UFC on ESPN 11 Recap: Curtis Blaydes’ heavy wrestling attack neutralizes Volkov

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

UFC on ESPN 11 was the fourth event hosted at the APEX, and the main event of the evening featured a heavyweight contest between Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (13-2, 1 NC) and Alexander Volkov (31-7). The UFC stacked the deck tonight, and the card did not disappoint fight fans.

Curtis Blaydes stifles Alexander Volkov

Blaydes entered the main event on a three fight winning streak while Volkov entered the Octagon looking for his second consecutive win. This fight was a massive fight for both men as they looked to get closer to a UFC heavyweight title shot. There were no doubts to the strategies in this fight. Volkov wanted to keep the fight standing while Blaydes wanted to get the fight to the ground. Blaydes even Tweeted this week that he plans on ragdolling Volkov. It didn’t take long for Blaydes to get the fight to the ground. Volkov was taken down within ten seconds of the first round. Volkov was able to get back up, but Blaydes got to Volkov’s back, and continued to stay on the Russian. Every time Volkov would get to his feet, Blaydes would drag him right back down. There was no damage done in the first round, but it was a dominant round for Blaydes.

In the second round, Blaydes elected to stand up with Volkov to start. Both men landed some clean shots, but Blaydes got the better of the exchanges. After a solid overhand right, Blaydes took Volkov back to the ground. After not doing much on top, Blaydes unleashed a few nasty elbows with about one minute left in the round. In the third round, Blaydes was not able to get the fight to the ground easily. Volkov successfully defended the first two big time takedown attempts from Blaydes. However, the third time was the charm as Blaydes again got Volkov to the ground. The rest of the round, Blaydes controlled Volkov, but again, Blaydes did no damage on the ground.

The fourth round went the exact same way that the first three did. Blaydes was able to secure a takedown within the first ten seconds of the round. Volkov was able to get back to his feet after spending some time on his back. Volkov landed a nice uppercut, but then Blaydes took him right back down. Blaydes laid in top position doing nothing for a few minutes before Herb Dean stood the fight up. Once it was up, Volkov landed some clean shots and took down Blaydes who looked exhausted. In the fifth round, Volkov landed some big shots, but again, Blaydes was able to land a takedown. Volkov was able to get back up to his feet, but it wouldn’t be for long. Blaydes was able to land another takedown late in the round. Blaydes just laid on Volkov the rest of the round in a fight that didn’t impress anyone. Curtis Blaydes was given the unanimous decision by the judges (

Emmett decisions Burgos in an absolute war

The co-main event of the evening was the fight that everyone was talking about going into the evening. The matchup featured the exciting UFC featherweights Josh Emmett (15-2) and Shane Burgos (13-1). A win for either man would likely mean a shot at someone inside the top five in their next fight. Early on in the fight, Emmett looked like he tweaked his knee, but it didn’t stop him from throwing bombs. Burgos started patient, but Emmett was swinging with everything right from the beginning. Throughout the round, Emmett landed some serious shots up top, but Burgos landed some nasty calf kicks. Emmett appeared to be trying to end things whereas Burgos was playing the long-game. The one thing I was the most impressed with after the first round was Burgos’ chin. Emmett landed some clean haymakers, but Burgos took everything he had.

Early in the second round, it appeared that Emmett was still having issues with his knee. Burgos was landing some clean jabs and leg kicks early. However, Emmett countered with some massive power shots. As the second round went on, Burgos continued to land some really good straight shots. Emmett would explode and land some haymakers, but Burgos landed at a higher clip in the second. In the last minute, Burgos marched forward landing some big straight shots, but Emmett was able to counter with a massive right hand. The chins on both of these men cannot be questioned after this one.

The the third round started with Emmett pushing forward with some big shots. About a minute into the round, a massive left finally put Burgos on the mat. Burgos was able to get back up, but Emmett was doing a fantastic job of going to the body and then the head in this round. With about two and a half minutes left in the round, Emmett dropped Burgos for the second time in the round with a massive left hook. Again, Burgos was able to get back to his feet without being finished. Both men continued to swing for the fences down the stretch. This fight went to the scorecards after exceeding it’s lofty expectations. In the end, the judges gave the fight to Josh Emmett (29-28, 29-28, 29-27). Emmett has now won three in a row and he should be in line for a top five opponent.

