Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contenders Fabricio Werdum and Alexander Volkov clashed last night (March 17, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 127 inside the 02 Arena in London, England.
16 years deep into his professional career at the age of 40, Werdum is one of his division’s best and most active combatants. “Vai Cavalo” was in the title hunt and needed at least one more victory, as Werdum was looking to regain the belt he lost back in 2016.
A former Bellator and M-1 kingpin, Volkov put together a trio of wins in his first three UFC appearances. Werdum still represented a major step up in competition for the Russian, but it was also an opportunity for “Drago” to earn a title shot.
After showing a running jump kick to start the bout, Werdum changed levels into a single leg and finished the shot. From within the guard, Werdum postured and dropped small shots, patiently waiting for an opportunity to cut through the guard.
Volkov did an admirable job of defending himself from his back. He ate quite a few shots from within the guard, but Volkov was able to use a De la Riva sweep to escape to his feet. He immediately let loose with a big flurry, but Werdum planted him back on the mat a moment later.
It was a strong start from the Brazilian.
Werdum opened the second round with some kicks, but this time Volkov was able to defend the first takedown attempt. However, getting out-wrestled in the first seemed to have the Russian tentative, as he did little with the opening three minutes of the round, which was largely contested in the open.
“Vai Cavalo” landed another single leg takedown into the guard with two minutes remaining. Volkov did little but hold on from his back, which allowed Werdum to potshot with small strikes but slowed his advance. In the final seconds of the round, Werdum advanced into half guard and threatened with a kimura, but he ultimately ran out of time.
After receiving a cut below the eye, Werdum pulled guard into a deep half and swept his opponent to start the third. Volkov was able to stand when Werdum attempted to take his back, and the two returned to the center.
With 90 seconds remaining, Werdum was again able to pull deep half guard, and this time he swept his foe into the back mount. Once more, however, Werdum was a bit too aggressive, and Volkov was able to escape when Werdum attempted an armbar. Back on the feet, the fighters continued to exchange at a slow rate, with Volkov getting the better of the exchanges.
Once more, Werdum pulled guard in the fourth in an attempt to land a deep half guard sweep. It didn’t work out this time, as Volkov denied the sweep, punched his foe, and returned to his feet.
When Werdum got back up, he came forward swinging. Volkov avoided the blows and fired back immediately, sending Werdum to the mat. A few follow up shots ended the bout, and Volkov completed his come-from-behind victory in a big way.
The momentum shifted to Volkov’s side in the third round, but the finish still materialized surprisingly fast. The damage on Werdum’s face was obvious, and yet it was still surprising how efficiently “Drago” ended the bout.
Volkov fought very patiently. When taken down, he stalled his opponent until the opening to escape made itself available, which did cost him a couple rounds. However, Volkov had the full 25 with which to work, and he made the most of it. Once Werdum was tired, Volkov countered with heavy shots and forced him to expend energy.
Heavyweight has a new contender.
As for Werdum, he simply looked flat in this fight. Is that the natural result of being a 40-year-old combat sports athlete? Did Werdum take Volkov lightly, as he’s been known to do in the past? It’s hard to say, but Werdum definitely looked a bit softer than usual and never appeared all that explosive.
Either way, this seems like the end of Werdum’s time in title contention. He’s now 2-2 in his last four bouts with a defeat to the current champion, and losing to a young contender is especially difficult to recover from.
This is a bit out of left field, but perhaps the timing has never been better for Luke Rockhold vs. Fabricio Werdum.
Last night, Alexander Volkov rose into the top five with a fourth-round knockout win. Who should ‘Drago’ face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 127 “Werdum vs. Volkov” results and play-by-play, click HERE!