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Alexander
Volkov
stood in his belltower, tracked Alistair
Overeem
’s approach, trained his sights, slowed his breathing
and pulled the trigger. It was a well-planned, well-orchestrated
and well-executed attack.

The former Bellator
MMA
and M-1 Global
titleholder made another strong strategic move in his quest for
gold in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
heavyweight division, as he cut
down Overeem with precision punches in the second round of their

UFC Fight Night 184
headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in
Las Vegas. Volkov brought it to an emphatic close 2:06 into Round
2, having beaten his counterpart bloody and senseless.

Overeem mustered little in terms of meaningful resistance. Volkov
made use of the smaller cage, trapped the Dutchman along the fence
and flurried with power punches in a dominant first round. The
abrasions and cuts on Overeem’s face told the tale and set the
stage for what followed. Volkov ramped up his intensity in Round 2,
where he battered “The Demolition Man” with jabs and mixed in crisp
one-twos. A straight right-left hook combination dropped Overeem to
all fours midway through the period, prompting referee Jason Herzog
to act in order to prevent further abuse.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Overeem vs. Volkov,” here are
four matches that ought to be made:

Alexander
Volkov
vs. Jairzinho
Rozenstruik
-Ciryl Gane
winner:
Volkov’s physical transformation—he has packed 15
pounds onto his menacing 6-foot-7 frame since he made his UFC debut
in November 2016—has turned him into harrowing proposition for
anyone in the heavyweight division. While his losses to Curtis
Blaydes
and Derrick
Lewis
, along with the pending arrival of Jon Jones,
likely preclude him from an immediate post-Overeem title shot, the
Russian has put himself in prime position for a run at the top in
the not-too-distant future; and at just 32 years of age, he has
plenty of time to further sharpen what are already world-class
standup skills. Rozenstruik will lock horns with the undefeated
Gane in the UFC Fight Night 186 main event on Feb. 27.

Cory
Sandhagen
vs. Petr
Yan
Aljamain
Sterling
winner:
A lightning bolt pushed Sandhagen to
the front of the line at 135 pounds, as he knocked out Frankie
Edgar
with a flying knee less than a minute into their
co-headliner. Edgar hit the deck 28 seconds into Round 1, the
unwitting victim in the sixth-fastest knockout in the history of
the bantamweight division. No follow-up shots were required.
Sandhagen, 28, has rebounded from his June 6 submission defeat to
Sterling with back-to-back knockouts, his ambush on Edgar coming on
the heels of his spinning wheel kick finish of former
World Series of Fighting
champion Marlon
Moraes
some four months earlier. The presumed No. 1 contender
can now sit back and wait for the situation in front of him to play
out. Yan will defend the undisputed bantamweight crown against the
aforementioned Sterling at UFC 259 on March 6.

Alexandre
Pantoja
vs. Alex
Perez
:
An often-forgotten piece of the UFC’s flyweight
puzzle, Pantoja spoiled the long-awaited promotional debut of
Manel
Kape
by taking a three-round unanimous decision from the former

Rizin Fighting Federation
champion. Scores were 29-28, 29-28
and 30-27. Pantoja outlanded the Octagon newcomer by significant
margins in the first and second rounds, then broke even in the
third. The 30-year-old
American Top Team
export has rattled off 16 wins across his
last 19 appearances, losing only to Dustin
Ortiz
, Askar
Askarov
and Deiveson
Figueiredo
—men with a combined record of 51-9-2. Pantoja
remains one of the UFC’s best at 125 pounds. Perez has not competed
since November, when he submitted to first-round guillotine choke
from Figueiredo in a failed attempt to unseat the flyweight
champion at UFC 255.

Beneil
Dariush
vs. Rafael dos
Anjos
:
Dariush moved to 2-0 in his head-to-head series
with Diego
Ferreira
, as he laid claim to a split decision over the

Fortis MMA
-trained Brazilian in their three-round lightweight
rematch. All three judges scored it 29-28: Dave Hagen
and Chris Lee for
Dariush, Jerin Valel
for Ferreira. Tossed aside by many observers after his stunning
42-second knockout loss to
Alexander
Hernandez
in March 2018, the resilient Dariush has since pieced
together an impressive six-fight winning streak to return to
prominence at 155 pounds. Dos Anjos, who once trained alongside
Dariush at
Kings MMA
, returned to the lightweight division on Nov. 14,
when he was awarded a split verdict over Paul Felder
in the UFC Fight Night 182 main event.


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