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MMA’s ultimate prize has thus far eluded Alexander Volkov and his 80-inch reach.
The 6-foot-7 Russian will attempt to clear the latest obstacle in his path to contention when he meets former Dream, Strikeforce and K-1 World Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem in the UFC Fight Night 184 main event this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. A decisive victory over Overeem could conceivably position Volkov for a title eliminator in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division in the middle to latter half of 2021.
Volkov last appeared at UFC 254 in October, when he brought down Walt Harris with a body kick and follow-up punches. It was the Strela Team representative’s eighth win in 10 outings—a run of sustained success that includes wins over Stefan Struve, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson and former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.
As Volkov inches ever closer to his all-important showdown with Overeem, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He can walk in the company of one.
Volkov remains the only mixed martial artist in history who has captured titles in the Bellator MMA and M-1 Global promotions. He lorded over Bellator’s heavyweight division from Dec. 14, 2012 to Nov. 15, 2013 and reigned in M-1 Global from Feb. 19, 2016 until he signed with the UFC some seven months later.
2. Consistency has been a calling card.
The steady Volkov has suffered consecutive losses just once in his 40-fight career. He wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against Tony Johnson at Bellator 136 on April 10, 2015 and dropped a unanimous verdict to Cheick Kongo at Bellator 139 on June 26, 2015. On the other side of the coin, Volkov has enjoyed two five-fight winning streaks, a six-fight winning streak and a 10-fight winning streak.
3. He buys into the hit-and-avoid-getting-hit approach.
Volkov ranks fourth all-time among UFC heavyweights in striking differential at 2.46. He trails only Cain Velasquez (4.08), Todd Duffee (3.26) and Marcos Rogerio de Lima (2.62) in the category.
4. It generally takes someone of considerable skill to topple him.
The cumulative winning percentage of the eight men—Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis, Cheick Kongo, Tony Johnson , Vitaly Minakov, Pat Bennett, Maxim Grishin and Akhmed Sultanov—who have defeated Volkov stands at a robust .764. They own a combined record of 152-42-5.
5. His transition to a post-MMA career should not be an issue.
Far from a mindless brute, Volkov graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University with a degree in engineering in 2011.
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