paper, Sato is a stylistic breeze, with the Icelandic long having proven his ability to survive against power-punchers before out-grappling his foes. A tough one to call when ring rust is factored into the equation, but Sato’s grappling deficiencies is the most glaring red flag.

Result: Nelson def. Sato // Decision (UD – 30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Molly McCann vs Luana Carolina

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Molly McCann (11-4)

Meatball is a fun fighter to watch. Often devolving fights into messy, aggressive brawls, McCann rides her chin to set a furious pace and bridge the gap between her limited and an opponent’s superior skillset. The sad part is that McCann’s chin isn’t spectacular, showing cracks in a division not known for heavy-hitters.

Luana Carolina (8-2)

Carolina has shown the ability to counter opponents, such as McCann, with long counters. On the flip side, Carolina has also shown an ability to drag herself into unnecessary wars and lose seemingly impossible trades. Without the threat of a takedown, it will create the ideal fight for McCann, but even then McCann doesn’t carry the power that will truly punish Carolina’s shocking defence.

Predicted Result: Carolina Decision

Maybe hometown advantage gives McCann the push to edge this contest, the scouser does live life with her heart on the shoulder. Carolina is the more intelligent counter-puncher, however, and McCann will happily plough forward all night if given the invitation. A sloppy, coin-flip of a fight but Carolina has at least some development over the past couple of fights.

Result: McCann def. Carolina // KO (spinning back elbow) Round 3 1:52

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Jai Herbert vs Ilia Topuria

Lightweight (155)

Jai Herbert (11-3)

Man, it has been a tough ride for Jai Herbert since his UFC debut. The Midlander was sparked by the wily old vet, Francisco Trinaldo, before facing a stylistic nightmare in Renato Moicano. The Black Country Banger is an entertaining striker with a strong understanding of range and accompanying arsenal of kicks, but his weak TDD and defensive grappling have proven too big a hill to overcome. Topuria is moving up in weight, with Herbert having the potential of out-muscling the Georgian at an unnatural weight. Regardless, the 8″ reach advantage plays into Herbert’s long striking and could surprisingly cause an upset.

Ilia Topuria (11-0)

The holes in Herbert’s TDD are far too glaring to overlook. Even with Topuria jumping up in weight, the Georgian regularly showed an ability to close distances safely at Featherweight and set up takedowns. Herbert doesn’t handle pressure on the mat, while Topuria owns brutal ground and pound (just ask MMA’s golden boy, Ryan hall). A fight that Topuria most likely wins and retrospectively people write off as a stylistic squash but ignores the reach differential and Herbert’s threat on the outside.

Predicted Result: Topuria Submission Round 2

The holes in Herbert’s TDD are far too glaring to overlook. Even with Topuria jumping up in weight, the Georgian regularly showed an ability to close distances safely at Featherweight and set up takedowns. Herbert’s 8″ reach advantage plays into his long striking, while his strong understanding of range and accompanying arsenal of kicks could catch Topuria by surprise. Not likely, however.

Result: Topuria def. Herbert // KO (punches) Round 2 1:07

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️

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UFC London: Preliminary Card

Mike Grundy vs Makwan Amirkhani

Featherweight (145)

Mike Grundy (12-3)

Saturday night could well represent Mike Grundy’s swansong in the UFC. With his terminally ill father in attendance, Grundy has been understandably emotional in the build-up. While the Wigan fighter has a poor tank, he remains a powerful wrestler with a functional boxing game. Amirkhani owns equally poor conditioning, setting up what should be a rollercoaster back-and-forth affair in the opening rounds. If Grundy stays on the feet and away from Finn’s lethal submission chops, Grundy’s greater volume should pull him ahead after a level opening.

Makwan Amirkhani (16-7)

During which round will Amirkhani gas himself out? Whether it is a mental flaw or a conditioning issue, the Finn has proven fully incapable of maintaining a strong pace into the third round. Mr Finland always carries a submission threat, but his increased kickboxing emphasis dies away by the mid-point. It is unlikely that Amirkhani can out-wrestle Grundy consistently, the Finn will have to gamble on taking out the Brit early.

Predicted Result: Grundy Decision

During which round will Amirkhani gas himself out? Mr Finland always carries a submission threat, but his increased kickboxing emphasis dies away by the mid-point. It is unlikely that Amirkhani can out-wrestle Grundy consistently, the Finn will have to gamble on taking out the Brit early. There is the potential for a draw here, with Grundy outclassed in the opening rounds before a dominant final round.

