Alexander Volkov often towers above his competition. That will not be the case in his latest appearance under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner.
“Drago” will move up the heavyweight totem pole and give up four inches of height when he faces the 6-foot-11 Stefan Struve in the UFC Fight Night 115 main event this Saturday at Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The winner figures to emerge as a possible suitor for the division’s elite. Volkov will coast into the match on a run of four consecutive victories, the last two of which occurred inside the Octagon. The 28-year-old Russian has not fought since April 15, when he took a three-round unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson. Representing the Team Strela outfit in his native Moscow, Volkov sports 21 finishes among his 28 professional wins.
As he approaches his high-stakes clash with Struve, here are five things you might not now about the former M-1 Global and Bellator MMA champion.
1. He associates with kings.
Volkov is one of three men to have captured the Bellator heavyweight crown, along with Cole Konrad and Vitaly Minakov. He held the title for 337 days, which represents one of the seven shortest title reigns in Bellator MMA history. Only Daniel Straus (133 days), Joe Warren (169 days), Pat Curran (176 days), Brandon Halsey (230 days), Phil Davis (232 days) and Eddie Alvarez (290 days) spent less time on their respective thrones.
2. Quality wins dot his resume.
The 6-foot-7, 249-pound Volkov owns victories over an International Fight League champion (Nelson), a Bellator champion (Attila Vegh), a World Series of Fighting champion (Blagoy Ivanov) and a UFC champion (Ricco Rodriguez).
3. If he can avoid breaking a sweat, he will.
Volkov has 15 first-round finishes to his credit. They account for more than half of his 28 career victories and include 20-, 26-, 40-, 80- and 81-second stoppages.
4. Accuracy has become a hallmark.
According to current FightMetric data, Volkov has connected on 62 percent of the significant strikes he has thrown in Ultimate Fighting Championship competition. If he had enough bouts to qualify, that percentage would rank second among all active UFC fighters. Former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem sits atop the significant strike accuracy heap at 73.2 percent.
5. More often than not, his losses have come against high-caliber opposition.
The six fighters who have beaten Volkov -- Minakov, Cheick Kongo, Tony Johnson, Pat Bennett, Maxim Grishin and Akhmed Sultanov -- own a cumulative record of 99-28-2.