UFC Fight Night Report: Curtis Blaydes dominates Alexander Volkov
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night the UFC held its fourth card at the empty UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by heavyweight contenders, Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov. Blaydes came into this fight riding a three-fight win streak, which included a second-round TKO of Junior dos Santos earlier this year. Volkov returned to the octagon with a decision win over Greg Hardy last November, after an undisclosed injury that kept him out of action for the majority of 2019. Both fighters have been very successful thus far into their UFC runs, and a win here would certainly boost their respective cases for a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In the co-main event, explosive featherweights Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos met in a fight that was guaranteed to entertain.
Commentary for this card was provided by Jon Anik, alongside Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Justin Jaynes and Jim Miller. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos.
*Austin Hubbard def. Max Rohskopf by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2
*Lauren Murphy def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Justin Jaynes def. Frank Camacho by TKO at 0:41 of Round 1
*Gillian Robertson def. Cortney Casey by rear-naked choke at 4:32 of Round 3
*Marc-Andre Barriault def. Oskar Piechota by TKO at 4:50 of Round 2
*Tecia Torres def. Brianna Van Buren by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Bobby Green def. Clay Guida by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Jim Miller def. Roosevelt Roberts by armbar at 2:25 of Round 1
*Belal Muhammad def. Lyman Good by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Raquel Pennington def. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Josh Emmett def. Shane Burgos by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
*Curtis Blaydes def. Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-46)
AUSTIN HUBBARD (11-4, 156) VS MAX ROHSKOPF (5-0, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
After feeling each other out on the feet for the first minute and a half of the round, Rohskopf began to heavily pursue the takedown. Hubbard landed a nice knee to the body in a scramble, but Rohskopf took him right back down and searched for a kneebar. Hubbard defended the submission attempt and returned to the feet. He had some success, landing a couple of right hands and low kicks before the round finished.
Rohskopf brought him right back down to begin the second. It did not take Hubbard long to escape back to the feet and continue to piece Rohskopf up in the striking department. Hubbard landed a big right hand, and Rohskopf was begging to slow down considerably at this point. Hubbard’s right hand just kept landing, and Rohskopf didn’t really have any answers for it. Hubbard opened up a cut near the left eye of Rohskopf. He was mixing in his shots to the body well too. Very dominant round for Hubbard, a 10-8 in my opinion.
Rohskopf was clearly done between rounds, but his corner did their best to force him back out there. Referee Mark Smith walked over and asked Rohskopf if he wanted to continue, and Rohskopf said no.
WINNER: Austin Hubbard by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2
The first round was competitive, but the second was complete domination. Rohskopf was clearly limited on the feet and was gassed by the end of the second. It appeared as though the doctor overhead Rohskopf’s conversation with his corner, which was good because if Mark Smith didn’t step in there and asked Hubbard if he wanted to continue, his corner was sending him back for another round regardless of what he was telling them. Hubbard is now 2-2 in the UFC.
ROXANNE MODAFFERI (24-17, 125.5) VS LAUREN MURPHY (12-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Murphy utilized low kicks in the opening round, something that has become very common in modern-day MMA. Modafferi pressed her against the cage for a short period but was not able to do much with it. Murphey had some success with her jab as Modafferi marched forward. They both landed a couple of straights rights throughout the round, but Murphy’s had a bit more pop behind them, and she took the first round on my scorecard.
Modafferi was wobbled badly by a right hand from Murphy, but she could not capitalize on the moment, and Modafferi recovered. Modafferi eventually began to search for a takedown once more, but instead, it was Murphy who managed to take Roxanne down and momentarily took her back. When Modafferi worked her way back into an advantageous position, Murphy got right back up. 20-18 for Lauren Murphy going into the final round.
