UFC FIGHT NIGHT 115 PRIMER: Harris’s preview and predictions of Volkov vs. Struve headlined card

BY JOHN HARRIS, MMATorch Contributor

The dust has settled and the buzz has finally started to die down from the circus that was Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather. The fight ended as many predicted with Mayweather scoring a TKO victory in the 10th round. However, many were impressed with the effort of McGregor including myself. McGregor managed to land more punches than boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and even won the first three rounds according to the scorecard of official fight night judge Dave Moretti. The fight was considered a huge success for all sides involved. For the UFC it’s right back to business with UFC Fight Night 115 this Saturday. The event takes place in Rotterdam, Netherlands and will air on UFC Fight Pass. The main event will feature a heavyweight showdown between Alexander Volkov vs. Stefan Struve along with a main card full of up and coming UFC talent.

Main Card

Alexander Volkov (28-6) vs. Stefan Struve (28-8) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

The main event features two young heavyweights looking to find their way into the top 10 of the division as Stefan Struve takes on the Russia native Alexander Volkov. This should be a great main event as the 6’7″ Volkov will for once be the shorter man in the octagon against the 6’11” Struve, also known as the “SkyScraper.” Struve  is a veteran of the UFC, having made his debut at UFC 95 in 2009, at just the of age 21. He has fought the best the UFC has to offer and boasts a TKO win over current heavyweight champion Stipe Mioic. However, Struve seems to be at a breaking point in his career. He has yet to really come close to becoming a championship contender as I thought he would be at this point. Struve has yet to really develop a great jab or straight right that should come easy to a fighter with a 84.5″ reach. Struve has developed some nice leg kicks to go with his already excellent submission game. Struve will most likely need to get this fight to the ground if he wants to win against a very good striker like Volkov.

With a combination of front kicks and straight punches, Volkov has been able to use his height to his advantage in his MMA career with wins over the likes of Roy Nelson, Brett Rogers and Timothy Johnson. It will be interesting to see how he adapts going against a taller fighter. Struve will most likely struggle to get Volkov to the ground as Volkov has only been taken down twice in his two UFC fights. Struve will need to show patience in this fight and not get into a brawl with the more powerful Volkov. Struve has been known to become over aggressive and he does not have the chin to stand with Volkov. This fight is going to be a great measuring stick to see where both fighters are at in their careers. I am interested to see if Struve has learned from his previous mistakes and improved his stand up, and if Volkov’s striking style will still work against a taller and longer opponent. This one should be fun.

The Pick: Volkov by KO in the 2nd round

Talita de Oliveira (5-1) vs. Marion Reneau (7-3-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

This is a great chance for both women to make a name for themselves when they meet inside the cage of the co-main event in the Netherlands. Marion Reneau is a veteran of the UFC 125 pound division and has faced top contenders such as Holly Holm, Jessica Andrade and Bethe Correia. Most recently Reneau fought to a draw with Correia. The 40 year old Reneau has had her ups and downs inside the octagon and could really use a win to keep her spot in the division. She is an aggressive striker but just has not been able to match the athletic abilities of the top women in the division.

Talita de Oliveira is a relative unknown to most MMA fans. She is a replacement for injured former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, who was forced out of this fight just a few days ago. Four of de Oliveira’s five wins have came via submission. The Brazilian native will most likely try to get this fight to the ground instead of trying to stand and trade with the self proclaimed brawler, Reneau. I wasn’t able to find any video footage of Oliveira’s previous fight’s so I am intrigued to see what she is capable of. The UFC will always be in need of more women who can compete at a high level.

The Pick: Reneau by TKO in the 1st round

Siyar Bahadurzada (21-5-1) vs. Rob Wilkinson (11-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.

Undefeated Rob Wilkinson will enter the UFC octagon for the first time as he faces off against veteran Siyar Bahadurzada. The Australian native has great wrestling and loves to pressure his opponents against the fence before working for a takedown. He reminds me a little of a young Randy Couture with his style. Much like Couture, Wilkinson will need to really improve his striking game if he wants to become a top contender.

Bahadurzada has fought all over the world against a variety of competition and holds a 2-2 record under the UFC banner. He mostly recently earned a third round submission victory over Brandon Thatch.  Bahadurzada has excellent power in his hands with eleven career knockouts. Bahadurzada is going to be looking to land some big shots, more likely via uppercut, when Wilkinson starts to attempt to press him against the cage. Bahadurzada doesn’t have the strongest takedown defense so I think his only real chance of winning this fight will be to land some big shots with his hands and get Wilkinson in trouble.

The Pick: Wilkison by Unanimous Decision

Bryan Barberena (13-4) vs. Leon Edwards (13-3) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

The 26 year old Leon Edwards will look to extend his three fight win streak  in the 170 pound welterweight division as he faces off against the hard hitting Bryan Barberena. Edwards is very good striker when he has space to operate but don’t look for Barberena to allow that.  Barberena is not nearly as polished a striker as Edwards, but he has been able to connect on 49% of his significant strikes in his MMA career. Barberena will look to push the pace and keep constant pressure on Edwards. Edwards will look to pick Barberena apart on the feet with solid  straight rights and kicks from all angles. I really like this match up as both guys are in a position to move into the top 10-15 range in the welterweight division with a win.

The Pick: Edwards by split decision


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