The UFC returns after a month-long absence but does so with a whimper rather than a bang. The Octagon sets up shop in Rotterdam, Netherlands for a card highlighted by mid-tier heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Stefan Struve facing off.
The rest of the card is typical fare for a UFC event in Europe, as it features plenty of European and lower-tiers fighters that casual fans have never heard of.
Alexander Volkov vs Stefan Struve
Former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (-130) has grinded his way through his first two UFC fights, winning decisions in both. “Drago” stands six-foot-seven and uses his long frame to keep the fight on the outside. Distance striking is his bread and butter with a solid array of front kicks and straight punches. Volkov throws with a decent amount of volume but it’s his striking accuracy that makes him a handful to deal with. He does a good job at utilizing his height in the clinch game as well, mixing strikes to keep his opponent guessing.
Volkov has made plenty of strides in his defensive wrestling over the past few years and has been taken down just twice in 16 attempts in the UFC. However, once he does get taken down, the Russian doesn’t offer much. He can be controlled and suffocated by a competent wrestler without too much issue.
Stefan Struve (EVEN) is a ridiculously big human being. “Skyscraper” is an apt nickname for a guy who is seven feet tall and has an 84.5-inch reach. He has yet to utilize his length consistently in the striking game, but we have seen improvements in his usage of kicks. Patience is important as well because Struve has been drawn into brawls far too easily. It’s when the fight goes to the ground that Struve is truly dangerous. The Dutchman has 17 pro victories by way of submission and his lanky limbs create a difficult obstacle for any opponent.
The biggest issue facing Struve in his career has been his defense. He is all-in on offense and often leaves himself vulnerable to being hit or taken down. Wrestling is actually one of the worst parts of his game because of his size, as it’s difficult for him to get down to protect his legs.
Volkov’s striking gives us all a glimpse at what Struve’s should be. The Russian uses his length and size to keep his opponent at bay while chipping away at his defenses. Struve has flashed that but time and time again gets overly aggressive. This is really a measuring stick in the heavyweight division with the loser fading away and the Sportsbook looking at a step up in competition.
Other Notable Fights
UFC stalwart Marlon Reneau (-305) faces off against newcomer Talita de Oliveira (+235). Reneau is athletically gifted but doesn’t really show much else outstanding in her game. She looks to keep the fight standing where she can utilize her speed in the striking game. That being said, she is solid on the ground and can get work done if she’s on top. De Oliveira is taking this fight on short notice in place of Germaine de Randamie. Tape on the Brazilian is sparse, but she looks to be a good submission specialist who wants the fight on the mat. Once on top, she passes smoothly and throws strikes aggressively.
The main card opens with a pair of southpaw prospects facing off as Leon Edwards (-275) takes on Bryan Barberena (+215). Edwards is primarily a striker who throws with serious power but simply doesn’t work enough. If he were to work a faster pace in the striking game, he could be an overwhelming and devastating striker. Barberena makes up for his awkward striking style with an unending barrage of pressure. When he can get his hands on his opponent along the cage, he suffocates and abuses them.