Modafferi landed a Paul Felder style elbow in the first minute of the third as Murphy moved forward. The straight right from Lauren Murphy continued to back Roxanne off whenever she got overly aggressive, but Modafferi eventually blitzed forward and brought the fight back to the fence. Murphy worked her way off the cage but ate a notable right hand from Modafferi. They exchanged 1-2’s, but Murphy was getting the better of the exchanges and ended the round with a takedown. I scored the fight 30-27 for Lauren Murphy.
WINNER: Lauren Murphy by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I thought Murphy looked good here, and she had a clear advantage in the power department that really shut down most of Modafferi’s offense. She has now won three fights in a row, which is notable in a challenger starved division such as flyweight, and one more win (preferably over a top-five opponent) would probably be enough to get her in line for a title shot.
FRANK CAMACHO (22-8, 158) VS JUSTIN JAYNES (15-4, 156) – WELTERWEIGHT
Camacho missed weight by two pounds. His original opponent, Matt Frevola, was pulled from the card earlier this week after one of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.
Jaynes came out of the gates swinging and knocked Camacho down with a pair of left hooks. Camacho got up, but he was hurt bad, and Jaynes just kept swinging wildly, and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight as Camacho was taking shot after shot against the cage.
WINNER: Justin Jaynes by TKO at 0:41 of Round 1
Jaynes took this fight on just a few days’ notice, and Jaynes just came out firing, perhaps with the knowledge that he wouldn’t have the cardio to go fifteen minutes. This really couldn’t of went any better for Jaynes, who was not even on the UFC roster this time last week.
CORTNEY CASEY (9-7, 123.5) VS GILLIAN ROBERTSON (7-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Robertson got an easy takedown early in the first. She passed to half guard and transitioned to side control. She moved back into half guard as she attempted to pass into top mount, but could not move into the more dominant position. Casey was doing a good job of keeping Robertson from going where she wanted to, but Robertson kept beating her in the scrambles to maintain her top position. 10-9 Robertson.
Into the second, Casey landed a beautiful four-punch combination but was promptly taken down once more. After about a minute of control from Robertson, Casey attempted an armbar from the bottom but was unable to really get the positioning for it. The rest of the round looked more or less the same as the first, and Robertson was pretty clearly up on the scorecards going into the final round.
Casey was able to keep it on the feet a bit longer in the third, but Robertson succeeded in bringing the fight to the ground yet again. With three minutes to work, Robertson continued to pressure Casey, eventually taking her back and finishing the fight with a rear-naked choke.
WINNER: Gillian Robertson by rear-naked choke at 4:32 of Round 3
This was a very dominant performance from Gillian Robertson, who had no trouble taking Casey down and keeping her there throughout the fight. She had one takedown each round, and every time she took Casey down, Casey never got back up. She is now 5-3 in the UFC, and every single one of her fights has ended in a finish.
MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT (11-4, 185.5) VS OSKAR PIECHOTA (11-3-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Barriault put the pressure on early, looking for big right hooks. Piechota landed an uppercut. Piechota was finding success landing counterstrikes as Barriault moved forward, but there were moments where the pressure seemed to be overwhelming him. Barriault connected with some big uppercuts against the cage, and by the final minute of the round, he was having a ton of success landing uppercuts and elbows in clinch exchanges. Barriault hurt Piechota near the end of the round with some hammer fists after he sprawled on a takedown attempt. 10-9 Barriault.
Barriault kept the pressure up in the second, but Piechota’s counterstriking was looking sharp early. He landed an uppercut as Barriault shot in for a double leg, but the takedown was completed regardless. After a brief period of control, Piechota escaped to his feet. Barriault continued to find success with his uppercut from the clinch. Piechota kept throwing the uppercut, and he eventually dropped Piechota with a barrage of them, and he kept attacking until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Marc-Andre Barriault by TKO at 4:50 of Round 2
The story of this fight was Barriault’s pressure. There wasn’t a second where he wasn’t marching forward, looking for that big shot that would put Piechota away. Piechota had his moments, landing some decent counter strikes, but when Barriault really started to get going from the clinch, Piechota didn’t have an answer. This was a huge win for Barriault, who lost his first three fights in the UFC.
