Alexander Volkov put the top tier of the heavyweight division on notice with a fourth-round knockout of Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC Fight Night 127 from the O2 Arena in London.
Vai Cavalo wasted no time in getting right to work against Volkov. He immediately ran across the cage and threw a flying side kick before grabbing onto a leg and dragging his opponent to the mat.
The Russian eventually worked his way back to his feet, but not before Werdum was able to do damage on the ground. Volkov landed some hard strikes, but Werdum once again forced him to the mat and did enough to win the round, per Bloody Elbow:
Drago demonstrated an ability to adjust in the second. He stuffed the first takedown attempt from the former heavyweight champion and controlled the stand-up action, but it didn't take long for Werdum to try again, and he was successful the next time around.
Werdum worked for a kimura but wasn't able to lock it in, and it became fair to wonder if Volkov was going to ever get more aggressive, as Bloody Elbow's Mookie Alexander suggested:
Volkov answered that question in the third round, as he finally landed something of consequence. A flurry from Drago put Werdum on the mat and earned him his first round in the fight, as the UFC's official Twitter account captured:
That turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. Volkov came out in the fourth round and took it to a tired Werdum. Volkov scored big shots from top position and then stood up to finish the fight with punches to earn the finish.
Volkov is now 4-0 in the UFC with back-to-back finishes, officially welcoming him to a rising cast of young heavyweights. MMAFighting's Luke Thomas welcomed him to the club:
As with most UFC Fight Pass cards, the offering was heavy on up-and-coming talent along with some veteran fighters looking to get back on the right track. Here's a look at the complete results and a closer look at the main card bouts.
Alexander Volkov def. Fabricio Werdum via fourth-round KO (1:38)
Jan Blachowicz def. Jimi Manuwa via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Tom Duquesnoy def. Terrion Ware via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Leon Edwards def. Peter Sobotta via third-round TKO (4:59)
Charles Byrd def. John Phillips via submission (rear-naked choke) (R1, 3:58)
Danny Roberts def. Oliver Enkamp via first-round KO (2:12)
Danny Henry def. Hakeem Dawodu via submission (guillotine) (R1, 0:39)
Paul Craig def. Magomed Ankalaev via submission (triangle) (R3, 4:59)
Kajan Johnson def. Stevie Ray via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dmitriy Sosnovskiy def. Mark Godbeer via submission (rear-naked choke) (R2, 4:29)
Jimi Manuwa vs. Jan Blachowicz
Nearly three years ago, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz engaged in a forgettable three-round fight that saw Manuwa hand Blachowicz his first UFC loss.
This fight could not have been any different.
This was an absolute slugfest, as the light heavyweights threw with the intent to finish the fight for three rounds. With Manuwa losing his last fight by knockout to Volkan Oezdemir, it was expected he might have a more conservative approach. As Jordan Breen of Sherdog noted, that wasn't the case:
Blachowicz came out early and let Manuwa feel his power, nearly finishing the fight before the Poster Boy was able to survive:
Not to be outdone, Manuwa answered with a shot of his own in the second round:
This is the kind of win that Blachowicz has needed to get the opportunity to break into the top 10. If there isn't a rubber match, he should get a fairly high-profile fight in the near future.
For Manuwa, this just adds to his fall from grace. It wasn't long ago that he was looking at a fight against Daniel Cormier for the title. Now he's on a two-fight losing streak and on his way out of the top 10.
Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware
Tom Duquesnoy's hype train took a hit his last time out when he suffered a split-decision loss to Cody Stamann. This time—against a tough out in Terrion Ware—he did just enough to eke out the decision.
Ware didn't make things easy for the 24-year-old. He consistently pressured and left little room for Duquesnoy to operate, causing people such as Breen to question Duquesnoy's decision making in the cage:
Also concerning for Duquesnoy was his lack of power. Even when he landed cleanly, he wasn't able to dissuade Ware from coming forward. Bloody Elbow noted the lack of power:
Still, the tendency to be extra critical of fighters with Duquesnoy's promise can skew their fights. This is still a quality win, and the young prospect understands he needs to improve from here, per MMA Fighting:
If he does, the UFC could have an exciting addition to the bantamweight division.
Peter Sobotta vs. Leon Edwards
It is March, so it only made sense that the main card would start off with a buzzer-beater. Welterweights Peter Sobotta and Leon Edwards engaged in a back-and-forth fight, but it was Edwards who was able to draw the referee stoppage at 4:59 of the third and final round.
Combined with Paul Craig's last-second submission win, the card made some history, according to Adam Martin of MMA Oddsbreaker:
The fight would have been an interesting one to score. Edwards was the aggressor in scoring takedowns and wanted to wrestle the 31-year-old, but Sobotta was more than happy to be a threat off his back.
After the bout, Edwards called out fellow UK fighter Darren Till. Till is coming off a first-round TKO win over Donald Cerrone, so it makes sense that Edwards would call him out.
Now that he's on a five-fight win streak, it's a matchup that fans are going to want to see.