After roughly a month long layoff, the UFC returned to action Saturday with UFC Fight Night 115: Struve vs. Volkov. Going down at the Ahoy Rotterdam arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the main event featured the seventh and eighth ranked heavyweight fighters in the UFC. Former Bellator MMA heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov was looking to win his third straight, and stay undefeated in the octagon. The “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve, meanwhile, was looking to win three straight as well at UFC Rotterdam, and continue along the comeback trail.
The fight represented something of a throwback to freakshow fight days, if only because Struve, at seven feet tall, and Volkov, at six foot seven, represented the UFC’s tallest athletes.
Struve entered the night coming off a submission win over Daniel Omielańczuk at UFC 204. Volkov fought Roy Nelson to a decision earlier this year.
As the action got underway, “The Skyscraper” worked in a jab followed by a knee to the body early, utilizing a Muay Thai style of fighting. The dutchman seemed unphased by fighting someone close to his own height, but Volkov managed to catch a high kick and dump Struve on his back. Struve, however, escaped easily. A pair of hard uppercuts tested Volkov’s chin, while the Russian fired back with some shots of his own. Volkov landed a kick to the midsection, and began moving forward, mixing up shots between the body and head. Struve, however, looked to be the fresher fighter. Volkov caught his attention with a knee to the body; Struve moved in with a jumping knee, but Volkov landed a takedown and began landing hammerfists on Struve! Things were looking iffy for the Dutch fighter, but he would attempt to grab an arm, and survive to the bell.
Coming into the second Volkov was showing a nasty cut under his left eye. Struve went right after it with a right hand, but missed. A low kick tripped Struve up, but he was soon back at it with a jumping knee. An eye poke by Struve then paused the action.
Back underway, Struve looked to land the overhand right again. Moments later, he’d eat an uppercut by Volkov that pushed him back. A jab and several followup strikes landed for Volkov just ahead of the two minute mark, and Struve looked to be in trouble, but was able to escape. A second eye poke by Struve, however, paused the action again. Despite the second infraction the ref opted not to take a point. Instead, he warned that a third infraction would earn a deduction. After a brief reprieve, Volkov once again brought the fight to Struve, forcing the taller fighter to cover up along the fence. “Drago” wobbled Struve by the cage near the end of the round, and the Russian finished a solid frame with another flurry of strikes.
Round three saw Struve on the offensive early. However, Volkov was getting his jab through. A double eye poke then forced the ref to warn both fighters, but he did not deduct a point from Struve despite the earlier warnings. Volkov would later clinch and work knees and strikes; Struve was now bloodied as well. “The Skyscraper” began looking tired and was floored by a Volkov combo; the tower slumped to the ground after a few followup strikes. Huge win for Alexander Volkov!
Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Struve by TKO, Round 3, 3:30