Pennington earns a grueling decision

The third fight of the main card featured former UFC title challenger, Raquel Pennington (10-8), and Marion Reneau (9-5-1). Both of these ladies came into the fight needing a win with Pennington losing in her last fight, and Reneau having a two fight losing streak. Early on in the fight, both fighters were exchanging some big shots. Throughout the round, Pennington would engage in a clinch where she was able to land some flush knees. With about a minute left in the round, Reneau was able to get Pennington’s back from the clinch position. The rest of the round saw Reneau control that position.

The action was heating up to start the second round as both ladies were exchanging some big shots before they engaged in another clinch. Reneau was landing some solid shots before a knee went below the belt which stopped the action. When the fight resumed, Pennington went right after Reneau with some big shot. The two once again engaged in the clinch, and Reneau landed some good knees. Pennington was able to secure a Muay Thai clinch, and land some really good knees. Reneau caught one of the knees and used it to secure a takedown. However, a quick scramble saw Pennington end up on top. Reneau worked her way back to the feet, but Pennington immediately shot in again resulting in another clinch. Both ladies exchanged some big shots in the clinch as the round came to an end.

Early in the third round, Reneau came out looking for a takedown. She was able to get Pennington down for a second, but Pennington bounced right up resulting in another clinch. Pennington was able to secure another Thai clinch where she landed some massive knees to the body. Anytime the two separated, Pennington landed some really solid shots, but would immediately look to clinch after. Pennington got another Thai clinch towards the end of the round where she landed some massive knees. It was pretty clear on who won this one. The judges agreed giving the fight to Pennington by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Belal Muhammad takes the UD over Lyman Good

The second fight featured an anticipated UFC welterweight matchup between Belal Muhammad (16-3) and Lyman Good (21-5, 1 NC). Everyone watching this evening had to have their hearts rooting for Good who was fighting the night before Father’s Day after the recent death of his father. Good came out immediately trying to put pressure on Muhammad. Throughout the first round, Good continued to try to put pressure on Muhammad on the feet, but Muhammad was getting the best of the striking exchanges. Muhammad did a fantastic job at constantly switch stances which made it hard for Good to feel comfortable. Muhammad threw combinations while Good was plotting forward throwing one shot at a time. Surprisingly, there were no takedown attempts from Muhammad in the first round.

Muhammad started the second round landing some good shots, then shot for his first takedown about a minute into the round. Good was able to successfully defended a couple of takedown attempts to keep the fight standing. However, Good just seemed very stiff in his striking. Good landed some solid shots in the second, but they were not in succession. Muhammad continued to do a really good job in the second round of throwing combinations while Good was looking for one big shot. Muhammad controlled most of the round, but Good was able to land some massive shots near the end of the round which seemingly rocked Muhammad for a second. Muhammad was winning the round, but those big shots at the end might sway the judges into giving that one to Good.

The shots at the end of the second seemed to click with Good. He started the round throwing a lot more shots finally putting together some combinations. Good was able to drop Muhammad early in the third round. Good finally loosened up after the stiff start. Good appeared to fight the entire third round as if he needed a finish to win the fight. With about 90 seconds left in the round, Muhammad was able to land a takedown, but Good bounced right back up. The two men exchanged some big shots, but Muhammad was able to land another takedown. Muhammad was able to get Good’s back, and that is where he ended the fight. The fight was incredibly close, but I saw the decision going for Muhammad 29-28. In the end, the judges agreed scoring the fight for Muhammad (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Huge win for Muhammad getting his third win in a row, but your heart has to go out to Lyman Good after that one.

Jim Miller armbars Roosevelt Roberts in the first

The opening fight of the main card was contested at a catchweight between Jim Miller (32-14, 1 NC) and Roosevelt Roberts (10-2). Miller tied Donald Cerrone tonight for the most UFC appearances in history at 35. Roberts just fought three weeks ago where he defeated Brok Weaver at UFC on ESPN 9. Roberts came out looking like he wanted to strike from range, but found himself on his back just a few seconds into the fight after Miller landed a big low kick which swept Roberts off his feet. Miller, who has a great top game, controlled Roberts for the next couple of minutes. After a scramble, Miller found himself on Roberts back before transitioning to an armbar. After initially defending, Roberts was forced to verbally tap from the armbar. With this win, Miller is now 3-1 in his last four fights. It’s a tough loss for Roberts who was looking to break into the top 15 with a win.