TECIA TORRES (10-5, 116) VS BRIANNA VAN BUREN (9-2, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Torres fired off a number of low kicks in the opening seconds of the round, and in response, Van Buren began to pursue the takedown, eventually securing it, but Torres popped right back up. Van Buren racked up a lot of control time against the cage throughout this round. Torres connected with a head kick and a follow up right hand, but whenever Torres got anything off throughout the round, Van Buren would clinch her up. Van Buren ended the round with a last-second takedown. Despite the control time, I actually gave the round to Torres based on her striking, but it was a close round.
Torres turned up the pressure early in the second. She was mixing up her strikes to the head and the body, and it was overwhelming Van Buren. Van Buren brought the fight back to the fence and was able to snuff out some of the momentum that Torres had built up earlier in the round. When they separated, however, Torres got right back to it, and her speed was a serious problem for Van Buren. 20-18 Torres, on my scorecard.
The third round continued where the second left off, with Torres really overwhelming Van Buren on the feet. She connected with a number of hard kicks to the body in rapid succession. Van Buren brought Torres back to the cage and landed a pair of solid elbows, but was unable to secure a takedown. I scored this fight 30-27 for Tecia Torres.
WINNER: Tecia Torres by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was an excellent performance from Tecia Torres. She’s had a rough couple years against a murders row of opponents, and she really needed this performance. I feel like I overused the word, but she really overwhelmed Van Buren here. Her striking output, speed, and accuracy, were unreal at times. Van Buren had her moments, but the difference is striking ability was the difference maker here. She is now 7-5 in the UFC.
CLAY GUIDA (35-19, 154.5) VS BOBBY GREEN (24-10-1, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Bobby Green was showboating early, landing his jab while defending takedown attempts from Guida. Guida eventually succeeded with a big slam, but Green got right back. Guida began to work some low kicks into his offense. They exchanged straight right hands. Guida got another big slam takedown, and while he couldn’t keep Green down for long, he did keep the pressure on against the cage for the remainder of the round. Super close round, but I gave the edge to Guida.
Green landed a knee to the body of Guida as he moved forward, and followed it up with a front kick to the face. Green kept letting loose with those knees, and he continued to attack the body of Guida throughout the round. Guida continued to pursue the takedown throughout the round, but Green was doing a fantastic job of keeping Guida off him. This round was all Green. 19-19 going into the final round.
Guida knew he had to bring this fight to the ground to win this last round and was really smothering Green here. Nonetheless, Green was landing much more strikes throughout the round and defended the vast majority of Guida’s attempts. It was another close round, but I thought Green took it.
WINNER: Bobby Green by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
A close fight, but one where Bobby Green definitely looked like the better fighter. He had the obvious edge on the feet and did a great job defensively throughout the fight. Guida was most successful when he was pressuring Green against the cage, and he racked up some control time, but just didn’t have the striking numbers or the takedowns to pick up the win. Green is now 6-5-1 in the UFC.
JIM MILLER (31-14-1, 159.5) VS ROOSEVELT ROBERTS (10-1, 160) – CATCHWEIGHT
Miller caught one of the first kicks Roberts threw and threw a low kick that tripped Roberts. Miller immediately followed him to the ground and transitioned to half guard. As Roberts tried to scramble out of the position, Miller caught him with an armbar, and Roberts verbally submitted.
WINNER: Jim Miller by armbar at 2:25 of Round 1
With this win, Miller moved into sole possession of the third-most wins in UFC history (behind Donald Cerrone and Demian Maia). He also moved into third all-time for most submission finishes in UFC history (behind Charles Olivera, Demian Maia, and tied with Royce Gracie). He continues to be an entertaining fighter late into his career and has won three of his last four fights.
