UFC Fight Night 115 was never meant to be a showstopper, but what we’ve been presented is an especially lackluster card. On Saturday, September 2nd, Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve headlines the event against former M-1 Global heavyweight champ Alexander Volkov. Other than that, there isn’t much to look forward to.
Former women’s featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie was scheduled to take on Marion Reneau in the co-main event, but de Randamie pulled out due to injury and has been replaced by UFC newbie Talita de Oliveira. Marcos Rogério de Lima and Saparbek Safarov were set for a light-heavyweight showdown, but Lima was pinged by USADA and Safarov pulled out citing injury.
So let’s stick to the main event. With the UFC heavyweight division a little stagnant at the moment, this fight could determine a future title contender.
Stefan Struve (+105) vs Alexander Volkov (-125)
Stefan Struve (28-8) and Alexander Volkov (28-6) are two heavyweight giants. Standing at 7’0” (84” reach), Struve is the biggest fighter in the promotion. And Volkov, who abandoned his M-1 Global heavyweight title to join the UFC, also stands tall at 6’7” (80” reach).
Struve’s claim to fame is that he issued current heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic his first ever defeat back in 2012. Using his tremendous reach advantage, he kept Miocic within range and finished him in the second round.
But Miocic is the only high-level fighter he’s been able to defeat. When matched-up against fighters like Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, and Junior dos Santos, Struve has been stopped every time.
On top of that, he’s battled heart problems throughout his career. Before his scheduled fight against Matt Mitrione in 2014, he fainted in his dressing room with an elevated heart rate. Before that, he was medicated for a leaking aortic valve. More recently, he pulled out of a February fight due to injury.
Volkov seems to be in better health. Having spent most of his career at M-1, the hard-hitting Russian hasn’t fought as many high-caliber fighters as Struve. But from what we saw of his two UFC fights to date, he’s handling life in the octagon just fine. Sitting at no. 7 in the official UFC rankings after just two wins, he’s on his way to being a serious title contender.
Struve will have the home-ring advantage, as well as an edge in height and reach, but he doesn’t have a great record against top-level fighters. Volkov is a tall heavyweight, so Struve’s length won’t be as significant as he’s accustomed to, which could be a serious issue. Given Volkov’s ability to take his fights to the ground and submit opponents, the Russian is poised to go 3-0 at the UFC.
Pick: Alexander Volkov (-125)