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UFC Fight Night 163 card: Alexander Volkov vs Greg Hardy full fight preview

UFC 229: Lewis v Volkov Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Alexander Volkov and Greg Hardy will collide this Saturday (Nov. 9, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 163 from inside CSKA Arena in Moscow, Russia.

Fortunes change quickly in mixed martial arts (MMA), particularly in the Heavyweight division. Fresh off four-straight UFC wins and perhaps 15 seconds from a fifth — a potential victory which promised a title shot — a single poorly timed step knee from Volkov saw him absorb a massive overhand from Derrick Lewis (watch it). It’s been more than one year since that major setback, and now Volkov has a considerable road ahead of him to get back in position to earn a title shot. Meanwhile, Hardy simply cannot escape controversy, but at least illegally using an inhaler is progress from his issues before UFC. At the same time, the second most common knock against “Prince of War” has been his level of competition, but that complaint fell apart the moment Hardy agreed to throw hands with “Drago.”

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

Alexander Volkov

Record: 30-7
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 229), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 115), Blagoy Ivanov (Bellator 120), Tim Johnson (UFC Fight Night 99)
Keys Losses: Derrick Lewis (UFC 229), Vitaly Minakov (Bellator 108), Cheick Kongo (Bellator 139)
Keys to Victory: Volkov is really the fighter many fans hoped Stefan Struve would develop into. The Russian kickboxer hits hard, makes good use of combinations, and can do real work with rangy strikes like the jab and snap kick. Though his last-second loss to Lewis implies otherwise, Volkov actually maintains a pace rather well for a big man.

Volkov is the much better technical striker in this match up, and previously, Hardy has only displayed defensive wrestling. As such, it should be a kickboxing match — one Volkov is primed to dominate.

Still, Hardy punches pretty damn hard, and he does have the reach to match the lanky Russian. For that reason, it’s important that Volkov is careful and smart early. If he bends his knees a touch more than normal and works to establish the jab/long kicks, he should be able to establish his range and avoid any early onslaught.

As the fight wears on, Volkov’s technical advantage and experience should see him pull away with the victory.

Greg Hardy

Record: 5-1 (1)
Key Wins: Juan Adams (UFC on ESPN 4), Dmitry Smolyakov (UFC Fight Night 150), Austen Lane (DWTNCS 2018)
Key Losses: Allen Crowder (UFC on ESPN+ 1)
Keys to Victory: Despite all the inhaler nonsense and the generally low level of action, Hardy’s performance opposite Ben Sosoli actually did show a good bit of improvement. Hardy made better use of his physical attributes — namely, his huge reach — and showed the toolkit of a developing Southpaw, using his left kick to tenderize the leg and touching the shorter man with plenty of crosses.

It was good work, but for this match up, it’s time to throw all that back out the window.

Hardy will not win a technical kickboxing match with Volkov. How long has Greg Hardy been training kickboxing? Just about three years if Wikipedia is to be believed. Meanwhile, Volkov is in his tenth year as a professional, has nearly 40 professional fights, and is ranked in multiple forms of Karate.

No, trying to be a rangy kickboxer against an actual rangy kickboxer is a truly bad idea. If Hardy is to win this fight, he has to score a knockout in the opening few minutes. Walk forward, bite down on the mouth piece, and throw hard. His odds still are not great, but trying to destroy Volkov with power shots early at least gives him a real chance at victory.

Bottom Line: It’s not a fight that makes a ton of sense, but as a replacement match up, it’s still rather interesting.

The stakes are undoubtedly high for both men, though for opposite reasons. Given Volkov’s high-ranking, loss to Lewis, and layoff, he’s really in a must-win position. A loss to an unranked, short-notice opponent in Hardy would be devastating and completely remove him from the title mix. While defeating “The Prince of War” will not do nearly as much for Volkov’s career as dispatching Junior dos Santos would have, victory would at least return Volkov to the win column.

Plus, people really do not like Greg Hardy, so some public goodwill is always nice.

As for Hardy, this is such an incredibly huge step up in competition that a win would instantly change his position in the division. At the moment, Hardy is viewed as a prospect or sideshow, depending on how generous one is feeling. A win here against the seventh-ranked contender would force even Hardy’s harshest critics to recognize his fighting talent, and it would set him up for more high-profile match ups in the future.

In the more likely scenario that Hardy is beaten up, it’s hardly the end of the world. Hardy haters will have a fun day at his expense, but Hardy will simply resume his previous schedule opposite lower-caliber Heavyweights.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 163 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 163: “Zabit vs. Kattar” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC Fight Night 163, Alexander Volkov and Greg Hardy will go to war. Which Heavyweight will remain standing when the dust settles?

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