Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 56 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow afternoon (Sat., June 4, 2022) from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a heavyweight main event between Top 10 title hopefuls Alexander Volkov and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, a five-round headliner with serious title implications for late 2022 and beyond.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the featherweight collision between Dan Ige and Movsar Evloev, check out Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 56 preliminary card — which he wrote during the end credits of Top Gun: “Maverick” — by clicking here and here. In addition, in-house pro fighter Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 56 main card right here.
For the latest “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.
Let’s get to work.
265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozsenstruik
Alexander ‘Drago’ Volkov
Record: 34-10 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -155
Wins: 22 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 6’7“ | Reach: 80” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.83 | Striking accuracy: 57%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.04 | Striking Defense: 53%
Takedown Average: 0.52 (70% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 71%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Submission loss to Tom Aspinall
Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik
Record: 12-3 | Age: 34 | Betting line: +135
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.80 | Striking accuracy: 46%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.07 | Striking Defense: 45%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 75%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Curtis Blaydes
UFC has staged 61 events since the start of 2021, with 12 of those cards being headlined by five-round heavyweight main events. That’s more than any other weight class and one of the big reasons MMA fans are pissing and moaning about this weekend’s card. No disrespect intended to either Alexander Volkov or Jairzinho Rozenstruik, but do we need to put them through a 25-minute grind? I understand that UFC has more fight cards than it has marquee names, just as I understand that Volkov is not a legitimate title contender. “Drago” has four losses under the UFC banner and they came against Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, Ciryl Gane, and Tom Aspinall. Those names represent four of the Top 6 fighters at 265 pounds, leaving Volkov at No. 7 and Rozenstruik right behind him at No. 8. “Bigi Boy” faces some of the same criticism, posting losses to Blaydes, Gane, and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. That makes this weekend’s headliner a logical matchup in terms of rankings and now we have to determine which hulking hurter goes home with the “W.”
Volkov finds the most success when he’s afforded the real estate to work at range. The towering Russian sports an 80” reach and is one of the few fighters who knows how to actually use it. “Drago” will also move into third place on the promotion’s all-time list of Significant Strikes Landed and depending on how long the fight drags on, could find himself finishing in the No. 2 spot. Volkov lands nearly five significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 57 percent, a notable stat when you consider Rozenstruik absorbs more strikes per minute than he lands (2.80 vs. 3.07). That hasn’t stopped “Bigi Boy” from racking up 11 knockouts in 12 wins, because the Surinamese striker — a former kickboxer with a knockout win over Benjamin Adegbuyi — can weather any storm not named Hurricane Francis to deliver his own punishing offense. Volkov may prove to be the busier striker and likely jump out to an early lead on the judges’ scorecards, but he’ll be in mortal danger for all 25 minutes, assuming it lasts that long. I can easily see this fight playing out like Volkov vs. Lewis, it just remains to be seen if Rozenstruik can follow the example set by “The Black Beast” and end their heavyweight showdown by way of buzzer-beating knockout.
Prediction: Volkov def. Rozenstruik by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Movsar Evloev
Dan ‘50k’ Ige
Record: 15-5 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +300
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 71” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.90 | Striking accuracy: 46%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.47 | Striking Defense: 57%
Takedown Average: 1.35 (25% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 55%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Josh Emmett
Record: 15-0 | Age: 28 | Betting line: -400
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 8 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.32 | Striking accuracy: 44%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.79 | Striking Defense: 63%
Takedown Average: 4.00 (47% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 71%
Current Ranking: No. 13 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Hakeem Dawodu
Fight fans bummed about the heavyweight main event can find solace in the UFC Vegas 56 co-headliner between Dan Ige and Movsar Evloev, which my Mac autocorrect insists on changing to “Mover Evolve.” This is more than just a fun fight between Top 15 featherweights, it stands as a legitimate test for the undefeated Russian, who jumped out to a 5-0 start after a torrid run on the international circuit. While the future looks bright for the 28 year-old featherweight, it is a bit concerning that he racked up seven finishes in 10 wins for M-1 Challenge then got to UFC and battled to the judges’ scorecards in all five appearances — including a split nod opposite veteran bruiser (and since retired) Nik Lentz at UFC 257 in early 2021. The key to his success is certainly no secret, Evloev lands an average of four takedowns per fight and when you consider his success rate is less than 50 percent, you can get an idea of how many times he’s shooting per three rounds (spoiler alert: it’s a lot). Don’t expect the Ingushetia native to reinvent the wheel on Saturday afternoon in “Sin City.”
That presents a specific problem for the all-action Ige, who was taken down by Chan Sung Jung in his decision loss to “The Korean Zombie” at UFC Vegas 29 roughy one year back. More troubling is the fact that “50k” — who adopted that nickname (R.I.P. “Dynamite”) after racking up a couple of $50k performance bonuses — has a takedown defense of just 55 percent. I don’t think there is any question the Hawaiian is going to the floor in this contest, it’s just a question of how often and for how long. Ige, 30, has also dropped three of his last four, so it’s not outrageous to suggest we’re looking at the beginning of the end, as opposed to a rough stretch. I think this fight will help shed some light on that determination. That doesn't mean this is a “gimme” for Evloev. Ige has knockout power (Gavin Tucker) and sneaky submissions, evidenced by the kimura he uncorked on Diego Pichilingue under the LFC banner. If the Russian gets too comfortable in guard or shoots lackadaisically, he could lose an arm or silver platter a guillotine.
I don’t think we can overlook the experience factor for Ige, who’s been in there with some of the top names in the division like Calvin Kattar and the aforementioned Jung. He also survived the bludgeoning power of Josh Emmett, so we can forget about “50k” going down in flames. At the same time, there is a reason bookies pegged him as a 3-to-1 underdog and that has more to do with wrestling as an offensive tool and less to do with Ige as an overall fighter. Expect Evloev to stick with what got him to the big dance because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Prediction: Evloev def. Ige by unanimous decision
Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 56 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 56 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 56 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.