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UFC 229 card: Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov full fight preview

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MMA: UFC 226-Ngannou vs Lewis Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov will scrap this Saturday (Oct. 6, 2018) at UFC 229 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Derrick Lewis such a successful fighter — “The Black Beast” has swanged-and-banged his way to the No. 2 position in the rankings — but it’s generally been a lot of fun to watch. Plus, winning eight of nine fights at Heavyweight is a seriously difficult task. Volkov’s current four-fight win streak has been incredibly impressive, capped off by a destructive victory over Fabricio Werdum. The Russian has been steadily living up to his potential as of late, closing in on a potential title shot.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Derrick Lewis
Record: 20-5-1
Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Travis Browne (UFC Fight Night 105), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 102)
Key Losses: Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 110), Shawn Jordan (UFC Fight Night 68), Matt Mitrione (UFC Fight Night 50)
Keys to Victory: Lewis is not the most diverse fighter, but the results cannot be denied. He breaks down pretty simple: Lewis throws explosive kicks at range, sometimes walks forward with massive power punches, and is downright brutal if able to gain top position.

Of those three avenues to victory, the takedown seems best for Lewis. Volkov throws a lot of kicks to maintain range, and catching kicks is likely Lewis’ favorite way to gain top position. Unlike Werdum, Lewis is not hunting for submissions or controlling position: He weighs so heavily on foes that they cannot move ... and then he obliterates them. In truth, Volkov is somewhat hittable and not particularly difficult to take down. Generally, he relies on conditioning and toughness to outlast his opponent and minimize those defensive liabilities.

That seems a terrible plan against potentially the hardest hitting man on the roster.

Alexander Volkov
Record: 30-6
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 229), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 115), Blagoy Ivanov (Bellator 120), Tim Johnson (UFC Fight Night 99)
Keys Losses: Vitaly Minakov (Bellator 108), Cheick Kongo (Bellator 139), Tony Johnson (Bellator 136)
Keys to Victory: Volkov is among the best conditioned men at Heavyweight, a rangy kickboxer who breaks down opponentswith constant kicks to the legs and body. With 20 wins coming via knockout, Volkov also carries a fair amount of pop in his hands despite his high-volume approach.

Volkov has little room for error here: he cannot afford to be dumped on his back or bombed on along the fence. Luckily, he does hold an absolutely massive advantage at range with his kicks, and that’s something Lewis has struggled opposite in the past. Most notably, Travis Browne only need a couple kicks to the belly to have Lewis covering up along the fence, clutching his gut and waiting for the pain to subside.

Volkov has the kicking prowess and range to make Lewis’ life miserable in similar fashion. In that bout, however, a combination of fatigue and sloppiness from Browne allowed Lewis to start landing and fight back into the fight. Volkov has no problems maintaining his attack and generally does a better job of not leading with his face, so he should be able to avoid repeating “Hapa’s” mistakes.

Bottom Line: It’s a violent potential title eliminator.

There is a major X-factor when predicting the Heavyweight title picture, and his name is Brock Lesnar. If Lesnar is cleared and signed, he’ll probably fight Daniel Cormier for the belt. If not — and there are plenty reasons that wouldn’t happen — the winner of this bout is likely the most deserving of a title shot. Stipe Miocic and Curtis Blaydes won’t like that, but they can always fight each other about it. Seeing as a potential title shot is on the line, the stakes are definitely high. There’s certainly not an abundance of contenders at Heavyweight, but with Lesnar and Jon Jones potentially delaying things for the current crop of challengers, this is not the time for a setback.

At UFC 229, Derrick Lewis and Alexander Volkov will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?