Alexander Volkov arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship as an intriguing face in a not-so-intriguing crowd in November 2016 and did so to little fanfare. Four consecutive victories later, he has transformed himself into an unlikely contender for the heavyweight title.
“Drago” overcame an inauspicious start to frustrate, fatigue and finish Fabricio Werdum, as he knocked out the two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist in the fourth round of their UFC Fight Night 127 headliner on March 17 in London. Volkov brought it to a close 1:38 into Round 4, burying the Brazilian with a series of right uppercuts and a brutal standing-to-ground dagger. The win pushes the former Bellator MMA champion to No. 4 in our latest heavyweight rankings and at the very least puts him on a short list of possible suitors for whoever emerges from the champion-versus-champion superfight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. In a resulting move, Werdum falls to fifth on the divisional list, his immediate future clouded by increasing age and undeniable mileage.
Volkov was not the only mover and shaker across the pond. Jan Blachowicz avenged a 2015 defeat to Jimi Manuwa and spoiled the Brit’s homecoming in the UFC Fight Night “Werdum vs. Volkov” co-main event, as the former KSW champion walked away with a decisive unanimous decision. Given up for dead after losing four times in five appearances between April 11, 2015 and April 8, 2017, Blachowicz has rattled off three straight wins at 205 pounds. His unexpected surge sees him slot in at No. 7 in the light heavyweight rankings, bumping Manuwa to eighth.
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