The UFC will have a St Patrick’s day Fight Night 127 at the O2 Arena in London, England, this Saturday. Fabricio Werdum will face off against Alexander Volkov in the main event. Online MMA betting odds show Werdum having an advantage, with an average of +169.17 to Werdum’s -205 (numbers averaged over several betting platforms).
While Werdum is a former UFC Heavyweight champion with 6 KO victories, 11 submission wins, and 10 first round finishes; Volkov comes into this fight on a UFC three-fight winning streak (plus two more non-UFC victories prior to that) and will have his first ever shot at a former champion, in Werdum. Volkov’s last win was a TKO over Stefan Struve back on September 2nd of last year. Experts have been eyeing Volkov over the last few years and some think he has what it takes to one day be a UFC champion. Saturday’s fight with Werdum will go a long way in proving if he has the mettle.
The 29-year-old Russian, Volkov, comes from a Kyokushin and Tsu Shin Gen background; Traditional martial arts that emphasize sparring techniques. This approach has given him the ability to counter well with both his left and right hands, often times coming in combination with head kicks from his lead leg. Volkov is also a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. So, while grappling is not his preferred method of attack, he none-the-less has enough experience to get by.
Werdum, on the other hand, is a wiley 40-year-old veteran with an intimidating 23-7-1 MMA record. A legitimate champion, he is a highly deceptive and slippery fighter who has a diverse attack arsenal and is an expert at deception and thrives on confusing his opponent. Coming from a Jiu-Jitsu background, Werdum is known to throw complicated combinations of kicks and punches, although from time to time will attempt blows in isolation. He is also a master at deferring to his backside before escaping with a finely tuned guard game.
That makes this fight a very well thought up matchup by the UFC brass. Not only is it an old champion versus a young up and comer, it is also a battle of styles that will be interesting to see play out in the cage. Look for Werdum to try to lure Volkov into more of a wrestling game, as getting him to the ground will be key in the case of a Werdum victory. Volkov, meanwhile, will likely try to get Werdum to play a striking game, opting to stay away from the floor. It will take great patience on Volkov’s part, as Werdum is a master at luring fighters out of their comfort zones and into situations where he can take advantage.
Another interesting side note to this fight is that these two did train together for a short period. A lot of time has passed since then, so neither fighter should be expecting to see the same techniques that they did in training. Nonetheless, the two should have some familiarity with one another come fight night.