Fans in attendance in Rotterdam, and those tuning in on UFC Fight Pass, were treated to an exciting night (or day, depending on your locale) of action with UFC Rotterdam. Weak on paper, the UFC Fight Night 115 card exceeded expectations thanks to a high finishing rate and a couple of unexpected performances. Among them, Alexander Volkov, who finished Stefan Struve in the third round of their main event fight, and Zabit Magomedsharipov, who had an incredible debut Saturday.
“Drago” — as Volkov is otherwise known as — overcame some early difficulty, including some hard uppercuts, a nasty gash under the left eye, and a pair of eye pokes, in order to come on strong as the fight progressed and finish fellow top ten heavyweight Stefan Struve. Volkov’s jab found a home more frequently as the fight progressed, and a couple of combos in the third round put the seven footer away, sending him slumping to the canvas as the ref waved off the action.
Struve and Volkov were awarded the Fight of the Night for their efforts.
In a stellar debut, meanwhile, Dagestan, Russia’s Zabit Magomedsharipov (13-1) shocked MMA fans with one of the flashiest displays of striking this side of Yair Rodriguez. Even pulling off a well-executed “Showtime” kick off the cage (that unfortunately for all but opponent Mike Santiago went high), Magomedsharipov jumped immediately into hot prospect status. Ironically, after a display of spinning attacks that felt straight out of a video game, Magomedsharipov wound up taking the back and finishing Santiago via a rear-naked choke, proving at least that he’s not a one-trick pony.
His efforts won him one of two Performance of the Night honors. The second Performance of the Night was awarded to Mairbek Taisumov, who like Zabit Magomedsharipov appeared on the evening’s preliminary card. Taisumov wasted little time in getting the job done, knocking out Felipe Silva in under ninety seconds.
All four athletes were awarded $50,000 U.S. for their efforts.