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UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Struve - Winners and Losers

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Here are the real winners from UFC: Volkov vs Struve.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Volkov vs Struve Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC’s return to Holland was yet another event that suffered the misfortune of being drowned out by the noise and hype of the Mayweather-McGregor fight last week. Perhaps it’s a combination of fatigue, the lack of major advertising for smaller events and the fact that it was outside of the U.S.

Whatever the case may be, this was somewhat under the radar, but had the benefit of Fight Pass pacing (second only to Invicta pacing). The other major takeaway here is that there were some very good performances with some excellent finishes that gave the fans what they wanted. It made for a more streamlined production than the usual FS1 events, and the fact that it was earlier in the day for American viewers is also a pleasant change of pace.

Winners

Alexander Volkov - Volkov’s currently on a five-fight win streak and now 3-0 in the UFC. After defeating Timothy Johnson and Roy Nelson by decision, he came in at #7 and won against #8, and adds some highlight reel moments from this fight. Despite taking some serious punishment, his accuracy and use of range proved to be superior, nailing Struve with a few shots that looked absolutely brutal. Now he’s in a strangely crowded heavyweight division with Derrick Lewis, Mark Hunt, Francis Ngannou, Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem ahead of him. Lewis just lost in June, Ngannou’s fight against Junior dos Santos has been cancelled, Cain Velasquez is unreliable due to injuries and Werdum just lost to Overeem. Clearly, there’s some reshuffling that needs to take place in that order, but it’s hard to tell what spot Volkov will fall into due to how erratic ranking selection usually is. The most important thing isn’t so much his placing in the top ten, but what it means in terms of getting closer to a title shot. With another win or two and an injury to someone further up the ladder, he might be there before this time next year, especially if there’s another impressive finish.

Siyar Bahadurzada - After submitting Brandon Thatch in March of last year, Bahadurzada was once again out of commission for a long time. His ability to bounce back after long layoffs seems to make him even more dangerous, though. Siyar threw a lot of punches with a ton of heat on them, and he managed to find the mark enough times to put Wilkinson away. If you’re coming back from a long period of inactivity, this kind of finish is the kind of statement that does you a lot of favors.

Marion Reneau - After a somewhat anticlimactic draw against Bethe Correia, Reneau had a great performance with fun scrambles and much improved striking. No disrespect to her opponent, but Reneau was just a level or two above in that department and was mostly dictating the pace on the ground as well. The finish may not have been the submission that Reneau was clearly hunting for, but a made for another well-earned finish - her third out of four UFC wins. Unfortunately, she did fight a new and unranked opponent, but women’s bantamweight is a slow-moving division. This win could move her into the top ten.

Darren Till - Say what you will, the guy knows how to put on a show. He’s not flash without substance, his flash is part of the substance. His spinning attacks, standing elbows and timing with his standing strikes make him a joy to watch, and his striking on the ground looks great as well. Hard to tell what his ceiling is right now, but he’s 3-0 in the UFC with one draw against Nicolas Dalby. I personally can’t wait to see who he fights next.

Mairbek Taisumov - Slept that brother with one shot. That was vicious. Taisumov has six UFC wins, five of them consecutive and all of those five are finishes. Lightweight is currently shifting a bit in the middle ranks, so it makes sense that Taisumov get some love and be given the opportunity of fighting a higher-level opponent soon. His callout of Chiesa was nice, and his Nate Diaz bit was almost perfect. Taisumov wasn’t the biggest winner on the card, but certainly the one that did the most with what he was given to maximize his stock here.

Abdul-Kerim Edilov - After being signed long enough to seem like ages ago (OK, it was two years), Edilov finally made his UFC debut, one delayed due to unusual circumstances. This was a very dominant win, and Edilov showed he’s got what it takes to hang in the UFC, his ground control was impressive, and his constant pressure was near-perfect as well. Now it’s a matter of seeing how he’s handled given his troubled past and connections to a terrifying regime. Edilov’s performance does him some good, but the excess baggage looks like it will inevitably overshadow what he does in the cage moving forward. And yeah, about that...

Ramzan Kadyrov - Having Chechen fighters in the world’s most prestigious MMA organization on one card is a big boon for the dictator, especially when one of them is a relative that is part of his inner circle and trains his children. I’m not sure if the UFC was playing “out of sight, out of mind“ by putting Edilov on a European card to catch less heat. Maybe that part is tinfoil hattery that I shouldn’t engage in, but Kadyrov benefits no matter what when a fighter that connected to him wins so dominantly. This is the strange new reality we live in with this sport.

