UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov Keys to Victory

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Overeem vs Volkov Staff Picks

At UFC Vegas 18, perennial UFC heavyweight contender and MMA legend Alistair Overeem face Alexander Volkov in a continued journey for the last title-shot before retirement labeled: The Final Run! Overeem vs Volkov is a banger with “classic fight” potential. With both men surging off impressive wins by TKO finish, the results of this one could have big implications on the title picture!

Alistair Overeem (47-18-1NC)

”The Demolition Man” is truly a legend of our sport. Yet, the former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 Kickboxing heavyweight champion has never captured the elusive UFC heavyweight title. Making “The final run” a poetic saga of carnage, Overeem has finished 4 out of his last 5 opponents via TKO. Most recently decimating Brazilian prospect Augusto Sakai back at UFC Vegas 9, and finishing the man 26 seconds into the 5th round.

To go over a career as illustrious as Alistair Overeem’s would take an entire article (or even a series of articles) by itself, so I’ll just go over some legendary accolades and wins.

To start, Overeem was the first fighter to ever simultaneously hold three belts at once. One of only two fighters to hold a belt in MMA and K-1. With two wins over Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Vitor Belfort, and singular victories over names like Frank Mir, Junior Dos Santos, and Andrei Arlovski; you could say Alistair Overeem has faced literally the best of the best in his time!

Which makes Overeem vs Volkov such an intriguing matchup. Both men are veterans, but Overeem has an undeniable experience edge. The thing about “The Demolition Man”, is his career could have taken such a different path. Flashing back to UFC 203 in 2016, Overeem was moments away from finishing current reigning-champ Stipe Miocic! The champ would rally back, and finish “The Demolition Man” instead. All of this action would take place in the first round, as well. With the fight stopping 4 minutes and 27 seconds into the round.

That fight was for the belt, and if things had gone differently; a lot of history would be drastically changed if Alistair had become champion that day. Maybe things were meant to be, and we were meant to be gifted the gem of Overeem vs Volkov from the MMA gods though? Who knows.

Alexander Volkov (32-8)

”Drago” is 3-2 out of his last 5 heading into this matchup, with his 2 losses stemming from a late comeback KO by Derrick Lewis at UFC 229, and a decision loss to Curtis Blaydes at UFC Vegas 3. Blaydes used his overwhelming wrestling ability to take Volkov down again and again to sway the judges.

Overeem vs Volkov could play out similar to this if Alexander can’t stay on his feet this time around. On the winning side of the 3-2 equation; we have wins over Fabricio Werdum, Greg Hardy, and most recently at UFC 254, a TKO victory over Walt Harris. Via a beautiful body kick that led to the flurry of strikes that landed Volkov the win.

A professional since 2009, “Drago” has fought under a lot of different promotional banners. Most notably, Bellator and M-1. He made his UFC debut in 2017 at UFC Fight Night 99 and was victorious over Timothy Johnson via decision. In his 8 fight UFC career, he has also achieved wins over Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve, and previously mentioned wins over Werdum, Hardy, and Harris.

Overeem vs Volkov Keys to Victory

Alistair Overeem

”The Demolition Man” has been evolving his entire career. From a predominantly kickboxing heavy base to a now ultimately well-rounded skill set that truly encompasses the meaning of Mixed Martial Artist. For Overeem vs Volkov, he should basically know what to expect. While the style and gameplan of Overeem change from fight to fight; his opponent basically has one style and a set of great skills to complement it.

Facing a long-range kickboxer who backs his opponents up against the cage and controls the center of the octagon, a key for Alistair will be to utilize his footwork and circle effectively or even be the one to pressure/advance. Putting “Drago” on his back foot could lead to some wrestling opportunities for Overeem leading to two more keys to victory. Clinching Volkov against the cage/ Working the takedowns.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 05: (R-L) Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands elbows Augusto Sakai of Brazil in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 05, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Putting the long-limbed Alexander Volkov against the cage would annihilate any reach advantage and take away a lot of the risks of playing the “long game” with “Drago”. This would open up opportunities for “The Demolition Man” to work his nasty elbows and knees as well.

Also, joining Curtis Blaydes at Elevation Fight Team showed some remarkable improvement in the ground and pound of Overeem, as we saw during the Augusto Sakai fight. So, attempting to get the fight to the ground makes tons of sense for Overeem vs Volkov.

Alexander Volkov

For Volkov vs Overeem, something that jumps out right away for me is the difference in Strikes Landed Per Minute on paper. Volkov comes into this fight averaging 4.76, while Overeem lands slightly less at 3.71. So a key should be to have more output than Alistair. I’m also curious to see if “Drago” will throw his teeps and roundhouses to the body at a regular rate this fight, or if he will be fearful of an Alistair Overeem takedown and throw less or even none at all.

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 24: (L-R) Alexander Volkov of Russia punches Walt Harris in their heavyweight bout during the UFC 254 event on October 24, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A huge key in this fight will be defending takedowns against the cage. In the middle of the octagon; the Overeem vs Volkov fight stands its best chances at reaching the ground. Against the fence, a tall fighter like Alexander can much more easily stay on his feet; given his long limbs. That’s not me saying that “Drago” should let himself be pinned up against the cage by Overeem, but instead attempt to reach the cage in wrestling scenarios to get his back to it and defend the takedown before ideally taking the center of the octagon or circling off the cage.

With that being said, the Overeem vs Volkov fight is that easy for Alexander. I think if he can defend the takedown, and manage to fight his fight, this is a winnable matchup for him. Having a higher output doesn’t mean he will land more than Overeem though, with ‘Reem carrying a 64% striking accuracy to Volkov’s 58%. With that being said though, stats don’t really carry much weight in this sport, as far as how things will really play out.

Overeem vs Volkov Prediction: The Final Run Continues!

While I like the chances of Volkov, I can’t go against Overeem here. He’s fighting for his legacy, his life’s work. This last run is truly a beautiful one so far, and I think this is the most dangerous version of “The Demolition Man” we’ve ever seen.

While still possessing his famed power and athleticism, not to mention his legendary striking, we’ve now seen his grappling grow and blossom. Making him one truly well rounded and deadly man to face. I just think Alistair Overeem has more tools than Alexander Volkov. I believe he finishes this one in the 4th round by ground and pound TKO!


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