BELAL MUHAMMAD (16-3, 170.5) VS LYMAN GOOD (21-5, 1 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
These guys were throwing heavy hands early. Good was pressing forward, and Muhammad was doing a good job of circling and switching stances to keep Good off of him while landing the bigger shots. Good landed a solid straight right, which was probably his best shot of the round. Nonetheless, 10-9 Muhammad.
Belal threw an uppercut and followed it up with a takedown attempt that Good defended. Good was firing off one shot at a time, and Muhammad just seemed like he was constantly a step ahead with his movement. There was a moment where Good connected with a pair of huge shots against the cage, but Muhammed just ate them and continued to circle. Belal was bleeding significantly around his right eye by the end of the round. This was a very close round, but I scored it for Muhammed based on his output.
Early in the third round, Good landed a pair of huge punches that dropped Muhammad. Things were looking bad for Belal, but he shot for a takedown that saved him. This fight was turning into a brawl, which definitely suited Good. Every shot Good was landing in this round looked brutal, but Muhammad didn’t let it phase him, and he kept in the fight, eventually slowing Good down with another takedown attempt. With thirty seconds left, Belal took Good’s back and searched for a rear-naked choke. He didn’t find it, and the fight went to the scorecards. I scored it 29-28 for Muhammad.
WINNER: Belal Muhammad by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was an entertaining fight, especially the third round, where Good really got going. It was too little too late for Lyman Good, however, and Belal Muhammad picked up the hard-fought win. He looked better than he ever has here and showed a ton of toughness in that final round. Muhammad called out Santiago Ponzinibbio in his post-fight interview and took a jab at Rafael dos Anjos. He is currently on a three-fight win streak.
RAQUEL PENNINGTON (10-9, 136) VS MARION RENEAU (9-5-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
They exchanged jabs and 1-2’s to start the fight. Pennington threw a clever left hook behind a jab. They spent a decent part of the round battling against the cage, in which Reneau eventually gained the advantage. She couldn’t get the takedown, and Pennington connected with some good knees to the body. Late in the round, Reneau landed a number of strikes that gave her the edge in a very close round on my scorecard.
The fight returned to the cage, and Reneau landed a hard knee low. As a result, the fight was paused while Pennington recovered. Pennington flurried forward as the action resumed, but Reneau pushed her back against the cage. Pennington continued to utilize knees to the body and reversed the position. Pennington’s knees to the body, often with her back to the fence, were super impressive throughout the fight, and she landed a ton of them this round. This was a good round for Pennington, and I had it tied up going into the third.
Reneau started the third round with a takedown attempt that Pennington worked hard to defend, and they returned to the clinch against the cage. Raquel landed a right hand that backed Reneau up, and mixed in an elbow, before returning to the Thai clinch. Pennington was really starting to run away with this fight but began to pursue the takedown, which Reneau defended. They eventually separated, and Pennington’s boxing was just too much for Reneau by this point in the fight, landing a series of solid hooks. I scored the fight 29-28 for Raquel Pennington.
WINNER: Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
It was a close fight early on, but by the second round, Pennington really pulled ahead. She landed an absurd number of knees to the body throughout the fight, and they certainly added up by the final round. In her post-fight interview, she expressed her interest in fighting on the same card as her partner, Tecia Torres, again in the future. She is now 2-3 in her last five fights.
JOSH EMMETT (15-2, 146) VS SHANE BURGOS (13-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Emmett was throwing and connecting with some bombs in the first minute, but Burgos wasn’t reacting to any of them. Emmett kept throwing the right hand, and it was continuously landing throughout the first round. Burgos began to pick Emmett apart with kicks to the leg and mixed things up by going to the body as well. By the end of the round, Emmett’s right leg was beaten up, but he landed so many big shots throughout the round it was hard not to score it for him. Fantastic opening round. 10-9 Emmett.
