In a battle of giants in the UFC Fight Night main event, Alexander Volkov outgunned Stefan Struve in a back and forth heavyweight war in front of a raucous crowd in the Netherlands on Saturday.
Fighting at home for the second time in just over a year, Struve was definitely looking for the knockout and he landed some hard shots, as he opened a massive cut underneath Volkov's eye during one exchange.
Volkov survived and came back with his own offensive onslaught as he pinned Struve against the Octagon wall in the third round before unleashing a series of strikes that put the Dutchman down and out on the ground. Volkov moves to 3-0 in the Octagon with the win while knocking off a top 10 opponent in Struve.
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Going into the event, Volkov was a sizable underdog, with only 35 percent of fantasy players picking him to win, but he pulled off the upset to earn the third-round TKO victory. Another 76 percent of fantasy players did predict that Volkov would earn the knockout, which is exactly how he got the job done in his first UFC main event.
Siyar Bahadurzada returned to action with a crowd pleasing TKO as he put away newcomer Rob Wilkinson, who accepted the bout on short notice. Bahadurzada nearly got a finish early in the fight when he cracked Wilkinson with a body shot before nearly locking on a D'Arce choke.
The second round saw Bahadurzada open up his striking attack as he landed a barrage of punches on the feet that saw Wilkinson drop to the mat. Bahadurzada followed up with a few more shots until the referee saw enough to call a stop to the contest. Bahadurzada gets his second win in a row with 78 percent of fantasy players picking him to win the bout.
Marion Reneau had to go deep into the third round to stop late notice replacement Talita Bernardo in a back and forth battle in the women's bantamweight division. Despite preparing for a striker going into the card, Reneau made the necessary adjustments to deal with Bernardo, who is a noted grappler with a history in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Ultimately, Reneau took the fight to the ground, where she battered Bernardo with just seconds remaining until the referee had no choice but to stop it. Reneau was a heavy favorite, with 85 percent of fantasy players picking her to win and another 69 percent predicting her victory would come by decision.
The main card kicked off with an ultra-exciting bout in the welterweight division as Leon Edwards survived a second round knockdown to come back and defeat tough-as-nails American Bryan Barberena. Despite a recent win streak in the division, Edwards was a decided underdog going into the fight, with only 31 percent of fantasy players picking him to win, but now he's the owner of five victories in a row with his unanimous decision over Barberena.
The prelims saw plenty of action with several massive knockouts and submissions taking place on UFC FIGHT PASS.
Darren Till remained undefeated in his UFC campaign with a lopsided victory over Bojan Velickovic that included a devastating standing elbow strike that nearly ended the fight. Velickovic somehow survived, but Till ended up the victor to notch his 15th career victory. Fantasy players had this fight well scouted out, with 72 percent picking Till to win and another 60 percent correctly predicting he would win by decision.
Mairbek Taisumov got another highlight reel finish in his fight against Felipe Silva after slamming home a right hand that sent the Brazilian crashing face first into the canvas. Taisumov was selected by 72 percent of fantasy players, which made him another of the heaviest favorites on the card as he gets his fifth win in a row.
For the second fight in a row, Michel Prazeres pulled off the rare north-south choke to put another win on his resume as he dispatched UFC newcomer Mads Burnell. Prazares was a massive favorite according to fantasy players, with a whopping 89 percent picking him to win on Saturday.
Russian wrestler Rustam Khabilov also enjoyed heavy odds in his favor with 84 percent of fantasy players predicting his victory against Desmond Green in a lightweight matchup. Khabilov has now won five fights in a row in arguably the deepest division in the sport.
Aleksander Rakic managed to pull off the first upset during the prelims as he took out veteran UFC fighter Francimar Barroso by unanimous decision. Rakic was only selected by 35 percent of fantasy players, but the UFC rookie also earned an extra 40 points because it was his Octagon debut.
Zabit Magomedsharipov has a tough name to pronounce but it might be worth learning after the first time UFC fighter made a spectacular debut with a submission victory against Mike Santiago. Magomedsharipov showed off his striking and ground skills before wrapping up the second-round rear naked choke finish, with 71 percent of fantasy players correctly predicting his win.
Two more upsets closed out the prelims as Abdul-Kerim Edilov put on quite a performance as he took out Bojan Mihajlovic with some serious ground-and-pound in the second round. 44 percent of fantasy players had picked Edilov going into the card. Meanwhile, Thibault Gouti got the card started with a rousing TKO victory against Andrew Holbrook after just 21percent of fantasy players picked him going into the night.
All told, seven favorites came away victorious on Saturday, with five underdogs getting wins according to the selections made by fantasy players for UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Struve.
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