Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 127 as top ten heavyweights clash. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum takes on former Bellator Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov in a matchup between current top ten heavyweights.
Fight odds are courtesy of BetDSI.
Alexander Volkov (Record: 29-6, +158 Underdog, Power Ranking: C+)
The Moscow born heavyweight enters the biggest fight of his MMA career on a five fight winning streak. Since entering the UFC in 2016, he’s won three fights in a row and would surge to title contention with a victory over Werdum.
The 10-year MMA pro got his start in the sport with the successful Russian based promotion, M1. He eventually moved stateside to Bellator, winning that promotion’s heavyweight tournament, before the move over to the UFC. Volkov is one of the biggest heavyweight’s in MMA. At 6’7” tall and an 81 inch reach, Volkov is an imposing opponent for most fighters. He’s got good technical skills on the feet and does a really good job of fighting at his preferred reach. Volkov uses his size well to land punches and kicks from the outside. Once he starts landing with success, he does nicely to work in combination and increase his volume. For a heavyweight, he has excellent output at 5.28 significant strikes landed per minute. Defensively, it’s imperative for him to maintain distance. Opponents that are able to work inside have tremendous success and are able to slow down Volkov. Power is not Volkov’s game. He’s not a fighter who is going to see a lot of quick finishes. He needs time to put opponents away and that is not always possible in a division like heavyweight. Volkov’s defensive wrestling has improved with 75% takedown defense. On the mat, he doesn’t have much to offer opponents, so it’s imperative for him to keep his bouts as a prolonged striking exchange.
Fabricio Werdum (Record: 23-7, -188 Favorite, Power Ranking: B+)
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion enters Saturday’s fight off a five round victory over Marcin Tybura. Werdum has won back to back fights and could earn himself a title shot with a victory in this main event.
One of the most improved strikers in MMA over the past couple years, Fabricio Werdum has done a lot of work with renowned striking coach Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA and those results have proven out with him winning the heavyweight title back in 2014. Werdum has worked in a volume style approach, but has also done a great job of working in strikes to the body to wear down his opponents. Like fellow heavyweight Alistair Overeem, Werdum has made a concerted effort as he’s aged to be more conservative defensively as his chin has become a larger liability. Overall, he’s only absorbed 2.43 significant strikes a minute; a very low number compared to his heavyweight contemporaries. Werdum combines his improved striking prowess with the best jiu jitsu skill set in the history of the heavyweight division. He’s a two time ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion and he has shown that in the cage with nearly half of his 23 wins coming by submission.
An important heavyweight fight headlines UFC Fight Night 127 as Alexander Volkov and Fabricio Werdum clash. This is a huge opportunity for Volkov as he looks to join the heavyweight elite with a win over the former UFC champion. Meanwhile, Werdum is closing in on an opportunity to win back his heavyweight title, but he needs to get through Volkov first. This has the potential to be a tricky fight for the Brazilian as he’ll have to deal with the length and size of his Russian opponent. Neither fighter has tremendous punching power, so I see this bout coming down to tactics. Volkov will look to maintain distance and land from the outside, while Werdum will seek to close that distance and potentially work the fight to the mat. Werdum has made strides of his own in the striking game, but Volkov’s volume gives the Russian the advantage on the feet. Werdum knows the dangers of this fight and I expect him to make it a priority to get Volkov to the mat. One takedown should completely change the complexion of the bout. Werdum’s has a tremendous advantage on the mat and look for him to secure a submission once given a little bit of time to work on the mat. The longer this fight stays standing, the more Volkov’s opportunity to win this bout increases. However, Werdum is just too crafty and will be able to get Volkov to the mat to prevent the upset from happening.