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UFC Vegas 3: Blaydes vs. Volkov

This Saturday, June 20, UFC will hold its third event at UFC Apex. Headed by the heavy duel between Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov, the preliminary card for the event starts at 9 pm GMT with lightweights Austin Hubbard and Martin Rohskopf. The main starts at 12 am with Jim Miller and Roosevelt Roberts at the combined weight of 72.5kg.


The rise of Curtis Blaydes (13-2 in MMA, 8-2 in the UFC) is a necessary breath of renewal among the heavyweights. The wrestler debuted with defeat to a then-unknown Francis Ngannou - until today, the only stone in the American's shoe - and won a good part of the good names in the shallow category among his setbacks for the Cameroonian. Curtis has already beaten Mark Hunt, Oleksiy Oleinik, Alistair Overeem and Justin Willis, but had the most impressive performance of his career by dominating former champion Junior Cigano standing in his last fight.

National and All-American champion in folkstyle wrestling , Blaydes has his main weapons in the fight. Double legs and explosive belts are followed by a powerful ground and pound (see the knockout over Overeem) and a stifling game over the top. In addition, he has developed a basic but efficient game in the standing fight, based on boxing, with some opportune kicks and knees in the clinch . In addition to wrestling , Curtis also differentiates himself physically, since, in addition to his enormous strength, he is athletic and well conditioned for heavyweights.

Former heavyweight champion of Bellator and M1 Global, Alexander Volkov (31-7 in MMA, 5-1 in UFC) arrived in the UFC with a lot of pomp, and soon accumulated a good sequence of four victories in the organization, crowned with a knockout about Fabrício Werdum. His rise was delayed by the infamous knockout suffered at the hands of the Black Beast, Derrick Lewis, in a fight that the Russian won without major difficulties. The recovery came with an easy victory over weak Greg Hardy in his last appearance.

Based on karate, Volkov is a very technical striker compared to the category average. He uses good wingspan to hit blitzes with straight strokes and kicks, but he has a terrible tendency to expose himself at close range and enter unnecessary clinches , ignoring his strengths. The takedown defense is relatively weak, but it is compensated by good ground defense, as shown against Werdum. The grappling is usually pretty decent, and has earned a submission on the sambo world champion Blagoy Ivanov.
Saturday's main event is one of the best matches we can see between the heavyweights. They are two of the best fighters out of the top 3 of the division and potential challengers for the belt. Furthermore, it is a classic confrontation of styles, which is precisely what should win the victory for Blaydes. Much of the Russian's defeats came from deficiency in wrestling and he uses almost no side evasion to avoid approaches. The American is even stronger, more resistant and has the ability to follow a game plan for five rounds. Thus, we bet on a victory by decision or late knockout in favor of Blaydes, sticking to Volkov repeatedly, putting him down and working the pressure on the clinch.