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Alexander Volkov Can See His Path To The Title

Russian Heavyweight Contender Alexander Volkov Has His Mind Set On UFC Gold At UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov

Alexander Volkov is familiar with the spot he currently occupies. One more big win, and he has a strong case for a shot at the heavyweight title. In similar spots, though, he has come up short. First was a stunning last-second knockout loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 229, and the second came against Curtis Blaydes in a bout that was mostly one-way traffic about a year ago. 

And yet, two straight knockout wins have Volkov back in the title picture with a signature victory to be had as he headlines his fifth UFC Fight Night card against the undefeated Ciryl Gane.

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“I grew a lot, especially off my losses,” Volkov told UFC.com. “All losses push me and motivate me to grow, to work hard, to do everything to remove every obstacle in my life that is in my way to the belt, so I’m just training hard every day and going for the belt.”

Fighter Trailer: Alexander Volkov | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov.
Fighter Trailer: Alexander Volkov | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov.
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After falling short to Blaydes, Volkov responded with perhaps his best two performances in the UFC. First, a dominant knockout win over Walt Harris via a stabbing body kick, and then a brutal, yet economic, knockout win over Alistair Overeem, whom Volkov calls a “legend.” 

Now, Volkov finds himself as the established name in the division facing the rising star in Gane.

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“I worked on some special things just for Ciryl Gane,” Volkov said. “I was looking at a lot of his fights, his videos. I feel like I did my homework really good. We’ll see how it’ll be in the Octagon, but I’m feeling great right now.”

Alexander Volkov of Russia consoles Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands after his knockout victory in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Volkov of Russia consoles Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands after his knockout victory in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Volkov of Russia consoles Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands after his knockout victory in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

In Gane, Volkov faces an undefeated fighter who hasn’t experienced much in the way of adversity in the Octagon. Instead, the Frenchman has only shown the elite layers of what could make him a sooner rather than later title challenger. He earned a TKO win over Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256 before earning a methodical and patient unanimous decision win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik in his first main event in February.

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Even so, Gane’s performance left some underwhelmed, but Gane played a smart, intellectual game to get the win. Volkov, however, is Gane’s toughest test yet, one whose technique on the feet is some of the best in the division. From Volkov’s point of view, he understands the challenges Gane presents and knows this fight is one that could launch the winner into the title conversation.

“(Gane is) really talented,” Volkov said. “He has really good striking skills; one of the best in our division. He’s also good in grappling and wrestling, but I’m feeling like I’m here to win. I’m feeling like it’s really a good fight for me, and I just want to show everybody that I am better in everything.”

Alexander Volkov of Russia punches Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Volkov of Russia punches Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Volkov of Russia punches Alistair Overeem of the Netherlands in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Of course, Volkov’s sole focus is on the belt. That doesn’t mean he is overlooking Gane by any means, though. Gane is his avenue to get one step closer to Francis Ngannou and the heavyweight strap. 

The path isn’t clean, however. Ngannou is rumored to defend his belt against Lewis soon, and there’s always the Jon Jones factor looming over the division. But Volkov knows he can only control what is in his grasp, which is a 6-foot-5 rising star looking to make his name off Volkov’s own work.

“We will see how it will be,” Volkov said. “I don’t want to look (past him), but I am ready for the title fight. I am thinking about it every day, but for now, I have to fight with Ciryl Gane and show the best performance that I can.”