Burgos went right back to attacking that leg. Emmett blitzed forward, landing some looping hooks, but Burgos continued to show off his chin, and casually resumed his attack. He landed an inside low kick, and at this point, it was hard to say how many more kicks to the leg Emmett had left in him. It was impossible to keep up with how many huge strikes both these guys were landing, but this round was razor close. I thought Burgos’s low kicks were the difference-maker, but this round was amazing, and could of went either way. 19-19 going into the third.
Emmett dropped Burgos with a jab and followed him to the ground. Burgos went down, but was not rocked badly, and escaped to his feet after about a minute. Burgos accidentally landed low on an inside kick, and the action was paused. When the action resumed, the pace of the fight did not drop at all. Emmett dropped Burgos one more time with an overhead left, and somehow Burgos recovered once more, returning to his feet and pressing forward. Emmett landed another bomb as Burgos moved forward, and he kept on his feet. Unbelievable. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 29-27 Emmett.
WINNER: Josh Emmett by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
This was an amazing, amazing, amazing fight. I could not believe that Burgos survived some of the strikes Emmett was landing, and conversely, Emmett showed a ton of heart by fighting through those low kicks that he was clearly feeling. In a year where Zhang/Jędrzejczyk didn’t happen, this would likely be the fight of the year frontrunner. If you missed this card, definitely go out of your way to check this one out. With this win, Emmett is 6-2 in the UFC.
CURTIS BLAYDES (13-2, 1 NC, 261) VS ALEXANDER VOLKOV (31-7, 247) – HEAVYWEIGHT
It took Blaydes five seconds to shoot for, and succeed, on his first takedown attempt. Volkov got up, but Blaydes took him right back down. This sequence repeated himself, and Blaydes racked up four takedowns in the opening half of the first round. Volkov actually attempted a kimura at one point, but that just began a sequence that led to him getting taken down one last time. This round was pure domination from Curtis Blaydes.
Blaydes came out swinging in the second round and was landing at will. Once Volkov was thinking about the hands of Blaydes, he immediately got taken back down to the ground. He worked his way up and was taken right back down, this time in the center of the octagon. Blaydes began to unload with elbows late in the round, and once again, there was no question who won this round.
Volkov finally defended a pair of takedowns from Blaydes to begin the third, but Blaydes succeeded on his third attempt. Blaydes smothered him for a while, and eventually took his back. 30-26 Blaydes.
Volkov began the round with a kick to the body, and to the immense surprise of everybody watching this fight, was taken down. He made his way back to the feet yet again and fended off a pair of takedown attempts from Blaydes. Volkov landed a decent uppercut and was taken down yet again as Curtis Blaydes set a new heavyweight record. They were eventually stood up and Volkov flurried forward, landing some decent strikes, and actually took Blaydes down! Nonetheless, another round for Curtis Blaydes.
Blaydes was looking tired in the final round and ate a head kick as he moved forward. Volkov looked like the fresher fighter, but Blaydes still had enough gas in the tank to take Volkov down. Volkov returned to the feet with two and a half minutes remaining. Blaydes shot for another takedown, and Volkov managed to defend it, but while he was busy fending Blaydes off, time was ticking. Blaydes eventually got him to the ground one last time and secured the win. I scored the fight 49-45 for Curtis Blaydes.
WINNER: Curtis Blaydes by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-46)
No one is going to say this was an exciting fight, but this was a very dominant performance for Curtis Blaydes, who took Volkov down at will throughout the first three rounds. Rounds four and five were closer as Blaydes tired, but he still had it in him to take Volkov down when he needed it the most. He is in a very strange place in the division, where he is a legitimate top contender, but his two losses to Francis Ngannou mean that there is no guarantee that he’ll be looking at a title shot anytime soon. I think Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier are far and away from the most interesting opponents for Blaydes right now, but he’s not going to pass Ngannou for a shot at gold. I predict we’ll see him in another non-title bout for his next fight.