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UFC 254: Volkov vs Harris Preview

We get more Heavyweight action this weekend as Alexander Volkov (31-8) takes on Walt Harris (13-8) in a bout where both men look to return to their winning ways.

Background

Former M1 Global and Bellator Heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov started his UFC stint very well, achieving a record of 4-0 in the promotion. His first UFC loss was handed to him by Derrick Lewis in a fight that Volkov was winning until being caught by Lewis in the last round. He managed to rebound from the loss with a win over former NFL athlete, Greg Hardy. Unfortunately for Volkov, he couldn’t piece together a streak, losing a 5 round main event fight to Curtis Blaydes in June. Volkov hopes he can evolve from the Blaydes loss and beat Harris this weekend. 

Alexander Volkov

Walt Harris’ UFC career has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. The former college basketball player made the transition to MMA in 2011 and signed with the UFC in 2013 after stringing together a five-fight win streak. Harris lost his promotional debut and his consecutive fight and was released by the UFC, only to resign with them as a late replacement 10 months later. Harris lost that fight and struggled to put together a win streak in the UFC. When luck was finally on Harris’ side and he’d won 4 in a row (including a win over Andrei Arlovski which was later overturned due to a doping violation) Harris had to take an unexpected leave from the sport after the tragic murder of his step-daughter. He returned to face Alistair Overeem earlier this year and despite almost finishing his foe in the first, Harris lost the bout in the second round.

Previous fight

In his last fight, Alexander Volkov was on the losing end of a wrestling heavy performance by Curtis Blaydes. Volkov was taken down a whopping 14 times in the fight and struggled to get off any real offence until the last round when Blaydes was suffering due to his cardio. Volkov needs to use his kicks to keep Harris at bay in this fight, that way he can keep his distance from the power shots Harris likes to throw and avoid his clinch work too. Volkov needs to channel the performance he had against Derrick Lewis (prior to the KO of course) and pick his shots carefully. Harris could also look to take the fight to the ground after seeing the success Blaydes had so this is another thing Volkov needs to be conscious of if he wants to get the win here. 

Walt Harris

Walt Harris looked like he was going to finish Alistair Overeem in his last fight after he hurt him in the first round. Harris got a little carried away after seeing Reem hurt and rushed to finish the fight, giving Overeem the opportunity to get a better position and land some big shots on Harris towards the end of the round. When the second round started Blaydes was very tired, having spent most of his energy trying to finish Overeem in the first, and ultimately got caught by Overeem’s power and follow-up punches on the ground. If Harris had better cardio he might have been able to survive the barrage of strikes from Overeem. Walt Harris is a power puncher and he needs to avoid getting too trigger happy if he hurts Volkov in this fight. He needs to pace himself and know when to rush in or this fight could end up very much like his last. 

Aftermath

With a win this weekend Alexander Volkov should fight Alistair Overeem, there’s no doubt the fight would be an exciting stand-up war between two veterans of the sport. If Volkov is on the losing end a fight with Alexey Oleinik would make a lot of sense. There’s no question a lot of people would like to see Walt Harris pick up the win this weekend after the trauma he and his family suffered last year and if he succeeds, he should fight another Heavyweight legend – Junior Dos Santos. If Harris does lose, a fight with Augusto Sakai could be on the cards, especially since both men have recently lost to Overeem. This one looks like it could be an exciting stand-up battle and it definitely deserves its place on this weekend’s huge card. 


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