After a one-sided win at UFC Saudi Arabia, what’s next for Alexander Volkov?

MMA: UFC 293 - Tuivasa vs Volkov

This past Saturday at UFC Saudi Arabia, we saw a big time matchup between Russian heavyweight contenders in the co-main event. Top contender and knockout artist Sergei Pavlovich (18-3) was looking to bounce back after his interim title loss to Tom Aspinall as he took on surging contender Alexander Volkov (38-10).

Pavlovich looked unbeatable for a stretch where he was just starching everyone in the first round. Then, he ran into Tom Aspinall who knocked him out. He took some time off and returned on Saturday looking to return to form. However, a former training partner was looking to spoil the comeback.

After a real up-and-down stretch throughout his UFC run, Alexander Volkov entered Saturday with a ton of momentum. Having won three fights in a row, he knew that a win over Pavlovich would put him right into the title picture. He just had to go out there and fight his fight and that’s exactly what he did.

When Volkov is at his best, he is fighting from range. Throwing big kicks and using his jab. It’s hard for opponents to get inside when he’s so massive and all night long, Pavlovich struggled to get inside. Volkov busted him up with big jabs and straight shots. When the fight was over, Volkov looked fresh while Pavlovich was bloodied and bruised. It was a clear decision win and the fourth in a row for Volkov at UFC Saudi Arabia.

What’s next after UFC Saudi Arabia?

With this win, Volkov is going to be ranked near the very top of the heavyweight division. He wants a title shot, but I’m note entirely sure it’s in the cards. Tom Aspinall is defending the interim title against Curtis Blaydes next month while Jon Jones is defending the undisputed title against Stipe Miocic, likely in November.

If Miocic wins, he’s going to retire as champion. If Jones wins, he’ll weigh whether to retire or fight Aspinall assuming Aspinall beats Blaydes in their rematch. So, where does that leave Alexander Volkov? If Aspinall wins, I don’t think the UFC will have him fight again until we know the outcome of Jones and Miocic.

With that in mind, I think Volkov is going to need to fight again and there’s a potential rematch that’s lining up perfectly. The UFC is planning to return to Paris in September. Ciryl Gane is supposed to headline that card and the stars are aligning for a rematch with Volkov. It’s been three years since their first fight where Gane won a decision. I think it’s the right time for this fight to happen again and whoever wins will be right in line for a heavyweight title shot.

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