Two heavyweight fighters with title aspirations will throw down in the octagon this Saturday in London in the main event of UFC Fight Night 127. Fabricio Werdum and Alexander Volkov both believe a finish will put them in line for a title shot. The contrasting styles of Werdum, a world class grappler and Volkov, a deadly striker, will clash in this matchup.
Fabricio Werdum: The path back to gold
40-year-old Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1) is no stranger to big fights in the UFC. He became the second man in history to defeat Cain Velasquez, winning the UFC Heavyweight title by third round guillotine. This unified his interim belt that he won by knocking out Mark Hunt with a flying knee. If Werdum can finish Volkov in convincing fashion, he might get another shot at the belt. Stipe Miocic took the belt from him at UFC 198 with a first round knockout, but Werdum is close to getting a shot at revenge. He is the third ranked heavyweight, behind only Francis Ngannou and Alistair Overeem, both of whom are coming off losses.
Fabricio Werdum is one of the most dangerous fighters in any division when the fight goes to the ground. He is a two-time IBJJ World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in the heavyweight black belt division. It is safe to say that if Werdum gets the purple belt, Volkov, to the mat, the Russian is in big trouble. 11 of Werdum’s wins came by submission, but with six knockout victories, he is no slouch on the feet either. In his last fight, a five-round decision win over Marcin Tybura, Werdum could not get a submission but showcased solid boxing for all five rounds.
Alexander Volkov: A devastating striker
Alexander “Drago” Volkov (29-6) is the former Bellator and M-1 champion, is making a ruin for a belt with a third promotion. The 29-year-old Russian is one of the most dangerous strikers in the heavyweight division and has 19 knockouts on his record. His last fight came by third-round TKO of Stefan Struve. That bumped Volkov to 3-0 in the UFC. A win over Werdum would surely rocket him toward the top contender spot in a division where the top contenders have been taking each other out in recent years.
The obvious strategy for Alexander Volkov is to keep his fight on the feet. He has been submitted twice in his career but they both came before 2011. Volkov has only been knocked out once and will have a significant reach advantage on Werdum. Although he is just a purple belt, Volkov has three submission victories on his record and will not be easy to get out on the ground. If Volkov can turn this into a boxing match, he will become the favorite. We last saw Volkov piece up the 6 foot 11 inch Struve on the feet. He got inside the reach of Struve and found his chin over and over. WIth a three-inch height advantage on Werdum, Volkov will be able to strike from a distance before getting out of range of takedowns.
Fabricio Werdum is a jiu-jitsu master and will look to use his grinding style to drag this fight into the later rounds. If this fight makes it the championship rounds, his chances to win skyrocket. His boxing ability is solid, but his knockout loss to Stipe Miocic comes to mind. Miocic hit him on the chin while moving backwards as Werdum rushed. Werdum will obviously shoot often so if the lengthy Volkov can get catch Werdum on the way in as he shoots for a takedown, the fight could come to a sudden stop.
If Alexander Volkov wants to take the win, he needs to get it done as soon as possible. He has good takedown defense, but keeping Werdum off of him for five rounds to win a decision is too tall of a task. Volkov will need to start off at a furious pace and show some of that relentless boxing he did in his win over Struve.
Volkov by TKO
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