Alexander Volkov was on the cusp of ascending to the heavyweight elite for several decades. He has been missing just that one big, touch finish.
He even got it Saturday night.
Volkov took out legend Alistair Overeem via TKO at 2 minutes, 6 seconds of the next round in the Primary event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. After bloodying Overeem with tough combinations, Volkov landed a walk-off left hook that floored Overeem to get good.
The success was one-sided and perhaps Volkov’s best performance in the UFC, and it should elevate him into the top echelon of the heavyweight division. ESPN had Overeem ranked No. 6 in the world at heavyweight with Volkov directly below him No. 7.
Overeem had success in the first with different hard overhand lefts. However, waiting to counter Volkov was a miscue. Volkov came ahead landing tough, straight punching mixtures with Overeem shelling upwards along the cage. Though Overeem was obstructing, Volkov’s shots were challenging and becoming. Overeem was cut late in the first circular.
At the second round, Volkov pushed Overeem contrary to the cage and landed hard jab-cross mixes. The technique was simple but very effective. Volkov’s heavy hands bloodied Overeem even more.
When the two split, Overeem’s face was almost entirely red. Volkov subsequently landed a totally positioned left hook to send Overeem into the canvas.
“I felt just like I can finish him in the second or third round,” Volkov said. “I watched his face. He had a good deal of blood and cuts on his face. I had been waiting for a good punch. I did it”
The bout was held in front of no lovers with COVID-19 protocols in place in the UFC Apex, a place across the road in the UFC’s corporate campus. It was the first UFC event of the year in the USA after the initial three happened in Abu Dhabi.
Volkov (33-8) has won nine of the previous 11 struggles. He was coming off a second-round TKO over Walt Harris in October and is on a two-fight winning series.
Volkov, 32, is the former M-1 Global heavyweight champion and has been a perennial contender in the UFC.
Overeem (47-19, 1 NC) had won two straight and four of his previous five coming in, hoping to get one last run in the UFC heavyweight title. The striker is one of the most accomplished fighters in MMA heavyweight history. He is a former Strikeforce and Fantasy heavyweight champion and one of just two fighters to win titles in MMA and K-1 kickboxing.