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The dark horse label no longer applies to Alexander Volkov.
On a steady climb inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division, the former Bellator MMA and M-1 Global champion damaged and discarded Alistair Overeem in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 184 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Overeem (47-19, 12-8 UFC), who looked like he had been hit by wayward helicopter blades, succumbed to blows 2:06 into Round 2.
Volkov (33-8, 7-2 UFC) was powerful and precise. He battered Overeem bloody in the first round, where he took advantage of the smaller cage, flurried with punches along the fence on more than one occasion and knocked him off-balance with a clubbing left hand. However, the worst was yet to come for “The Demolition Man.” Volkov unleashed his jab and devastating one-twos in the second round, further mangling his counterpart’s face. He shut down a desperate takedown attempt from Overeem and floored the onetime Dream, Strikeforce and K-1 World Grand Prix titleholder with a chopping left hook that was well-hidden behind the straight right that preceded it. The Dutchman dropped to all-fours, necessitating the stoppage from referee Jason Herzog.
The 32-year-old Volkov has posted nine wins across his past 11 appearances.
Sandhagen Knee KOs Edgar
Burgeoning Elevation Fight Team star Cory Sandhagen knocked out future hall of famer Frankie Edgar with a picture-perfect flying knee in the first round of their bantamweight co-main event. Sandhagen (14-2, 7-1 UFC) brought it to a jaw-dropping close 28 seconds into Round 1, winning for the ninth time in 10 outings and almost certainly cementing himself as the No. 1 contender at 135 pounds.
Edgar (24-9-1, 18-9-1 UFC) pressed the issue, only to have his aggression used against him. Sandhagen sidestepped the former lightweight champion, took flight and planted his knee on the jaw. Edgar froze where he stood, collapsed and hit the canvas motionless and unconscious.
Sandhagen now awaits the outcome of the forthcoming bantamweight title fight between reigning champion Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 on March 6.
Ageless Guida Sinks Johnson
Team Alpha Male’s Clay Guida stopped the bleeding from a two-fight losing streak and notched his first win in nearly two years, as he took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson in a grueling three-round lightweight showcase. Guida (36-20, 16-14 UFC) drew 30-27 nods from all three judges.
Johnson (19-17, 11-13 UFC) was forced to play defense for much of the 15-minute dogfight. Guida blasted him with overhand rights, applied merciless pressure and chased takedowns with a maniacal purpose. Johnson unleashed occasional multi-punch volleys and wobbled “The Carpenter” with a lightning-quick straight right in the third round, but he could not keep the former Strikeforce champion at bay. Guida swooped in for another attempted takedown in the waning moments of the match, scrambled to the back and secured his position with a body triangle before nearly finishing it with a rear-naked choke. Johnson fought through fatigue and a relentless opponent to avoid being submitted, only to hear the scores read in Guida’s favor.
The mercurial Johnson, who turns 35 in June, has lost his last four fights, seven of his past nine and nine of his last 12.
Pantoja Spoils Kape Debut
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 24 semifinalist Alexandre Pantoja leaned on superior output and consistency, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over former Rizin Fighting Federation champion Manel Kape in a three-round flyweight attraction. Scores were 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, all for Pantoja (23-5, 7-3 UFC), who has won five of his last seven bouts.
Kape (15-5, 0-1 UFC) had his moments but suffered from too much inactivity in his promotional debut. He landed a glancing cartwheel kick in the first round, snuck in stabbing left hands and connected with a crisp two-punch combination in the third, punctuated by a right hook. Pantoja applied heavy forward pressure throughout, attacked the legs and body with kicks, countered when the situation called for it and denied the organizational newcomer’s bids for takedowns.
The loss snapped Kape’s run of consecutive victories at three.
Dariush Edges Ferreira in Rematch
Multiple takedowns, stellar positional control and effective ground-and-pound carried Kings MMA’s Beneil Dariush to a split decision over Diego Ferreira in their three-round lightweight rematch. All three judges scored it 29-28: Chris Lee and Dave Hagen for Dariush, Jerin Valel for Ferreira.
Ferreira (17-3, 8-3 UFC) withstood a brutal knee strike to the body in the first round but ran into considerable difficulty with takedown defense. Dariush (20-4-1, 14-4-1) grounded him repeatedly across the first 10 minutes, frustrating the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder with his relentless effort. Ferreira, to his credit, never gave up his pursuit. He staggered Dariush with an overhand right and front kick in the first round, then used his hand speed advantage to rack up effective punching combinations in the third. However, Ferreira’s fell short on the scorecards, and he went down to defeat for the first time in nearly six years.
Dariush now finds himself on a six-fight winning streak. He owns a 2-0 advantage in his head-to-head series with Ferreira, having beaten the Brazilian by unanimous decision in their first encounter on Oct. 25, 2014.
Marques Throttles Rodrigues Unconscious
Danilo Marques put Dana White’s Contender Series alum Mike Rodriguez to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their light heavyweight showcase. In his first appearance since he suffered a controversial Sept. 12 defeat to Ed Herman, Rodriguez (11-6, 2-4 UFC) lost his grip on reality 4:52 into Round 2.
Marques (11-2, 2-0 UFC) was methodical with his approach. He delivered multiple takedowns, neutralized Rodriguez on the mat and let his skills do the rest. Marques climbed to full mount in the second round, applied his ground-and-pound and progressed to the back. He then cinched the choke, tightened his squeeze through Rodriguez’s attempt to hand fight and cut off blood flow to the brain.
The 35-year-old Marques has won four fights in a row.
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