Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight kickboxers Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov clashed last night (Sept. 2, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 115 inside Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Heavyweight division was wide open in the lead up of this fight, and both men were hoping to capitalize. In Struve’s case, a pair of previous stoppage wins — as well as an old victory over the champ — sent him to this main event slot, which could push him into the top five.
That’s a longtime milestone for the Dutchman, one he had never quite reached.
On the other hand, Volkov achieved gold in both of his previous major organizations, even if his Bellator run did not end well. It only took two fights for him to break into the top 10, but this was an opportunity to become a contender.
The fighters opened up in very Muay Thai-style, standing tall and throwing low kicks. The two traded at a reasonable pace, and both men were landing effectively, snapping heads back. Struve scored with the first big combination of the fight, briefly stunning his opponent with an uppercut and right hand.
The first round was really quite interesting. VOlkov did good work with fast combinations and clinch work, while Struve landed some hard jabs, kicks, and a few jump knees. It was overall a rather close round that Struve was dictating, at least until Volkov landed a late takedown and did some damage on the mat.
The tallest fight in UFC history was off to a great start.
Struve pressured to open the second round and landed some good punches, but Volkov circled well and kicked at his opponent’s legs. “Drago” was wearing the damage of the previous round, and he seemed a bit fatigued as well. At about the midway point, however, Volkov absorbed a hard uppercut but returned right away, stunning his foe and landing a big combination. Afterward, Volkov was the aggressor, and he found holes in Struve’s defense for the remainder of the round.
It was an evenly matched battle for much of the round, but Volkov did a lot of damage late.
While both men were tired by the third, Volkov’s hand speed was holding up well. He did a lot of damage on the break of exchanges, waiting for Struve to take a second off and capitalizing with speed. A jab shook Struve a bit and sent him into the cage, where his old habit of covering up along the fence bit him once again. Struve remained planted and covered up, but a pair of accurate uppercuts from the Russian brought an end to Struve’s night.
Volkov adapted very well in this bout. It was pretty obvious in the first round that he was uncomfortable fighting a taller and longer man, and he absorbed some shots as a result. However, he slowly found his own distance, and once Volkov shifted the fight into his control, he never allowed Struve to work back into the bout.
Volkov did an excellent job of picking his shots. In a high-pace fight, landing meaningful shots is the most important thing. Volkov let his opponent throw a lot of jabs and kicks that were slower and interrupted, then he would explode into a fast, short combination of his own that was far more effective and efficient.
That damage added up, and “Skyscraper” fell.
After this win, Volkov is in great position in the Heavyweight division. There’s a slim chance he receives the next title shot, but the more likely event is that he ends up in a title eliminator bout with either Alistair Overeem or Francis Ngannou.
In the first round, Struve fought well. He interrupted Volkov’s offense with jabs and kicks up the middle, and the Dutchman found success in timing his opponent’s head movement as well. Unfortunately, his bad habits arose as he fatigued, eventually leaving him with his feet stuck in the mud and his head still.
Against a dangerous striker, that’s a bad situation.
Nevertheless, Struve did show some of the best kickboxing in his career in the opening round. There’s hope for 29 year old’s future, even if it’s slow coming.
Last night at UFC Fight Night 115, Alexander Volkov battered Stefan Struve for a third round stoppage. Who should Volkov face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 115 “Struve vs Volkov” results and play-by-play, click HERE!