A pair of top ten ranked heavyweights headlined UFC Fight Night 115 in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Saturday. Alexander Volkov extended his winning streak to five consecutive fights by finishing Stefan Struve in the third round.
The two were evenly matched and had a back and forth battle before the end came. Volkov employed leg kicks in the early going while Struve worked his jab. Midway through the opening round, Struve jumped in with a flying knee the opened up a sizeable cut beneath Volkov’s left eye. Volkov quickly took Struve down and ended the round landing punches and elbows.
The second round was temporarily halted twice by accidental eye pokes by Struve. The referee warned him that if it happened again a point would be deducted. Despite the eye pokes, Volkov rallied in the round and his right hand began to find a home. He snapped Struve’s head back several times in the frame.
Both fighters were showing damage heading into the third round. A double eye poke caused the referee to talk to both fighters about keeping their hands closed. When the fight was resumed, Volkov picked up the pace. His right hand began landing regularly. He backed Struve up with punches and delivered a combination that sat Struve down. After a series of right hands followed, the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
“We were too alike and fighting the same style. The problem was to change that because the usual stuff didn’t work. But as I promised, in the third round I finished the fight,” said the Russian following the TKO win.
Struve took the loss with dignity and praised Volkov after the fight.
“He was just the better man today. He wanted it more and he landed the bigger shots. It’s as simple as that,” said Struve after the loss. “He was the better man today. Big ups to him for beating me over here and TKOing me in the third round.”
With the win, “Drago” will likely move up in the heavyweight rankings. He entered the bout listed at No. 8 while Struve was ranked No. 7. Volkov didn’t call out a specific opponent that he’d like to fight next, but indicated that he wants to continue his climb up the heavyweight ladder.