UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in London.
Updated: March 14, 2018 • 12:27 PM ET
Fabricio Werdum (left) is attempting to get the heavyweight title back.
UFC Fight Night’s long-awaited return to London will take place this Saturday, and it will feature a heavyweight fight between a former champion and a fighter looking to make a major move up the division’s rankings.
No. 3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum will take on No. 8 Alexander Volkov and regardless of who wins, the fight will shake up the heavyweight rankings. Werdum is riding a two-fight winning streak and at 40 years old, he could still be one victory away from another shot at the title he used to call his own. He collected a submission victory over Walt Harris in October and a unanimous decision win over Marcin Tybura in November.
Werdum is 3-2 since winning the undisputed title at UFC 188 in June 2015. One of the two losses was a questionable decision loss to Alistair Overeem that looked more like a draw at UFC 213 last July. A win on Saturday could get Werdum a fight with the winner between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title, which he wants.
“My next move depends on this fight,” Werdum told AG Fight last week. “Of course I would like to fight Stipe Miocic or Daniel Cormier, no matter who it is. The important thing is to fight for the title, which is my goal, for the third time. I already fought for the belt twice and I was lucky to become the champion twice, but I don’t want to wait around for too long.
“If the UFC tells me I’m next, I’ll go straight for the belt. But if I have to wait, then I’ll take another fight. I want to fight, I don’t want to stand still. I know my opportunity will come. I believe I’ll still be champion this year.”
However, the Brazilian won’t be looking past his Russian opponent on Saturday.
“Volkov is a really dangerous guy,” Werdum said. “He has been showing that not only in the UFC, but for a while now. He was a Bellator champion, if I’m not mistaken.
“He’s great reach and is really, really tall. He’s a real heavyweight. He has great muay thai, but lacks ground skills. You can’t compare his stand-up with his grappling. His striking is very refined, so you must be careful. I’ll fight smart, because he’s a good fighter.”
Volkov represents new blood in an old division. The 6-foot-7, 29-year-old Volkov is 3-0 in the UFC with his last fight resulting in a third round TKO of Stefan Struve in September. He also has victories over Timothy Johnson and Roy Nelson, but a win over Werdum would without a doubt be a career-changing victory for Volkov.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a light heavyweight fight between No. 4 Jimi Manuwa and No. 11 Jan Blachowicz, a rematch of their 2015 matchup that was a unanimous decision victory for Manuwa.
Manuwa is 2-2 since that first fight, looking great in the victories and bad in the losses. His last fight was a quick, first-round knockout loss to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 in July. Manuwa has hung around the top five of the division for some time now, but he can’t afford another bad loss. A win would put him back on track for a title shot, while a loss may remove the 38-year-old from the title picture all together.
Blachowicz is 2-2 in his last four fights, coming off two straight victories over Jared Cannonier and Devin Clark, respectively. The 35-year-old from Poland is looking for a win that would send him into the top 10 of the rankings, and Manuwa represents that kind of victory.
The rest of the main card
Also on the main card will be a bantamweight fight between Tom Duquesnoy and Terrion Ware. Duquesnoy is 1-1 in the UFC, coming off a split decision loss to Cody Stamann in October. Ware is 0-2 in the UFC, losing his last fight by unanimous decision to Sean O’Malley in December.
Rounding out the main card will be a welterweight fight between No. 15 Leon Edwards and Peter Sobotta. Fighting out of Birmingham, England, Edwards is on a four-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Bryan Barberena via unanimous decision in September. Overall, Edwards is 6-2 in the UFC. Sobotta is riding a two-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Ben Saunders by second round knockout in May.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Middleweight fight - John Phillips vs. Charles Byrd
Welterweight fight - Danny Roberts vs. Oliver Enkamp
Middleweight fight - Jack Marshman vs. Bradley Scott
Featherweight fight - Danny Henry vs. Hakeem Dawodu
Light heavyweight - Paul Craig vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Lightweight fight - Stevie Ray vs. Kajan Johnson
Heavyweight fight - Mark Godbeer vs. Dmitry Sosnovskiy
Lightweight fight - Nasrat Haqparast vs. Nad Narimani