Final Takeaways from UFC on ESPN 11

The UFC‘s fourth card at the APEX lived up to the hype. There were great fights all night long from the prelims to the main event. I came away from tonight incredibly impressed with Josh Emmett. I will not deny the fact that I considered him just a power guy before tonight, but he proved me wrong with his performance. Curtis Blaydes dominated the main event, but he really didn’t impress at all. Blaydes is in a very tough spot because if you look at his resume, he’s deserving of a title shot. However, with two losses to top contender, Francis Ngannou, and a performance like he had tonight, I can’t see the UFC giving him a title shot anytime soon. Overall, it was a very solid night of fights, and I’m already counting down the seconds until next weekend’s card.

UFC on ESPN 11 Preview: Curtis Blaydes & Alexander Volkov look to take a step towards the title

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

UFC on ESPN 11 will mark the fourth consecutive Saturday night where we’ve had a UFC card from the APEX. The main event of the evening pairs two top ten heavyweights against each other as Curtis Blaydes (13-2, 1) takes on Alexander Volkov (31-7). The card is stacked from the prelims all the way through the main card. Let’s dive into the card that fight fans will be tuning into this Saturday night on ESPN.

Curtis Blaydes vs Alexander Volkov

Curtis Blaydes is one of the best heavyweights in the world. Since joining the UFC back in 2016, Blaydes has an impressive record of 8-2 with one no contest. He’s got ever-improving striking skills, elite wrestling, and a ground attack that is vicious. The problem for Blaydes in the heavyweight division is the fact that he’s lost twice to top contender, Francis Ngannou, and neither fight was competitive. Earlier this week, I wrote about the problem that Blaydes is facing. He said he wants to wait for a title shot if he wins against Volkov, but he might be waiting a while.

If it wasn’t for a last minute rally by Derrick Lewis back at UFC 229, Alexander Volkov might have fought for a UFC title by now. Volkov has an impressive record of 5-1 in the UFC with wins over guys like Roy Nelson and former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. Volkov has really good striking technique, and presents multiple different looks on his feet. He’s got great kicks, and his accuracy does nothing but help his power. However, Volkov’s weakness is Blaydes’ strength. Volkov does not historically do well against grapplers. Volkov is better when he can use range and pick his opponents apart on the feet. Blaydes is going to try to take this fight to the ground almost immediately. Another big disadvantage Volkov has is the smaller cage. With this fight being at the UFC‘s APEX, the cage is 30% smaller. That’s a big advantage for a guy like Blaydes who wants to close the distance. Blaydes is a massive betting favorite for these reasons, and I think it’s pretty safe money. Volkov is one of the best, but this is an awful matchup for him.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes by TKO – Round 3

Josh Emmett vs Shane Burgos

The co-main event of the evening is the fight that I’m the most excited about when it comes to Saturday’s card. Two top ten featherweights will be going head-to-head as Josh Emmett (15-2) takes on “Hurricane” Shane Burgos (13-1). Any time you see Josh Emmett fight, you have to tell yourself, “Don’t blink.” Emmett has incredible power for the featherweight division. If he connects flush, I’m not sure anyone in the division can take it. Emmett also has really good wrestling and grappling skills, but he seems to be content with standing and trading with his opponents. In this matchup, he might be wise to look to mix in some of the grappling just to give Burgos something to think about.

Shane Burgos is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC‘s featherweight division. His lone career loss came to Calvin Kattar back in 2018, but since then, Burgos has rattled off three impressive victories. Burgos has incredible foot-work and speed which will help him greatly in this matchup. Going into this fight, I think Burgos has the clear advantage when it comes to the overall striking game. Burgos is the faster guy with cleaner boxing. However, Burgos likes to get inside with some of his shots, and that can leave him open to a massive shot from Emmett. My gut is telling me to go with Burgos due to the advantage on the feet, but it’s hard to pick against a guy who is always one shot away from winning the fight. I’m going to go with my gut on this one, but it’s truly a toss-up.

