Volkov-Pavlovich bout is co-main event in UFC Fight Night

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Volkov-Pavlovich bout is co-main event in UFC Fight Night
Alexander Volkov lands a punch on Tai Tuivasa.

MANILA, Philippines – In a perfect world, Alexander Volkov is the only Russian fighter in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Not that he is selfish. But as much as mixed martial arts is not a sport among countries, it is a brutal combat sport where one has to win to continue working in the top leagues.

To put it in Volkov’s terms, “I have a family to provide for so it is every man for himself, whether fellow Russian or not.”

For the first time since Volkov (37-10-0) fought in Russian MMA promotion M-1 back in 2016, he will take on a compatriot in Sergei Pavlovich (18-2-0), who is in the Top Five rankings of the UFC’s heavyweight division — and the only one has not taken on.

Unfortunately for Volkov, outside reigning champion Jon Jones, he has taken on all those ranked ahead of him — Tom Aspinall, Cyril Gane and Curtis Blaydes — and he has lost all of them.

“Hopefully, we reverse the trend this Sunday,” he quipped.

UFC Fight Night Whittaker-Aliskerov will take place Sunday, June 23, at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It will be the first time for this oil-rich nation to host a UFC event.  

The middleweight bout between Australian Robert Whittaker and Russian Ikram Aliskerov takes center stage with the Volkov-Pavlovich match the co-main event.

“It’s a big match,” deadpanned Volkov. Pavlovich is very familiar to him as both were previously sparring partners on their way up mixed martial arts’ biggest stage. But there is no time for sentiment in fights like this. Pavlovich is three years Volkov’s junior and the latter knows his time inside the cage isn’t forever. 

Alex is on a three-match win streak, which is impressive for he has taken out Tai Tuivasa in the second round, and Alexander Romanov and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the first round. 

Prior to that and the Aspinall loss, he was going the distance or fighting deep into the rounds. Volkov pointed to a new approach where he’d like to do some major damage in the early rounds rather than wear an opponent down.

“Even at my age, I can learn new tricks,” he succinctly put. 
This battle against Pavlovich is huge. A win could put him on another collision course with Aspinall, who is the interim champion with Jones out recuperating from a pectoral tendon injury.

Only once in his long career has Volkov suffered a two-match losing streak. With every loss, he immediately bounced back and went on a tear. 

Pavlovich put the fear of God in many foes after he knocked out six foes in succession. However, when he took on Aspinall in UFC 295, it was the Russian who was kayoed in the first round by the Briton. 

Now, the world will learn that in addition to his serious knockout power his powers of recuperation. Volkov said that his approach to a loss isn’t exactly a loss, but a time to learn.

This Sunday, there is so much to find out when these two big Russian powerhouses collide.

UFC Fight Night Whittaker-Aliskerov will be televised live in the Philippines via the Premier Sports channel on SkyCable and Cignal as well as streaming application Blast TV. The preliminary rounds are scheduled for midnight and the main round is at 3:30 a.m.

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