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Alexander Volkov thinks jiu-jitsu is losing relevance in modern MMA

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Volkov vs Struve Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Volkov knows Fabricio Werdum’s submissions are his main threat, but he also thinks the “the gentle art” is losing its applicability in modern day MMA.

Ahead of their main event clash at UFC London, the Russian had nothing but praise for Werdum having trained with the Brazilian in the past.

“He’s really well-rounded and he’s really smart,” said Volkov at Thursday’s media day.

“I know he’s smart because I’ve trained with him. I think one of my best tools is my brain, I think I’m a smart fighter, too. I think it will be a really interesting fight because of that. I think the smarter fighter will win this fight, and I expect that to be me.”

Volkov drafted in help from the best grapplers in Russian to prepare for the former UFC heavyweight champion.

“We have a really big team of jiu-jitsu players in Russia, it’s a very well-known team in the grappling world, it’s called Team Strela. The guys on this team are the best jiu-jitsu players and the best grapplers in the country,” he explained.

“The team is made up of elite competitors. I’ve had the best wrestlers and the best submission fighters helping me to prepare from him. I feel like I’m ready for anything.”

Volkov specifically prepared for Werdum’s submission mastery, and for that reason he thinks it will be very challenging to force a tap from him. As far as he’s concerned, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for fighters to succeed who only have a mastery of jiu-jitsu compared to the formative years of MMA.

“Jiu-jitsu has a really long and rich history in MMA, but compared to the past, jiu-jitsu is not as important as it used to be. Less and less people who are only good at jiu-jitsu become UFC champions,” he said.

“Werdum is a really high-level jiu-jitsu player, and he’s definitely stronger than me in that area. He would win if we were just doing jiu-jitsu, but we’re not just doing jiu-jitsu.

“This is an MMA fight and I think it’s very difficult to submit guys who wrestle and also train in jiu-jitsu. I won’t trade submission with him, I’m going to strike with him and try to knock him out. I think it will be very difficult for him to submit me.”

The former M-1 and Bellator heavyweight champion was quick to point out that he does not see Werdum as a one dimensional fighter:

“He is really good at striking too, for sure. I can’t say he’s like those jiu-jitsu guys or wrestlers who are just good at one thing. He has really good striking and he knows how to use that skill. I just believe I’m better.”