Prediction: Shane Burgos by Unanimous Decision

Raquel Pennington vs Marion Reneau

The third fight on the main card is a very intriguing matchup between two top ten bantamweights as former title challenger, Raquel Pennington (10-8), takes on Marion Reneau (9-5-1). Pennington has had a very up and down last five years if you just look at her record. Since 2016, Pennington is just 4-3, but those losses have all come against either current or former UFC champions. Pennington is as tough as they come in the bantamweight division. She doesn’t have any skills that will wow you, but she will always come forward, and push the pace. Pennington has decent wrestling, okay hands, and does okay in the clinch. However, she’s able to bring the skills she does have together to put on pretty good performances.

Across from Pennington will be the oldest fighter on the card. At 42-years-old, Marion Reneau is coming off of back-to-back decision losses. Prior to those losses, Reneau had gone 3-0-1 in her previous four fights including three finishes. Reneau has really good punching power, and an incredible ground game from the top position. She has struggled at times on her back, but on top, she’s one of the better practitioners in the division. She has multiple ways of winning the fight on Saturday night. Reneau has the power advantage, and she’ll possess the grappling advantage. However, we have seen Reneau lose some decisions due to lack of activity. She has big moments in fights, but then she’s been susceptible to taking her foot off the gas. If this fight gets finished, I think Reneau is going to be the winner. However, if the fight goes to the scorecards, I think Pennington’s forward pressure and activity will get her the nod. I think it’s a close fight, but I think this one is going to the scorecards.

Prediction: Raquel Pennington by Split Decision

Belal Muhammad vs Lyman Good

The second fight on the main card is a classic stylistic matchup that features former Bellator champ, Lyman Good (21-5, 1 NC), and Belal Muhammad (16-3). Lyman Good is going into this fight we a pretty decent advantage on the feet. In his 21 career victories, 11 of those have come via KO/TKO. The last time we saw Good was back in November at UFC 244 where he stopped Chance Rencountre in the third round. Good has some serious power in his hands, but he does have a weakness, and that’s his defensive grappling. In his two UFC losses to Demian Maia and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Good was controlled on the ground. If he can’t keep this fight with Muhammad standing, it could be a long night.

As you probably are guessing, Muhammad is going to have a very predictable strategy in this fight. Do not expect Muhammad to try to keep this fight standing. From the opening bell, expect Muhammad to use his grappling to try to get the fight to the ground. Muhammad is a specialist with really good top control. He’s got a pretty decent chin too only being finished once in his professional career. Muhammad fights like a wet blanket which is the exact style that can give a fighter like Lyman Good some problems. While Good is capable of putting almost anyone away, I think Muhammad is going to be able to use his grappling to nullify any advantage that Good has on the feet.

Prediction: Belal Muhammad by Unanimous Decision

Jim Miller vs Roosevelt Roberts

Kicking off the main card is a lightweight matchup between veteran Jim Miller (31-14, 1 NC), and Roosevelt Roberts (10-1). For Roberts, Miller is the biggest name that he’s fought so far in his UFC career. After coming out of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Roberts has a 4-1 record in the UFC. Roberts looked sensational in his fight against Brok Weaver back on May 30th at UFC on ESPN 9. Roberts has really good submissions skills, and his striking his progressing nicely. This is a true test to see where Roberts is in his development. If he’s able to beat Miller with flying colors, you would have to think he’s ready for a top 15 opponent. However, Miller is the type of guy who will be able to show you any weaknesses that Roberts might have in his game.

In this fight, Jim Miller will tie Cowboy Cerrone with the most fights in UFC history at 35. Miller has fought the who’s who in the UFC over 12 years. While he’s never received a title shot, Miller is widely known as one of the better fighters in the world. Before losing a close decision to Scott Holtzman back in February, Miller had won two fights in a row. Miller is as tough as they come, and you have to know that he’s going to push the prospect, Roberts. I think Roberts has all the tools he needs to win this fight, but do not expect Miller to get steam-rolled here. I think Miller will have his moments, but I think you’re going to see Roberts take another step in the right development direction, and defeat Jim Miller.

Prediction: Roosevelt Roberts by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 3

UFC on ESPN 11 Outlook

The UFC is putting on one helluva show this Saturday night. In addition the five main card fights, the prelims have some really intriguing matchups. Clay Guida, Tecia Torres, Roxanne Modafferi, and undefeated submission ace, Max Rohskopf, are just some of the names on the under card. While the UFC’s card last week caught a lot of criticism, the fans shouldn’t be saying a negative word about this one.