Zabit Magomedsharipov - The Pro FC and ACB vet makes his UFC debut and pushed foward to get another brutal finish for his UFC debut, and hasn’t lost since 2013. With his height, reach and willingness to take risks with dynamic striking, he’s going to be a problem at featherweight.

Thibault Gouti - After a loss on The Ultimate Fighter and starting 0-3 in the UFC, Gouti showed in this fight why he was signed to begin with. Gouti was able to handle himself well on the ground, but was able to really pull ahead standing. Again, not the biggest winner on the card, but he did more than just notch a win to stay afloat and keep his job. That was a good win, and perhaps he may be hitting his stride again here.

Leon Edwards fought a smart fight against a very strong and crafty fighter in Bryan Barberena. His ground control did him all of the favors in the first and third round to take the decision while he quietly racks up four wins in a row. Aleksandar Rakic wins in his UFC debut with some crafty striking and movement to stay ahead of his opponent, and hasn’t lost since his professional debut in 2011. Rustam Khabilov was able to stay a step ahead of Des Green with his striking, and neutralized his wrestling to keep him flustered in a close fight. Michel Prazeres won his fight with a brutal north/south choke using those freakish back muscles to trap and pressure his opponent’s neck. Prazeres now has five wins in a row and two consecutive submissions.

Losers

Stefan Struve - Tough break for Struve, especially when he was doing so well for portions of that fight. This loss snaps a two-fight win streak and once again raises questions regarding his ability to take shots as well as his future after fighting with the specter of brain trauma looming over the horizon. The best thing we can take away from this is that his time with Henri Hooft has finally gotten the tallest heavyweight in the division to finally fight like a tall fighter - something we’ve been hoping for in vain for years now. I wonder if it’s too late, and hope that’s not the case. More than that, we really should be more concerned about the damage he’s taken thus far.

Bryan Barberena - Even though he’s still 4-3 in the UFC, this fight seems like a step back for Barberena. His wrestling and ground control didn’t seem the same as in previous bouts. This stylistic matchup should have favored him on paper, but it’s concerning that he spent most of the time being controlled here.

Referees - Look, every time this comes up it requires the obligatory disclaimer - being a ref is a difficult, thankless and high-pressure job. We need to be considerate when making criticisms, but some of these decisions on this card were abysmal. Talita de Oliveira, Rob Wilkinson and Bojan Mijalovic should have had their fights stopped far sooner. Not only that, but one of the best refs in the world in Marc Goddard refused to take any points away in the main event when they were having a poke-off. That was perhaps not the most dangerous of all, but certainly the most confusing given that Goddard is so good at what he does. There were too many concerns of this kind for one event.

Francimar Barroso isn’t a bad fighter, but he’s failed to look impressive in most of his UFC run. This time he seemed a step behind for a large portion of the fight, and he’s not getting any younger. Sorry to say it, but Andrew Holbrook might be getting cut after falling 2-3 under the UFC banner. All three of his losses have been finishes due to strikes. Likewise for Bojan Mijalovich, who is 0-3 in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. It’s a weird division, sure. But not enough for management to keep him around.

Neither

Des Green - Green ends up at 1-1 in his UFC run, and this was against one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division. Let’s see how he grows and learns from this.

Felipe Silva - After a UFC debut that saw him brutalize Shane Campbell, he gets faceplanted in his sophomore effort. This is only his first professional loss and also puts him at 1-1 in his UFC run. He did get overzealous with his forward movement, leading to the KO. Still, not something he can’t recover from.

Bojan Velickovic - Velickovic’s UFC run is now 2-2 with one draw, and while he clearly didn’t win this fight, showed he was down for putting on a big show. Management values that, so this doesn’t hurt him at all.

Talita de Oliveira - Losing your UFC debut usually lands you here. Talita’s wins have all been by submission, and she went toe to toe with a fighter that has some of (if not the best) BJJ in the division. Her striking wasn’t where it needed to be, but this could be merely a matter of inexperience. No shame in any of that.

Mads Burnell - Similar situation here, as Burnell took on a sturdy powerhouse of a fighter with more than twice as many fights. Best to wait for his next outing before making any conclusions.

Mike Santiago - Santiago’s situation is a bit different, seeing as he came off making such a good impression in the Contenders series. That means he still has marketability that can be worked with to scrub this loss away in the future. Santiago has some serious potential, and he should be absolutely fine after this.

Rob Wilkinson - Co-main event in your UFC debut? The higher-ups must’ve been really impressed prior to signing him. Nonetheless, he lost to a surprisingly strong striker, and can easily be paired up with someone less experienced to help him move up the ranks.