March 13, 2018

UFC Fight Night 127: Winner of Werdum vs. Volkov Will Put His Name In the Heavyweight Title Discussion

By Adam Martin

This weekend at UFC Fight Night 127, which takes place Saturday at The O2 Arena in London, England, two of the top heavyweights in the UFC will look to throw their names in the hat of the title sweepstakes in the main event. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum will take on former Bellator MMA Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov, and the winner of the fight will be in good position to get a title shot.

Though Werdum is now 40, he's still fighting at an incredibly high level and has looked terrific in his last few fights. The Brazilian has won his last two fights, lopsided wins over Marcin Tybura and Walt Harris, and has won three of his last four, with a unanimous decision win over Travis Browne preceding a close, majority decision loss to Alistair Overeem. Since losing his belt to Stipe Miocic in 2016 via brutal KO Werdum has proven he's one of the top three heavyweights in the world, and though he's getting up there in age, it appears that he's actually still improving every time we see him fight. Werdum is one of the best heavyweights in MMA history, and he's not done adding to his legacy just yet. But first, he will have to get by Volkov, and that won't be easy to do.

Volkov, who is still just 29, is currently riding a five-fight win streak since being released from Bellator in 2015. After winning the M-1 heavyweight title and then defending the belt once, the UFC signed him and it turned out to be a smart signing. Since making his Octagon debut in late 2016, Volkov has gone 3-0 in the UFC, with decision wins over Timothy Johnson and Roy Nelson, plus, in his last outing, a devastating TKO win over Stefan Struve that saw him win a share of "Fight of the Night." The Russian-born fighter has always been an intriguing heavyweight because of his height (he's 6'7"), long reach (81") and knockout power (19 TKO wins), and he has not disappointed at all since signing with the UFC.

Right now, the UFC heavyweight division is being somewhat held up by the superfight set for UFC 226 this July between UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Once the winner of that fight is decided, then the title opportunities are back up for grabs. It's possible former champion Cain Velasquez could get the next title shot if Miocic wins, but he's pretty much the only person in front of the Werdum-Volkov winner at this point. So the winner of UFC London's main event is going to be in a really good position to get a title shot sometime later this year. It's imperative, then, that both men go out there and put on a great performance, with a big stoppage for the winner being essential to showing the UFC brass that he should be next in line.

The UFC heavyweight division can be shallow at times, so it's nice to see the promotion actually be able to match two guys on winning streaks against each other. The division is on hold right now while Miocic and Cormier settle their score, but after that, things are wide open. Londoners would have preferred it if English fighters like Michael Bisping or Darren Till headlined their card this weekend, but this heavyweight tilt between Werdum and Volkov will have to do. But for fans on this side of with potentially so much riding on the line, fans are hoping they are in store for a great fight.


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