Result: Amirkhani def. Grundy // Technical Submission (anaconda choke) Round 1 0:57

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Shamil Abdurakhimov vs Sergei Pavlovich

Heavyweight (265)

Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-6)

The Russian used to be a solid name in the division, but now at forty years old, Abdurakhimov seems to be broken goods. Perhaps Chris Daukaus was a stylistic nightmare, his single-shots overwhelmed by Daukaus’ movement and volume, but the real red flag was Abdurakhimov’s chin deterioration. The Russian has always been a low-output fighter with the potential for a spectacular strike, but the durability doesn’t appear there anymore.

Sergei Pavlovich (14-1)

A baby at Heavyweight, just twenty-nine years old, Pavlovich was humbled on his UFC debut four years against Alistair Overeem. Sold as the fighter to retire a flailing Overeem, Pavlovich was out-wrestled at his own game and beaten to death with brutal elbows. A slow return against tame opponents has seen Pavlovich build his confidence. More accurate, powerful overhands are a growing weapon in Pavlovich’s game, with solid control wrestling always in the locker if needed to change the direction of a fight.

Predicted Result: Pavlovich TKO Round 3

After his death to Overeem hellbows, Sergei Pavlovich has slowly built his confidence against tame opposition. More accurate, powerful overhands are a growing weapon in Pavlovich’s game, with solid control wrestling always in the locker if needed to change the direction of a fight. Abdurakhimov has long been an underrated name in the Heavyweight division, but his chin looks well and truly finished. Pavlovich remains a limited fighter, but Father Time seems to have taken Abdurakhimov.

Result: Pavlovich def. Abdurakhimov // TKO (punches) Round 1 4:03

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

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Nikita Krylov vs Paul Craig

Light Heavyweight (205)

Nikita Krylov (27-8)

Love this fight on paper, hate this fight in reality. Since Krylov’s return to the UFC, the Ukrainian’s greater emphasis on defence has seen him fall into a three-fight decision streak with very little room for entertainment. At the same time, Krylov was only a scorecard away from claiming a decision victory over the current LHW champion, Glover Teixeira. The gameplan remains for Krylov to out-wrestle opponents, long gone are the days when Krylov was deadset on searching for finishes through kickboxing. Craig is wide open to being out-wrestled, but the Scot’s threat off the back cannot be overlooked.

Paul Craig (15-4-1)

Bearjew finds himself on a 4-0-1 streak, yet only recently has been open about his plans to retire? Despite the strange outburst, Craig seems to have lucked his way up the rankings with kind match-making and poor game plans from opponents. Shogun Rua was well over the hill, Antigulov has always been a loose cannon, while the victory over Jamahal Hill is impressive if evidence of yet another brash prospect falling away from their gameplan. Normally, you should never back a fighter to find a submission off their back. In regards to LHW as a division devoid of talent, as well as factoring in Craig’s track record of finding a hail mary sub off his back (need I mention, Ankalaev), there is reason to believe that Krylov sticks his head in a sticky situation on the mat.

Predicted Result: Krylov Decision

Long gone are the days when Krylov was deadset on searching for finishes. No longer a wild striker, Krylov opts to out-wrestle opponents. Craig is wide open to being out-wrestled, but the Scot’s threat off the back cannot be overlooked. A surprising track record of submissions from the back could punish Krylov’s tendency to position himself in sticky situations on the mat. Craig’s record is bloated after wins over the corpse of Shogun Rua and Antigulov, however, and I cannot bring myself to pick the gameplan of ‘hail mary submission’.

Result: Craig def. Krylov // Submission (triangle choke) Round 1 3:57

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Jack Shore vs Timur Valiev

Bantamweight (135)

Jack Shore (15-0)

Jack Shore is filthy underrated. FILTHY underrated. Constantly improving boxing is just another layer to Shore’s game that already includes fabulous controlling grappling. There is an athletic ceiling to Shore, which is an issue at Bantamweight, but he is yet to have faced an opponent who can maintain a ferocious pace on the feet. More often than not, Shore can trade somewhat equally on the feet before finding a way to out-classing opponents on the mat. Shore’s chin will be tested, as will his ability to adapt to a fighter who can stuff his clinch takedowns, but this is the ‘coming of age’ opportunity.

