UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov
Saturday, June 20 – UFC Apex Facility, Las Vegas, Nevada
The main event of this cards is one that MMA fans have been looking forward to ever since it was put together. It features the third-ranked fighter in the rankings in Curtis Blaydes taking on the seventh-ranked Alexander Volkov. Given the state of the heavyweight division at the moment, this bout could easily end up being an eliminator for a future shot at the belt.
Blaydes (13-2-1) is working through the division after losing a pair of bouts against Francis Ngannou. It is a little unfair to say he is treading water, but Blaydes just needs to keep winning until someone else eliminates “The Predator” from the top of the rankings. Blaydes is still trying to break the misconception that he is nothing more than a one-dimensional (wrestling) fighter and a win here over Volkov that shows other parts of his arsenal would go a long way to silencing his critics.
Volkov (31-7) may have more miles on his body than the fighter two years his junior, but “Drago” shows no signs of slowing down now that he is in his 30s. The 6-foot-7 fighter has footwork and quickness that belies his stature and his intelligence in the octagon – gained through his vast number of bouts – means that he will be an intriguing challenge for the favored Blaydes and not one that he should take at all lightly.
Volkov will need to use all his nous here to avoid being taken to the ground by the leather grappler in Blaydes. The key will be using his long legs to keep Blaydes at bay while looking for an opening to catch him with a big strike. Ultimately, I expect Blaydes to have too much here and win by a TKO. The favorite has odds of 0.36 with BetXChange.
The co-main sees Shane “Hurricane” Burgos (13-1) taking on Josh Emmett (15-2). These are the No. 10 and No. 8 fighters in the 145 pounds class respectively.
Emmett is a fighter with plenty of power, something that it could be argued he replies a little too much on at times. The 35-year-old is in stunning condition for his age and if he wants to pick up a win here over a fighter six years his junior then he may have to tap back on the power and overt aggression a touch to bring back some of his wrestling skills.
Burgos is an under the radar fighter who has put together a 6-1 run that has seen him climb the rankings into the top 10. The concern here is that his one loss was to a power striker – boxer Calvin Kattar – something to consider when looking at his opponent here.
Emmett can hardly be called a boxer and his striking attacks are much more of a barely controlled frenzy compared to the surgical fists being thrown by Kattar. Even so, Burgos – while more technically solid – feels like he is in trouble here against a fighter that only needs one opening to win a fight. The finesse style of Burgos has worked in many UFC fights, but this one is one where power is going to trump technical ability. Take the underdog to win with Emmett sitting at 1.17 with BetXChange.