Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will look to separate contender from pretender when heavyweight hurters Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov go to war for the right to stay alive in the 265-pound title chase. The action takes place atop the UFC Vegas 30 mixed martial arts (MMA) event this Sat. night (June 26, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Prior to that exchange of heavy leather, fellow 265-pound bruisers Tanner Boser and Ovince Saint Preux will hook ‘em up for a spot in the division Top 10. Both “The Bulldozer” and “OSP” — who is bumping up from 205 — are looking to bounce back from recent losses. You can argue that it’s “win or go home” for both fighters, based on their recent struggles.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, head over to the UFC Vegas 30 preliminary card breakdown expertly deconstructed by effervescent analyst Patrick Stumberg here and here. Resident MMA champ Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 30 main card right here.
For the latest “Gane vs. Volkov” odds and betting lines be sure to check out the updated numbers right here.
Let’s break it down ...
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Alexander Volkov
Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane
Record: 8-0 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -175
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 81” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.04 | Striking accuracy: 55%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.85 | Striking Defense: 69%
Takedown Average: 1.13 (26% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Alexander “Drago” Volkov
Record: 33-8 | Age: 32 | Betting line: +145
Wins: 22 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 8 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 6’7“ | Reach: 80” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.88 | Striking accuracy: 59%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.48 | Striking Defense: 56%
Takedown Average: 0.66 (70% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 66%
Current Ranking: No. 5 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Alistair Overeem
Ciryl Gane has slowly but surely positioned himself as a legitimate threat to the heavyweight throne, racking up five straight victories since crossing over from the regional circuit with three finishes. I don’t think anyone is popping the bubbly for a knockout win over the shopworn Junior dos Santos — who’s since been released from the promotion — but when is the last time you've seen a heavyweight score a heel hook submission? That’s what makes “Bon Gamin” (“Good Kid” in French) so dangerous. He’s a legitimate threat wherever the fight goes but at the same time, hasn’t had the level of opposition to prove he’s ready for a title shot. I don’t want to take anything away from his victory over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, but let’s be honest, did we learn anything about Gane from that snoozefest? I’m not sure a victory over Alexander Volkov will seal the deal either, since both Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic are ahead of him, but a title shot is probably within striking distance, and there is a little bit of history between Gane and current champion Francis Ngannou.
Volkov is ranked No. 5 in the division but his record inside the Octagon — 7-2 since finishing up his duties with M-1 — does not hold up under scrutiny. Five of those wins have come over opponents who are no longer competing for UFC. In addition, Walt Harris has been stopped in three straight fights and Greg Hardy is a mediocre 4-3 inside the cage. Putting that aside, Volkov is a talented striker who boxed up “The Prince of War” and was cruising to a decision victory over Derrick Lewis before swallowing a Hail Mary at the end of round three. I don’t think “Drago” will be in danger of getting knocked out against Gane even in a five-round affair. That doesn’t mean he can just hang in the pocket all day and work from a safe zone, as Gane has a longer reach and some of the best striking defense in the division at 69 percent.
I expect a considerable feeling-out process on the feet but I do think the key to victory for Gane will be the wrestling. Curtis Blaydes scored 14 takedowns against Volkov when they went to war back in June 2020 and while “Bon Gamin” does not have the collegiate background that “Razor” does, the long legs of Volkov should do most of the work for him. It may not be pretty, but winning ugly is still winning and when you get this close to the title, paying it safe is also playing it smart.
Prediction: Gane def. Volkov by unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Tanner Boser vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Tanner “The Bulldozer” Boser
Record: 19-8-1 | Age: 29 | Betting line: -150
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 7 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 75” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.21 | Striking accuracy: 52%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.26 | Striking Defense: 63%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 60%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Split-decision loss to Ilir Latifi
Ovince “OSP” Saint Preux
Record: 25-15 | Age: 38 | Betting line: +125
Wins: 12 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 9 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 80” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.68 | Striking accuracy: 46%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.03 | Striking Defense: 45%
Takedown Average: 1.19 (40% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 66%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Jamahal Hill
This is a strange matchup and I’m not sure why it’s the co-main event because both fighters are unranked and coming off losses, but I guess the promotion is contracted to give talent three fights per year and nobody else was available, so here we are. Tanner Boser comes to us by way of Canada where he cut his teeth under the Unified MMA banner. Since joining UFC in late 2019, “The Bulldozer” has gone 3-3, including a UFC Busan loss to Ciryl Gane. Against lesser competition Boser has been able to shine, laying waste to the likes of Philipe Lins and Raphael Pessoa, but failing to do anything noteworthy against Andrei Arlovski, who has 20 career losses and Ilir Latifi, a former light heavyweight, does not leave me feeling good about his future in the Top 15. Boser has yet to score a takedown in six trips to the Octagon and seems content to just be thick and punch hard.
Working in his favor is the fact that he’s facing a rapidly-deteriorating Ovince Saint Preux, who is probably tired of cutting to light heavyweight now that he’s 38 years old and 40 fights into his pro career. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when “OSP” parlayed an 8-2 run into a Jon Jones welcoming party (which he lost) only to then go 6-7 while getting finished in four of those losses. After watching Saint Preux get wrecked by Jamahal Hill, it’s hard to know what to expect from the former Tennessee Volunteer. The optimist in me thinks “OSP” can stay away from the big punch and use what’s left of his athleticism to finagle another one of his Von Preux chokes. Let’s face it, Boser is not exactly the most dynamic heavyweight and his wrestling is virtually nonexistent. The big question for me is how well Saint Preux can manage his gas tank in his return to heavyweight, because he’s not getting any younger and he’s coming off his third knockout loss.
Much like the heavyweight main event, Saint Preux will probably take some time to establish his range. And why not? He’s got a five-inch reach advantage and better footwork. Whether or not he can use them to his benefit remains to be seen though I do think Boser may not realize he’s in trouble until the choke is already locked in.
Prediction: Saint Preux def. Boser by submission
Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 30 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 30 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 4 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 30 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the complete “Gane vs. Volkov” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.