It may not have gone exactly as Alexander Volkov and his team drew it up, but there’s no arguing with the results.
The 29-year-old Russian heavyweight picked up the biggest win of his career on Saturday, knocking out former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC London. It wasn’t easy for Volkov, who was taken down several times by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, only to build steam in the third period en route to finding the finish in the fourth.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Volkov admitted that while the he was pleased with the outcome, the path to get there was far from easy.
“I’m not really happy with all the fight, like how it goes… I used in this fight not Plan A or Plan B, I used Plan C, so it was a worse plan, how it can go, but Fabricio was prepared very good for this fight. He gave a very hard fight for me,” Volkov said.
Volkov spent much of the first two rounds on his back, but as the bout progressed, it became clear that the damage Volkov was able to do in the standup took its toll on Werdum. His ability to avoid the worst of Werdum’s attacks on the ground also appeared to frustrate the 40-year-old veteran.
Prior to being booked for a meeting in the Octagon, Volkov and Werdum had actually trained together in the past and Volkov believes that familiarity led to headaches for both fighters.
“I think it was both of us, we were more cautious in this fight,” Volkov said. “I mean [we know each other well]. He knows that I can punch very hard and I know that his jiu-jitsu’s very good. It was a smart fight, waiting for mistakes. He’s waiting for me to make a mistake in jiu-jitsu, I’m waiting for him to make a mistake in the standup. I’m just working for this and did my job.”
Making things worse was the mental hurdle that Volkov had to overcome competing not only against a friend, but a fighter that he looks up to. He spoke of uncertainty earlier in the week and touched upon those comments again after the fight.
“When you feel some uncertainty in the fight against a person you were looking forward to in your youth and one of the fighters that you think of as one of the best in the world and you feel that it’s a real stepping stone in your career that will bring you to a completely other level, you always feel uncomfortable,” Volkov said through a translator. “But I tried to hide it and I really knew that it was the most important fight in my life. That’s why it was a little bit uncomfortable.”
Volkov said that as much as he respected the challenge that Werdum offered, he expects that the hardest fights are still ahead. Namely, a potential meeting with the winner of July’s UFC 226 main event between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
With Miocic’s title on the line, Volkov is hoping he has done enough to be next in line for a shot at the heavyweight crown. He now holds a 30-6 record with six consecutive wins, including a 4-0 mark in the UFC.
The ideal plan for Volkov would be to get that title shot in Russia later this year, and he didn’t state a preference for either Miocic or Cormier.
“I think I deserve title shot right now because my win streak is four fights,” Volkov said. “I won against the former UFC champion (Werdum), before I won against [Stefan Struve, who beat] the current UFC champion, so maybe it’s my time.”