Courtesy: CBS Sports

UFC Fight Night Recap: Blaydes vs Volkov


Well folks, it was another Saturday night, and another UFC Fight Night Card took place from the UFC Apex Center in Las Vegas, NV as the promotion continues to provide fans with fights to enjoy week in and week out.


The big boys headlined the card as Heavyweights Curtis Blades and Alexander Volkov battled it out over five rounds. The 3rd ranked fighter in the division, Blaydes (14-2 10 KO’s) earned himself a decision victory as he stuck to his words spoken during the week. He talked a big game and said he was gonna rag doll his opponent.

UFC Fight Night Recap: Blaydes vs Volkov
Photo Credit: Bloody Elbow

We may not see many heavyweight bouts go the full distance in a main event, but these two showed that if push comes to shove and they have to go the extra 10 minutes, they are more than capable of doing so.

Going into the night’s bout, Blaydes was in an interesting situation. As it stands, the champion, Stipe Miocic (19-3 15 KO’s), is set to do battle in a trilogy bout against the former two-division champion, Daniel Cormier (22-2 10 KO’s), on August 15th. The number one contender in the division, Francis Ngannou (15-3 11 KO’s), is waiting to face the winner.

While an elimination bout between Ngannou and Blaydes would seem ideal, Ngannou already owns two wins over Blaydes so a third bout isn’t going to happen unless a title is on the line. So the one they call “Razor” (Blaydes) can sit back, see how a couple of fights play out, and stay ready in case anyone falls out of a scheduled bout where he can step in as a replacement.

He was able to put himself in this position through an excellent performance Saturday night against Volkov (31-8 20 KO’s). The game plan was simple. Blaydes is a former Junior College Wrestling Champion. Volkov has a kickboxing background. This was the classic grappler vs striker matchup. Through the match, Blaydes was able to set some records himself with his performance as he extended his already UFC Heavyweight record of takedowns to 59 total and nailed 14 for the bout, which is another record in the promotions division.

Ten seconds into the first round, Blaydes nailed a double leg takedown. He maintained control for the remainder of the round, not allowing Volkov room to do anything except play defense and attempt to get up with Blaydes riding him, working on emptying that gas tank.

At the start of the second round, the two actually stood toe to toe for a few exchanges. Both would land, but given the threat of the takedown, Blaydes found himself landing more often as Volkov was wondering when the shoot was coming. There wasn’t a round where Blaydes didn’t land any takedowns.

He showed his improvement in his stand up game, but the game plan was always to keep it close, secure one, if not both legs, and take the Russian for a ride, mixing it up with a variety of takedown attempts ranging from double-leg, single-leg, and clinch sweeps. As they were tied up, Blaydes would wrap up the hips and drag his foe back down to the mat. At overturn, he would attempt to return the match to its feet.

Now to his credit, Volkov knows that given his striking background, nearly every opponent he faces will look to grapple and take him out of his natural element, so he has worked on and improved his takedown defense. Still, there are levels to this, and he’s just not close to where Blaydes is at grappling-wise.


UFC Fight Night Recap: Blaydes vs Volkov
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Blaydes did admit in the post-fight interview that Volkov was a lot harder to take down then he anticipated. So even though he was taken down a record number of times, he didn’t go down without a fight. This caused Blaydes to seemingly run low on steam halfway through the fourth round. At one point, Volkov timed a kick right when Blaydes was shooting in for a takedown, and the kick landed right on the button. Normally when this happens, the momentum of the fight swings in favor of the other fighter, and it starts the beginning of the end.

But the determination and pure will of Blaydes wouldn’t be denied as he powered through and landed a hard takedown. They scrambled and Volkov actually ended the round in top position looking as if he might pull off a dramatic comeback over a gassed opponent who dominated the majority of the bout.

Nonetheless, Blaydes nailed a couple of takedowns in the final round and earned the victory. Now, as he waits to see what’s next, the division has a new grappling menace on its hands in the form of the 29-year-old from Chicago. As for Volkov, he’s now 1-2 in his last three bouts so he will probably fight someone outside the top 12 in the division to see if he can get back in the win column.


In the night’s co-main event, we were treated to a possible Fight of the Year candidate when Josh Emmitt (16-2 6 KO’s) and Shane Burgos (13-2 5 KO’s) went to war for three rounds.


A back and forth affair took place between these two warriors as neither one back down from the other. The veteran, Emmit (35), was looking to show the young lion, Burgos (29), that his time is coming but not in this fight. This was a war, but not your typical, slobber knocker with fists flying without caution. These two showed how a battle could be fought while staying under control, picking spots, throwing combinations, and maintaining a constant, nonstop pace.

UFC Fight Night Recap: Blaydes vs Volkov
Photo Credit: Bloody Elbow

Although Burgos was the one applying the majority of the pressure by pushing forward behind a stiff jab, calf, and front kicks, Emmitt kept his composure by countering with a right that found constant real-estate on the face of his opponent. He constantly moved so as to never allow Burgos to trap in against the fence and put him in a bad position. On two different occasions, Emmitt dropped Burgos but–credit to the younger fighter–he recovered in time before more damage could be dealt.

Each time one fighter looked as though he would start to pull away, the other would start making a run of his own, halting the momentum from shifting soles to one or the other.

After 15 minutes of battle, Emmitt was awarded the decision victory. It was later revealed that he feared he may have torn his ACL in the first round. Just think, on a torn ACL for over two rounds of high-level MMA, he was able to turn in a fight that earned both warriors a Performance of the Night bonus. The injured knee might explain why Emmitt was trying to stay on the outside and not engage in any grappling transactions–that and the fact that Burgos has five submission victories in his career.

Nevertheless, these two put on a hell of a show and indeed demonstrated that they are two names to watch for within the promotion’s featherweight division.


Other quick notes from the rest of the card:


UFC Fight Night Recap: Blaydes vs Volkov
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Both Raquel Pennington (11-8) and Tecia Torres (10-5), earned victories, making them the first couple to do so on the same card.

Making his UFC record-tying, 35th walk to the OctagonJim Miller (32-14 18 subs) earned a first-round win via armbar. The future Hall of Famer showed that while he may not get a title shot, he is still a mainstay in the sports Lightweight division and still has some tread left on his tires.

Lastly, Bobby Green (25-10 8 KO’s) bested Clay Guida (35-20 13 subs) in the main event of the night’s prelim card.


Once again, the UFC  gives a weekend to enjoy, and the good times will continue to roll as they return to the Apex center next week for yet another fight card. While we may be missing our team sports, combat sports are here to fill the void. Be sure to check next week for more MMA articles and news on Franchise Sports Media.


Till next week, folks…

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

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