Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight bruisers Alexander Volkov and Alexander Romanov will lock horns this weekend (Sat., March 11, 2023) at UFC Las Vegas inside The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the last four years, Volkov has lost to nobody but elite talent from the young generation. Though he hasn’t managed to secure a title shot yet, “Drago” has bulked up in recent years, which has proven significant in helping Volkov end fights before the bell. Meanwhile, Romanov — who steps onto the scale north of 260 pounds — is a consistent finisher himself. He suffered the first loss of his professional career last time out in a back-and-forth scrap with Marcin Tybura; however, prior to that defeat, “King Kong” had wracked up 15 finishes in 16 wins.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC Vegas 18), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 229), Jairzinho Rozenstruik (UFC Vegas 56), Marcin Tybura (UFC 267), Walt Harris (UFC 254), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 115), Blagoy Ivanov (Bellator 120)
Keys Losses: Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 30), Tom Aspinall (UFC London), Curtis Blaydes (UFC on ESPN 11), Derrick Lewis (UFC 229)
Keys to Victory: Volkov is a talented kickboxer with a background in various forms of Karate. Historically, he’s a high-volume striker who breaks down his opponents with long punches and snappy kicks, but lately, he’s been shutting off the lights far more quickly.
One way or another, he’s stopped 23 foes via knockout.
The biggest key here for Volkov is to survive the first round. Romanov is really damn good at throwing his weight around early, flipping his foe to the canvas, then finishing with strikes or submissions from mount. He’s massive, and getting caught beneath him in a bad spot is a costly mistake.
Fortunately, Volkov has played the long game before. Years ago, he survived Fabricio Werdum’s vaunted ground game by holding guard and waiting him out, then capitalizing when Werdum tired. Volkov has to play it safe here as well, lest he get steamrolled. After the first round, Romanov’s takedowns aren’t so explosive, and his top control is less threatening. That’s when Volkov can start scrambling, sticking front kicks, and hunting for the knockout in earnest.
Key Wins: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (UFC Vegas 13), Chase Sherman (UFC Vegas 53), Jared Vanderaa (UFC Vegas 39)
Key Losses: Marcin Tybura (UFC 278)
Keys to Victory: Romanov is an accomplished freestyle wrestler. In the cage, he has a deceptively fast shot and can secure huge throws from the clinch. Once on top, he’s a serious finishing threat with strikes and strangles.
Last time out, Romanov tried to gun for the early finish, and when it didn’t materialize, he was fairly spent. Hopefully, that was a learning experience for Romanov, because the 32-year-old Moldovan does bring interesting skills to the Heavyweight table.
The necessity of managing his gas tank should be the biggest lesson. Volkov is an experienced Heavyweight with plenty of experience outlasting grapplers — this is not an opponent against whom Romanov should bet it all on the first-round finish.
That said, Volkov isn’t that hard to take down. If Romanov can get him down, work methodically, and focus on controlling his breathing, he should be able to manage his output. If he can still wrestle effectively in the second, he should be able to win at least two rounds, putting him in good position to take the decision if the finish doesn’t materialize.
A spot in the Heavyweight Top 10 is on the line.
Volkov enters this fight ranked at No. 8, so it’s his spot on the line. Smoking Rozenstruik in the first round helps, but Volkov really needs a win streak to get back in the title hunt. He’s lost to three members of the current Top Five, which really limits his ability to move up the ladder. The only solution is consecutive wins over ranked opposition, which can eventually score him rematches with men like Gane, Aspinall, and Blaydes.
As for Romanov, he has an opportunity to fight further up the ladder even after losing to Tybura. Victory here would be the biggest of his career and should break him into the Top 10. Plus, he’s still pretty young overall for a Heavyweight. Overall, a win would be quite promising for his longterm future, helping him move forward from his first defeat.
At UFC Las Vegas, Alexander Volkov and Alexander Romanov will battle in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Las Vegas fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 6 p.m. ET.
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