Top-ranked Heavyweight contenders Alexander Volkov (No. 5) and Marcin Tybura (No. 8) collided this afternoon (Sat., Oct. 30, 2021) inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on the ESPN+-streamed main card of UFC 267. Volkov was looking to rebound from a lackluster decision loss to Ciryl Gane, while Tybura was riding a five-fight win streak into the meaningful match up.
Indeed, both fighters appeared to be heading in different directions, but when the dust settled in Abu Dhabi, Volkov flipped the script, earning a hard-fought unanimous decision win.
Tybura kicked off the action with a nice one-two combination upstairs, while Volkov responded with a pair of hard jabs to keep the Polish fighter at bay. Tybura continued to march forward, head-long into hard strikes, to try and close the gap. Volkov landed a nice overhand right then a front kick as Tybura dove in for a takedown that didn’t materialize. Tybura continued with the wrestling up against the cage, but Volkov was able to remain upright and punch himself off the fence. Volkov landed another nice combination as Tybura tried to figure out how to get inside. He went for another takedown, but Volkov used his size and was able to reverse the position with his leverage. Volkov landed a few short shots to the belly on the ground, while Tybura clung to him so he could not punch him in the face. Volkov was able to break free and land some nice ground-and-pound at the bell.
Tybura came out for the second round moving forward, eating some more shots, but landing a nice overhand right early. Two nice left hooks from Tybura, but he ate a huge knee along the fence that didn’t seem to buzz him much if at all. Volkov appeared a little fatigued from Tybura’s pressure, continuing to fight off the relentless takedown attempts along the fence. Tybura finally got in with a high crotch, but once again he could not complete it. Tybura continued to push the pace, with Volkov countering and pot-shotting throughout. Tybura began to find a home for a looping left hand, switching stances and barreling head first into danger. Tybura got in deep on another takedown attempt toward the end of the round, but it was stuffed for the tenth time.
Volkov opened up the third and final round with a kick, but Tybura continued to march forward. Knee to the body from Volkov, with a left hook counter from Tybura. Less than one minute into the round, Tybura once again mushed him up against the fence, seemingly looking for another takedown attempt. Volkov smacked him with a hard hook for his effort, followed by a nice short uppercut moments later. Tybura landed a nice short left hook, then closed the distance to get back into the clinch. Tybura went for a trip, but Volkov slipped to his back and then started to open up with shots upstairs. Nice overhand left from Tybura, then a right hand along the fence landed as well. With one minute remaining, Tybura tried the takedown again, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. Tybura scored with an overhaand right late, then an uppercut as the action came to a close.
The bout was billed as a “title eliminator of sorts,” but it will more than likely take at least one more big win for Volkov to enter that conversation.
Curtis Blaydes rematch, perhaps?
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