Timur Valiev (18-2)

After years of the Russian being hyped before his UFC debut, Valiev hasn’t inspired great hope with a 2-1 record that includes a very tight decision victory over Raoni Barcelos. Granted, Barcelos would be by far the biggest name on Shore’s record, but Valiev’s chin has shown cracks. Shore doesn’t pack the power to punish this, but declining durability indicates natural wear and tear that could spread to other areas. Valiev’s unorthodox creativity on the feet and superior volume will catch the judges’ eyes. If Valiev can keep himself away from the clinch, much of Shore’s wrestling threat is removed, but the Russian can be messy at times while Shore may as well be regarded as “Mr Consistent”.

Predicted Result: Shore Decision

An incredible banger of a fight between two fighters seemingly destined to break the top-fifteen. Valiev’s unorthodox creativity on the feet and superior volume will catch the judges’ eyes. If Valiev can keep himself away from the clinch, much of Shore’s wrestling threat is removed. There are frequent periods of recklessness from the Russian however, while the Welshman is incredibly consistent in his decision making. Even with the athletic gulf, Shore’s BJJ wizardry could well keep Valiev tangled on the ground if the fight finds its way there.

Result: Shore def. Valiev // Decision (UD – 29-28, 29-28, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Elise Reed vs Cory McKenna

Women’s Flyweight (115)

Elise Reed (4-1)

A fight between two fighters who likely shouldn’t be at the UFC level at their current stages. Reed was blown away by Sijara Eubanks, totally unable to prevent Eubanks from dictating the pace of their fight. Difficult to get excited over a fighter who struggles with the weight and is limited to sloppy takedowns and grappling.

Cory McKenna (6-1)

A tight boxer with solid wrestling credentials, McKenna has great potential for growth. Sharp combinations will punish Reed who opens her guard up after single shots, while a leaky TDD will provide the Welshwoman with every opportunity to take this to the mat. Reed can threaten with the armbar, but that’s about it.

Predicted Result: McKenna Decision

A tight boxer with solid wrestling credentials, McKenna has great potential for growth. Sharp combinations will punish Reed who opens her guard up after single shots, while a leaky TDD will provide the Welshwoman with every opportunity to take this to the mat.

Result: Reed def. McKenna // Decision (Split – 27-30, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Muhammad Mokaev vs Cody Durden

Flyweight (125)

Muhammad Mokaev (5-0)

With all the gum flapping, Mokaev had better be capable of backing up his words. Calling out every man and their dog in the build-up to his UFC debut, Mokaev gets a spicy fight against Cody Durden – racial undertones and all. The twenty-one-year-old is slowly growing into his body, evidenced by increased pop to his shots, but there is also strong grappling in the locker. There is a huge dose of recklessness behind Mokaev’s work, however, and it is a surprise that Mokaev is yet to taste defeat in his amateur or pro MMA career.

Cody Durden (12-3-1)

Foolishness outside of the octagon or not, Durden is a hard-nosed wrestler who gasses himself out in pursuit of panic takedowns. Defensively, Durden is extremely hittable on the feet, but when there is still gas in the tank – the American is a decent enough striker who can find counters beyond the first layer. If it weren’t for the clear conditioning issues, this could be a very difficult debut for Mokaev to overcome.

Predicted Result: Mokaev Submission Round 2

With all the gum flapping, Mokaev had better be capable of backing up his words. The twenty-one-year-old is slowly growing into his body, evidenced by increased pop to his shots, but there is also strong grappling in the locker. There is a huge dose of recklessness behind Mokaev’s work, however, and it is a surprise that Mokaev is yet to taste defeat in his amateur or pro MMA career. Defensively, Durden is extremely hittable on the feet, but when there is still gas in the tank – the American is a decent enough striker who can find counters beyond the first layer. When tired, however, Durden gasses himself further in pursuit of panic takedowns and can run himself into submissions.

Result: Mokaev def. Durden // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 1 0:58

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

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Prediction Accuracy

UFC London

Winner: 7/12

Method: 4/12

Round: 3/12

2022 MMA Season

Winner: 76/108

Method: 51/108

Round: 47/108

MMA Overall

Winner: 572/900

Method: 414/900

Round: 372/900

Takeaway comments: 9, yes, NINE, Performance of the Night bonuses.


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Pintsized Interests is just a baby finding its first steps in the big, bad world of sports journalism. If you enjoy the content that is regularly uploaded then please consider donating via the link below. Any amount is greatly appreciated, and will go towards ensuring the survival of Pintsized Interests in the long-term.


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