The UFC once again will take place out of the Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for a Fight Night card headlined by a title eliminator between rising star Ciryl Gane and perennial Heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov. The UFC loves to pit a bunch of Heavyweights against each other when they host from the Apex Center and this card is another prime example of that. Expect some nasty finishes and plenty of entertainment despite the card being devoid of big-name stars. We take a look at three key match ups below.
I could not have been more impressed with what Gane has done since joining the UFC. He has showcased both his striking and ground skills getting finishes by strikes, submissions and by decision. When Gane steps into the cage it is hard to believe he has had less than 10 professional fights, due to his high fight IQ and comfortability in the Octagon. Gane is coming into this bout off of a unanimous decision win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik in February. His opponent Alexander Volkov is the atypical ‘gatekeeper’ of the Heavyweight division. He only fights current or potential contenders and only loses to the very best of the division. His height and range make him a difficult foe to defeat and fights with Volkov are a great marker of where a future contender is at.
The blueprint route to victory against Volkov is to land strong takedowns and put him flat on his back and work from top control. Although Gane does have slick ground work, he still doesn’t have the wrestling chops to put faith in him executing that gameplan. However, despite a stand-up fight being what Volkov wants, I still see Gane getting the better of him in those exchanges. Gane’s kickboxing background means he can stay at kicking range, just out of reach of Volkov and he has the strength to play a clinch game if he gets backed up by Volkov’s forward boxing pressure. This fight is a fantastic fight for Gane, who with a win, likely puts him one fight away from a title shot in what is a clouded Heavyweight division.
Nzechukwi is still incredibly green in the fight game but he is learning and improving vastly fight to fight. He lost his debut by submission to Paul Craig but has since bounced back with two straight wins. Marques’ game plan will be simple, take him down and submit him but that will be hard to do against a man with the strength of Nzechukwu.
The Nigerian will most likely be able to keep this on the feet and punish Marques every time he gets into range and when it does he flatlines Marques, somewhere around the 5 minute mark.
This fight will be fun. Prachino entered the UFC on an eight-fight win streak but had as bad a start to a UFC tenure as you can have, being knocked out in round 1 in three consecutive fights. He somewhat salvaged his UFC career for a little while longer last time out beating Khalil Rountree earlier this year. However, that was anything but an easy watch as he was still almost knocked out by Rountree, who had no gas tank whatsoever due to a horror weight cut.
Although Villanueva is anything but an elite Heavyweight, he still should be able to come up trumps in a fight he is a surprisingly clear underdog in. He is nothing special as evident by his 0-2 start to his UFC career but as he showed in his last fight against Vinicius Moreira he can be patient until an opportunity presents to land the telling blow. Back Villanueva in a war of attrition but don’t expect to see either man in the UFC for much longer.
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