Alexander Volkov’s 41-fight professional MMA career has already seen him capture championships with Bellator MMA and M-1 Global.
At 32 years old, he may be nearing the most prestigious prize of them all: the UFC heavyweight strap. Volkov took another step toward that goal with a dominant performance in the UFC Fight Night 184 headliner on Saturday night, as he defeated perennial contender Alistair Overeem via technical knockout 2:06 into Round 2 of their bout at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Volkov bloodied Overeem with precise and powerful punches, flurrying effectively against the fence when the Dutchman went into his trademark defensive shell.
That punishment took its toll, and “Drago” clinched his victory with a left hook that sent Overeem tumbling to the canvas. Referee Jason Herzog wasted no time stepping in before Volkov could do any further damage.
“I work a lot with my jab and striking. I also work a lot on my wrestling. I was feeling good with my standup and felt I could finish him in the second or third round,” Volkov said. “I saw his face. He had a lot of cuts. I was just waiting for a good punch.”
Dating back to 2016, the 6-foot-7 Russian has won nine of 11 bouts, a stretch that includes victories over the likes of Overeem, Walt Harris, Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson and Timothy Johnson. Were it not for a furious rally from Derrick Lewis at UFC 229, that number could be 10 of 11, but Volkov believes he is nearing a title shot.
Volkov figures to be behind Curtis Blaydes in the divisional pecking order. Blaydes outwrestled Volkov in a five-round decision victory this past June and is scheduled to meet Lewis at UFC Fight Night 185 on Feb. 20. Meanwhile, Stipe Miocic will defend the heavyweight crown against Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27.
Volkov will be an interested observer in both cases.
“I want to fight for the belt, for sure,” he said. “There are some good fights [coming up] at heavyweight and we will see how they finish. We will see where [I fit in], but I want a title shot.”