Curtis Blaydes scored 14 takedowns over five rounds to secure a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday.
Blaydes earned the 49-46, 48-47, 48-46 win despite slowing down in the late rounds.
Blaydes Tires Late, Hangs On to Win
From the start, Blaydes (14-2) used his superior wrestling skills to take the fight to the mat, leveraging commanding positions to definitively win rounds. The 14 takedowns set a new record for a UFC heavyweight fight.
But while it looked dominant, Blaydes acknowledged that getting Volkov to the mat wasn’t easy.
“Volkov was a lot harder than I thought to take down,” Blaydes said in a post-fight interview. “He had big, strong legs. When I get to the thighs and the legs, I’m usually able to win there. He was real strong.”
That strength began to show in the late rounds. By the fourth, Volkov (31-8) was able to withstand some of Blaydes’ takedown attempts, even landing one of his own. In the fifth, the surging Volkov landed some sharp strikes, though Blaydes ultimately got the fight to the ground where he could safely run out the clock.
After the fight, UFC president Dana White said he was unimpressed by Blaydes’ performance.
“His two losses are to Francis [Ngannou],” White said in the post-show press conference. “How do you give him the title shot ahead of Francis? But, yeah, he would be considered next in line. But with his performance tonight and his cardio? I wouldn’t wait around if I was him. I’d stay active. I’d stay busy.”
Nevada Regulators Probing Rohskopf’s Corner
In the opening fight of Saturday’s preliminary card, 25-year-old Max Rohskopf (5-1) lost to Austin Hubbard (12-4) after choosing not to continue the bout after the second round. White later defended Rohskopf’s decision.
“Let me tell you what, in this f—ing sport, if you’re done, you’re done,” White said. “You should absolutely be able to quit. I know that it’s frowned upon, but guess what? Anybody that would talk shit about you quitting, isn’t in there fighting.”
Rohskopf’s corner faced far more criticism. While Rohskopf audibly told his team several times that he didn’t want to go out for the final round, cornerman Robert Drysdale continued to try to convince his fighter otherwise. An inspector from the Nevada Athletic Commission heard Rohskopf asking out and alerted referee Mark Smith, who asked the physician to find out if Rohskopf wanted to continue. When he said no, Smith called off the fight.
“That’s something we will take a look at,” NAC executive director Bob Bennett told ESPN. “We might want to take disciplinary action on them. That doesn’t sound like they are looking out for a fighter.”
Drysdale released a video statement on Sunday to defend his actions.
“I gave him the mental coach that he needed,” Drysdale said. “I would expect the exact same thing from him if he was in my shoes – or any of my coaches for that matter.”
Contender Series Returning in August
MMA Junkie reported Sunday that Dana White’s Contender Series will return on Aug. 4, citing sources who said the show will take place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. If the show runs for its normal 10 weeks, the Contender Series will continue until mid-October.
Dana White’s Contender Series gives fighters an opportunity to land a UFC contract by impressing White in the Octagon. Notable fighters who joined the UFC through the Contender Series include Sean O’Malley, Johnny Walker, and Maycee Barber.