Take a shot on underdog Alexander Volkov

VSiN’s MMA expert Lou Finocchiaro dives into the main event for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 30 card.

Ciryl Gane -155 vs. Alexander Volkov +130, heavyweights (265 pounds), main event

The UFC gives us a bout of major importance in the heavyweight division with this one.

Gane, a French prospect, sports a superior physique, possesses profuse striking power and has risen to his No. 3 ranking with only eight professional MMA bouts after an undefeated seven-fight Muay Thai stint. He is gifted with tremendous athleticism, moving more like a fighter under 200 pounds than one who competes at 255.

Gane has displayed little wrestling, mostly because he has had superior striking ability over opponents, so we really don’t know the caliber of his ground game. But it is naive to think his coaches have not been drilling him on grappling and wrestling for some time.

Perhaps we have not seen him need to execute this approach to fighting, and if we are to witness Gane take the most efficient approach to this fight, we’ll watch him drag the massive Russian to the floor, get on top and smother him with damaging ground and pound.

Ciryl Gane (left) and Alexander Volkov stare each other down during the weigh-in in preparation or their UFC Vegas bout.
Ciryl Gane (left) and Alexander Volkov stare each other down during the weigh-in in preparation for their UFC Vegas 30 bout.
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Among his five UFC bouts, Gane, 31, has beaten Tanner Boser and Junior dos Santos, and most recently he made Jair Rozenstruik, the division’s sixth-ranked fighter, look timid when they battled in February. Respected MMA pundits agree Rozenstruik is a legitimate top-seven heavyweight.

The fifth-ranked Volkov, 32, has served hard time in the organization preparing for this opportunity. He possesses a wealth of professional experience and arrives as a fighter on the ascent, improving in each bout. Though the fighters’ arm reach is similar, Volkov is taller by 4 inches. That will be interesting, as Gane has not been in the cage with a fighter taller than Volkov.

Volkov’s major area for improvement is his takedown defense, because his ground acumen is lacking. What Volkov does well is use his size to maintain distance, which sets up his powerful leg kicks, knees and striking. He’s fully decorated in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Kyokushin karate and Tsu Shin Gen, a Japanese karate derivative that has techniques for standing combat and ground combat.

Volkov’s professional record is 33-8, with a 7-2 run in the UFC. He holds a vast experience edge. That, coupled with his size, his height and the momentum he will haul into this bout, make him an absolute threat to upset the Frenchman.

Should Gane display wrestling ability and control Volkov effectively with it, he would be on his way to a certain title fight, for this monster equipped with any decent form of ground skill would be scary.

However, if he’s as singularly dimensioned as Volkov and is forced to fight the taller man at his strength — on the feet in a Muay Thai/kickboxing competition — I think Volkov will have every chance to deliver Gane his PhD in MMA.

Gane opened -120, and I honestly thought Volkov might be the -120 chalk. At +100 I believe that Volkov would fairly priced, so as an underdog I must consider him as live in this spot.

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