Surging heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov scored the biggest win of his career Saturday when he knocked out former champion Fabricio Werdum in the fourth round of their UFC Fight Night main event at London’s O2 Arena.
Volkov (30-6) dropped Werdum with punches near the fence and finished the bout with follow-up strikes. Referee Marc Goddard officially stopped the contest at the 1:38 mark.
Volkov is 4-0 since signing with the UFC in 2016. He has built a strong case to face the winner of a heavyweight title fight in July between defending champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
“Of course, it was a great win,” Volkov said. “Fabricio Werdum is a legend of our sport. I am coming right now. I am waiting on a title shot. I will wait for this. I am here for this.
“It doesn’t matter who it will be. I want the title shot. Maybe Cormier, maybe Miocic. Who knows? I am here for the belt.”
It was a well-rounded, composed performance by Volkov, who previously trained with Werdum. Volkov allowed Werdum, a submission specialist, to take him down in the first and second rounds but did not panic when it happened.
At 6-foot-7, Volkov took advantage of his height and lanky frame, forcing Werdum to shoot from the outside. He caught Werdum coming in with a right uppercut in the first round. In the third round, he caught Werdum with a well-timed combination in the center of the cage that opened a cut under Werdum’s right eye.
Werdum’s takedown attempts began to slow by the third round. He resorted to rolling for Volkov’s legs, trying to create a scramble any way he could.
In the fourth, after failing to entice Volkov to the ground, Werdum went for broke. He aggressively went after Volkov with a flurry, which opened him up to counterpunches and eventually the finish. It was the 20th knockout win of Volkov’s career.
Werdum’s two-fight win streak was snapped. Since losing his title to Miocic in May 2016, he has gone 3-3.
Blachowicz evens score with Manuwa, sets up third fight
Blachowicz (22-7) suffered a decision loss to Manuwa (17-4) in 2015 but evened the score Saturday in a decision win of his own. All three judges had it for Blachowicz: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
The rematch was somewhat out of left field, considering that the first meeting was neither memorable nor controversial. Manuwa, 38, fights out of London, however, and wanted to perform in his hometown.
The result was an action-packed slugfest. Blachowicz, of Poland, relied heavily on counterpunching. He evaded Manuwa’s early aggression and dropped him with a left uppercut in the first round. Manuwa worked back to his feet and continued to move forward on Blachowicz — daring him to swing, even as he stood on unsteady legs.
Bleeding badly from the nose, Manuwa stiffened Blachowicz with a head kick in the second round but couldn’t secure a finish. The third was all Blachowicz, as he worked Manuwa over with the jab and stole a late takedown to seal the deal.
Blachowicz, 35, has now won three in a row. Manuwa was in line for a title shot in 2017 but has suffered back-to-back losses to Blachowicz and Volkan Oezdemir.
Edwards finishes Sobotta via TKO, calls out Till
Amazingly, it was the second bout at UFC Fight Night that ended in the final second of the last round. Earlier in the night, Scottish light heavyweight Paul Craig scored a late comeback against Magomed Ankalaev via submission.
Edwards, 26, dropped Sobotta with a right hand just 30 seconds into the bout. Outside of an effective jab and a pair of armbar submission attempts from the bottom, Sobotta, of Germany, failed to get much offense going.
Immediately after the result, Edwards called out Liverpudlian Darren Till, who is scheduled to headline a UFC Fight Night in May at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
“Me and you, Liverpool,” Edwards told Till, who calmly shook his head from the front row. “Let’s go. All day. Easy work. I’m the best welterweight in the U.K.”
French prospect Duquesnoy rebounds with decision victory
It was a difficult fight to score, as both bantamweights had success on their feet. According to Fightmetric, Ware outlanded Duquesnoy 116-85 in total strikes, but Duquesnoy appeared to land the more significant shots. All three judges certainly thought so and awarded Duquesnoy the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Leg kicks carried Duquesnoy’s offense. He utilized his footwork and lateral movement to move in and out of range and made a habit of peppering Ware’s lead leg with kicks. Ware ate the shots well, however, and even slapped his thigh with his own palms during the third round to show Duquesnoy that he wasn’t hurt.
Duquesnoy, 24, started to slow down a bit late, as Ware went to the body with punches and kept a steady pressure on. That wasn’t enough to steal the bout, however, and Ware, of California, fell to 0-3 in the UFC. Duquesnoy moved to 2-1.