After 13 months away, Alexander Volkov returned to action in his home country on Saturday while also getting back in the win column.
Volkov used an effective striking attack over three rounds to get the better of Greg Hardy, who accepted the fight on short notice after former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was forced out of the fight. When it was all said and done, Volkov got the job done with all three scorecards reading 30-27 in his favor.
It was an important win for the Russian after he suffered his first UFC loss last October in a shocking come from behind performance from Derrick Lewis.
“I had a full year with a bad side of my career but I’m back,” Volkov said following the win.
Showing no signs of ring rust after a long break between fights, Volkov was quick to establish his kicking game early with several stiff shots landed to Hardy’s legs. Volkov used his veteran experience to set up a lead jab while staying out of the way of the haymakers coming back at him from the former football player.
Before the opening round ended, Hardy landed his best punches when he launched a pair of powerful left hooks that were targeted at Volkov’s head. While he didn’t connect clean on either shot, Hardy definitely got the Russian’s attention.
Between rounds, Hardy revealed to his corner that his right hand was damaged during an early exchange, which seemingly took away one of his strongest weapons.
Despite the apparent injury, Hardy continued to throw his right hand while Volkov maintained a technical kickboxing advantage as he was constantly peppering away with combinations from the outside.
Volkov was still careful not to engage in a fire fight with Hardy, who was throwing heat whenever he returned fire.
While he wasn’t doing a ton of damage, Volkov’s output was just far higher throughout nearly every minute of every round as he continued to feed Hardy a steady diet of kicks to the legs and body and then coming back up top with an effective jab to the head.
When the final horn sounded, Volkov was confident in the victory as he earned the unanimous decision to move to 5-1 in the UFC while notifying the heavyweight division that he’s officially back.
As for Hardy, he didn’t have a bad showing despite losing the unanimous decision, although it was clear he still has a ways to go before competing with the best heavyweights in the UFC.