Fox Sports Asia analyses the main event from UFC in London at the weekend.
I almost never get excited to watch heavyweights because I think they get tired too easily and have sloppy technique, but I was excited for this fight because of the stylistic matchup between the two fighters.
Both men were smiling at each other across the cage when the bell rang and the former champ Fabricio Werdum took off, throwing a flying knee but missing, leaving a confused looking Alexander Volkov circling away.
As soon as Werdum landed, Volkov started to close the distance and got taken down. Werdum started with some good ground and pound – landing some vicious elbows that Volkov did a good job of defending.
Eventually Volkov was able to scramble to his feet, looking tired but landing a few decent shots, before Werdum took him down again, ending the round with more ground and pound.
The second round started with both men looking tired as they circled each other. They began some trash talk, but it seemed all for fun as they were both smiling throughout.
Volkov was able to defend a takedown attempt by Werdum and I begun to feel as though maybe the tide was turning in the fight. Volkov caught another kick and punished Werdum with a few leg kicks before he lifted Werdum’s foot above his head and sent his opponent crashing to the floor.
Then, and I got a huge kick out of this, Volkov turned his back to Werdum and motioned for him to stand up. Despite the playful trash talk, Werdum was able to secure another takedown and land some more vicious ground and pound, this time opening up a cut on Volkov’s forehead.
The round ended with Werdum in half guard working for a kimura. However, after the bell Werdum stood up and helped Volkov up which showed their excellent sportsmanship and made their banter and antics in the cage that much more enjoyable.
— UFC (@ufc) March 17, 2018
Round three started with a flying kick attempt from Werdum and another takedown attempt.
Before Werdum could get inside, Volkov connected with a few good shots and opened up a cut underneath Werdum’s right eye which had a good amount of swelling already. There was a bit of a scramble and Volkov stood back up. The 40-year-old Werdum looked more gassed as both fighters stood up.
The banter continued after another Volkov takedown. Both fighters looked increasingly tired now, but Volkov seemingly in a happier place, standing up and landing shots at the end of his reach.
Werdum went for another takedown that got stuffed, but used an excellent deep half-guard series to take Volkov’s back for a short time. The round ended with Volkov catching kicks and table topping Werdum twice in a row which had me laughing out loud.
Round four started with Werdum’s right eye almost completely swollen shut and another cut opened over his left eye. Volkov looked the same with blood leaking from his forehead, but no other visible damage.
Werdum was visibly tired now, leaning on his back leg and allowing Volkov to open up a bit more. Werdum went for one last takedown attempt, but Volkov stuffed it and followed with some lacklustre ground and pound before bringing the fight back to the feet.
Volkov entered into another exchange with Werdum, eventually knocking him out with a series of punches.
— UFC (@ufc) March 17, 2018
The showmanship of this fight was not nasty, it was simply entertaining.
Both men put on a great show, playfully talking smack throughout the fight. At first I thought Volkov was in some trouble, as Werdum easily took him down and inflicted some vicious ground and pound.
However, when I saw how gassed both fighters looked at the end of the first round I had my doubts. As the fight wore on, Volkov slowly increased his pace while Werdum wore himself down.
By the fourth round Werdum was gassed and I could see it. The feeling of being gassed in a fight and having nothing left but needing to continue is never a good thing. Especially when your opponent has plenty more in his tank.
Volkov did a great job in this fight defending when he needed too and not pushing the pace. Instead he let Werdum tire himself out and then took advantage at the right moment.
Excellent fight IQ, great sportsmanship, a good show and of course the spotlight is now shining on this gigantic man as he rises through the ranks of the UFC – congrats Alexander Volkov.
Tommy “WildCard” Hayden is a former UFC fighter and Head MMA Coach at Elite Fight Club, Bangkok.