UFC on ESPN 11: MAIN EVENT MADNESS
Alexander Volkov vs. Curtis Blaydes
Main Event Breakdown
By Jason Paglia
Take 3! Tonight we have UFC Vegas 3 to look forward too. This card is better than last week although it’s hard to have done better than the Sports Keg did the previous week. This fight card should be more entertaining than last weekend because the card is way better than UFC Vegas 2 was. Below we take an in-depth look at tonight’s Main Event matchup between Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov.
Alexander Volkov (31-7)
There is not much background info I was able to find on Alexander Volkov. He graduated from a Moscow State Technical School in 2011. That was the extent of his schooling and early life. The story for Volkov kicks off when he turned professional in 2008. That was when he signed a contract with M1-Global.
In April of 2009, Volkov made his pro debut against Nikolay Pleshakov, where he won via TKO in just under 80 seconds. With a quick turnaround of only a month later, Volkov stepped back in the cage against Adam Alikhanov. Not to be outdone the first time around, he followed his first TKO win with another, this time in 20 seconds. Feeling as if he was unbeatable, he quickly found out that he wasn’t. Volkov suffered his first loss only three fights into his career at M1-Challenge #4 when he lost via submission to Akhmed Sultanov. By May 2012, Volkov had fought in some of the biggest promotions he could find overseas, but he was ready for a new challenge in a new place. He ended up signing with the 2nd largest US promotion in Bellator MMA. He debuted at Bellator 75 against Brett Rogers, where he won via unanimous decision. Through 9 fights with the promotion, he won 6 times. Finally, in November of 2016, he signed with the biggest MMA promotion in the world in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Since entering the UFC, Volkow has won five of his first six fights and is now one of the elite heavyweights in the world. Volkov is knocking at the door of a title shot. A couple more quality wins under his belt, and he will get his opportunity.
The BEST of Alexander Volkov
STRIKING –Volkov is a gifted striker for a heavyweight. Whether he fights in the pocket or uses his length to strike from range, he has the accuracy, combinations, and hand speed to give most heavyweights an issue.
SIZE/REACH – Genetics has gifted Alexander Volkov, a built-in advantage in almost every fight he is in. When your 6 foot 7 inches tall and has the reach to boot, you should be able to take advantage of it, and he has.
POWER – Although Volkov couldn’t put Derrick Lewis away in his last fight, He had him hurt multiple times and was close to stopping him a few times. He has 20 knockouts in 30 professional wins. You don’t get that in MMA against heavyweights if you don’t have legitimate power.
The WORST of Alexander Volkov
GRAPPLING – I have not seen enough from Alexander Volkov to know whether he is a legitimate grappler or not. The more we see of him, the more we should see him in situations where he will show us he can or can not grapple
PRESSURE – This is a BALLZY spot that Alexander Volkov has put himself in. He has everything to lose here and not much to gain. He is fighting in his home town with all the pressure that comes with that alone, and now he adds a dangerous and powerful striker to the mix that is an unknown and unranked quantity. A very tough spot he put himself in, and if he gets the job done on Saturday, I will be very impressed.
Curtis Blaydes (13-2)
Born in Naperville, Illinois, Curtis Blaydes grew up in Chicago with his four siblings. Blaydes was an athlete from a young age. He began wrestling and playing football in high school at De La Salle Institute. In his senior year of high school, Blaydes won a state championship in wrestling with a (44-0) senior year. Although wrestling wasn’t the only sport that Curtis played in high school, it was the sport he excelled in the most. Blaydes went on to wrestle in college. Initially, he was granted a full scholarship to wrestle at Northern Illinois University. However, he left the university to wrestle at Harper College, where he won an NJCAA National Championship his sophomore season.
During his junior year, he fell in love with mixed martial arts and left college early to train full-time and pursue a career as a professional mixed martial artist. After amassing an 8-0 amateur record, Curtis Blaydes turned pro in 2014. After fighting on the regional scene for a few fights, he was signed by the UFC with a 5-0 record. In 2016, Blaydes made his UFC debut against super freak Francis Ngannou. He would lose his debut via 2nd round knockout. Since joining the UFC, Curtis Blaydes has fought ten times. During his 11 fight UFC career, he has gone (8-2-1), losing to only one man…twice. On Saturday, Blaydes will walk to the cage ranked the #3 heavyweight fighter in the world.
The BEST of Curtis Blaydes
WRESTLING – Blaydes was a junior national champion in college; he has a great base and excellent top control. If you are under him, on the mat, that is the place you do NOT want to be during a fight in the cage.
STRENGTH – At the heart of it all, Blaydes’ MMA game is based on the strength advantage he normally has on his opponents. His takedowns and top control usually pave the way to his success in the Octagon.
GROUND ‘n POUND – All of Curtis Blaydes’ pros in the octagon are based on his ability to take you down and keep you there. Thus the reason why his ground n pound is so dangerous, he rarely lets his opponents up, and it’s even harder to get up when he is raining devastating heavyweight punches down on you looking for a finish.
The WORST of Curtis Blaydes
STRIKING DEFENSE – Blaydes has been known to keep himself open at times against skilled technical boxers, which could be an issue when fighting someone as technically skilled as Dos Santos.
STAMINA – For the most part, Curtis Blaydes’ cardio has held up ok considering the extra weight he carries at heavyweight. However, he has been known to gas out occasionally when he has big problems getting his opponents to the ground. He has tired himself before when he has failed to secure early takedowns in fights.
WHO WIN THIS FIGHT?
In the end, I think that Curtis Blaydes’s wrestling will be to tough a task for Alexander Volkov to deal with. In fairness to Volkov, he has been impressive since joining the UFC, very impressive. His only loss in the octagon came in a fight he dominated for 14 minutes and 40 seconds until Derrick Lewis caught him in a last-ditch effort. In that stretch, Volkov has beat a former champ in Werdum, so his striking ability and gas tank gives him a path to victory.
This line is a couple of dollars off, in my opinion. I like the fight around Blaydes (-270). He is currently (-430), and that is excessive. However, I don’t think he loses. Volkov has an issue with wrestlers, and there is not a better wrestler in the division than Blaydes. Blaydes is also sneaky good on the fight, so I think it’s his fight to lose.
The question becomes, how do we bet him. I think that Bobby Green should destroy Clay Guida earlier in the card. Guida has CTE at this point, and someone should take the gloves from him. Green should get the job done efficiently. I’m willing to throw them together and catch the low price on the parlay at (-125). Regardless, good luck with your bets.
PARLAY – Curtis Blaydes & Bobby Green (-125)