In the main event of UFC Rotterdam in the Netherlands, former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov overcame a rather difficult first round to stop Stefan Struve in round 3. Almost the entire fight was contested on the feet, and after Struve had the early advantage, Volkov found his timing and eventually the accumulation of punches felled “The Skyscraper” in what was billed as the tallest matchup in UFC history.
Volkov threw leg kicks to get the main event going. Struve just missed on a right uppercut while backing up. A jumping knee caught Volkov in the face, but the Russian absorbed it well. Struve had a head kick grabbed by Volkov, who dumped Struve on the mat, but he wanted no part of Stefan’s ground game. “The Skyscraper” hammered home several sharp right hands on Volkov as the two men traded shots. Struve also showed off an improved jab. Volkov came back with a heavy knee to the midsection. Struve cut Volkov with another flying knee, and Volkov changed things up by taking the Dutchman down. The Russian fired off heavy ground-and-pound, cutting through the usually active guard of Struve. This was a very entertaining, high-paced opening frame.
An eye poke halted things just over a minute into round 2. Struve knew that he’d extended his fingers and hit Volkov across the right eye. On the restart, Volkov had success with good combination striking. Struve was able to catch Volkov with overhand rights and uppercuts. A jab and a hard right hand backed Struve up, as Volkov pushed forward. Once again Struve poked Volkov in the eye, but Marc Goddard did not deduct a point. Volkov was landing the cleaner punches as the round progressed, and Struve’s head was snapped back after another strong right hand. Alexander also threw some stinging punches to the body in the build-up to that jarring right.
Incredibly, there was a simultaneous eye poke in the opening minute of round 3. Marc Goddard warned both men for extending their fingers out, with Struve obviously on thin ice from his previous two infractions. Volkov’s right hand was tagging Struve more frequently as the fight progressed, but Stefan showed off a good chin. Struve buckled on an outside leg kick, and then his head bobbled after eating another right. “Drago” was on the offensive and momentum was in his favor. After a hard body kick, Struve backed into the fence. Volkov strung together a combination of punches that put Struve on his backside. A few more punches on the ground forced the referee to intervene, and Volkov picked up the TKO.
Official result: Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Struve by TKO (punches) at 3:30 of round 3
With the win, Volkov improves to 3-0 inside the Octagon, with this being his first stoppage in the UFC. Struve will be disappointed that he couldn’t deliver a win in front of his home fans, but it was by no means a bad performance. Unfortunately for him, this is the seventh time in nine defeats that he’s lost by KO or TKO.