UFC Vegas 18 launched Alexander Volkov and Cory Sandhagen closer to title shots after they each scored impressive victories on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Alexander Volkov makes statement with knockout of Alistair Overeem
Overeem started in a crouch in the UFC Vegas 18 main event, giving Volkov less of a target. The two danced around for the opening couple of minutes before Overeem cracked Volkov with two hard overhand left punches.
Volkov was pressing forward earlier in the round, but a third overhand from Overeem slowed his momentum.
Three minutes into the first round and Overeem had edged ahead, landing an uppercut and a body kick before Volkov abruptly knocked him to the canvas. Overeem covered to weather a few shots from Volkov, but the exchange ignited the Russian.
Back on their feet, Volkov pressed forward and cracked Overeem with a hard shot that backed him into the fence. Overeem danced away, but Volkov kept pressing. He landed numerous punches in the waning moments of the round, Overeem giving up the advantage he seemed to have earlier in the frame.
Overeem again started low, but little more than a minute into the round, he ate several hard punch combinations, Volkov bloodying and staggering him. Two minutes into the round, Volkov landed a left hand to the temple that sent Overeem reeling to the mat.
The referee immediately stepped in to save Overeem from any further punishment.
Shortly after the stoppage, Overeem was still on his knees on the canvas. Volkov, in a tremendous show of respect, joined him, putting his arm around the man that he had once considered an inspiration.
It was the most impressive victory of Volkov’s career, following a finish of Walt Harris at UFC 254 in October. Ranked No. 6 coming into the fight, knocking out the No. 5 ranked heavyweight in Overeem, Volkov has put himself in a position of being just one or two victories away from a title shot, and he knows it.
“It’s my time,” said Volkov after the fight. “I want to fight for the belt for sure. But we’ll see, we’ll have some good fights in the future. We’ll see who is on my plate. But I surely want to take title shot.”
Cory Sandhagen lays Frankie Edgar out cold with a flying knee
The co-main event was one of the most anticipated fights on the card, but it lasted just 28 seconds.
Fans expected a war between Cory Sandhagen and Frankie Edgar in a battle for a shot at the UFC bantamweight belt wrapped around Petr Yan’s waist.
Yan is currently focused on Aljamain Sterling, who is his next defense, but he better have been paying attention to Sandhagen, who knocked Edgar out with a flying knee before the fight had really gotten underway.
“I was excited to show off my wrestling skills because everyone knows I suck at that, but I’ll take that,” Sandhagen said after the fight. “I don’t want to watch that happen to (Edgar), but better him than me. That’s the game we’re in.”
Though Sandhagen has a loss to Sterling on his record, it’s his lone loss in his last 10 bouts. He now believes he’s got the tools to take out either Yan or Sterling.
“I’m a different monster than when I fought Aljamain Sterling. He taught me some lessons. I know Yan is talking about fight TJ (Dillashaw) after that fight, if he even wins that fight. That’s garbage to me,” Sandhagen said.
“Fight me. I’m the next toughest guy next to Aljamain. If Aljamain wins, I owe him a nap. And he’s gonna get that nap. The winner of those two gets knocked out by me in July.”
Clay Guida grinds out a win over Michael Johnson
Neither Clay Guida nor Michael Johnson was anywhere near a title shot with a victory at UFC Vegas 18. They were both at the opposite end of the spectrum, fighting for UFC survival.
It was Guida who ground out a vintage performance. The two went toe-to-toe for all three rounds, but it was Guida’s pressure and takedowns that separated them.
Guida put a punctuation mark on the fight with a takedown late in the third round, where he locked on a rear-naked choke. He couldn’t sink the finish, but he dominated the final moments of the bout, securing a unanimous decision victory.
The win ended a two-bout skid for Guida, but put Johnson in a perilous position, as he lost his fourth consecutive fight.
UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs. Volkov results
UFC Vegas 18 Main Card
- Main Event – Heavyweight Bout: Alexander Volkov def. Alistair Overeem by TKO (punches) at 2:06, R2
- Co-Main Event – Bantamweight Bout: Cory Sandhagen def Frankie Edgar by KO (flying knee) at 0:28, R1
- Lightweight Bout: Clay Guida def Michael Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Flyweight Bout: Alexandre Pantoja def Manel Kape by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Lightweight Bout: Beneil Dariush def Diego Ferreira by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Light Heavyweight Bout: Danilo Marques def Mike Rodriguez by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:52, R2
UFC Vegas 18 Prelims
- Featherweight Bout: Timur Valiev def Martin Day by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
- Catchweight Bout (160-lb): Devonte Smith def Justin Jaynes by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 3:38, R2
- Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Karol Rosa def Joselyne Edwards by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Women’s Flyweight Bout: Lara Procopio def Molly McCann by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-27)
- Featherweight Bout: Seungwoo Choi def Youssef Zalal by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Featherweight Bout: Ode Osbourne def Jerome Rivera by KO (punches) at 0:26, R1