SYDNEY – UFC heavyweight Alexander Volkov wants to forge a path toward the title, and hopes to be as active as possible to achieve that goal.
At UFC 293, Volkov (37-10 MMA, 11-4 UFC) extended his current winning streak to three by pulling off a rare Ezekiel choke submission on Tai Tuivasa (15-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) in the second round of the co-main at Qudos Bank Arena. It was Volkov’s first submission under the UFC banner and just the fourth Ezekiel choke in the promotion’s history. While happy with how everything unfolded, the Russian was perplexed by being snubbed on a Performance of the Night bonus.
“First of all, I don’t know why I don’t have any bonuses tonight,” Volkov told MMA Junkie and other reporters during a post-fight news conference. “All the fans and comments I saw were saying this. It was my very first submission in the UFC. It was a very good performance with striking with a very dangerous striker. All Australians were supporting him, so I don’t know why I don’t have any bonuses.”
The last time Volkov won by submission was in 2016, two fights prior to his UFC debut. He’s no slouch in the grappling department, but the 6-foot-7 fighter typically utilizes his striking range advantage in fights. He even admitted he doesn’t practice the Ezekiel choke often, but the opportunity was there when other techniques failed.
“Not really, I just know how to do this,” Volkov said when asked if he routinely practices the technique. “I tried to do some submissions to Tuivasa first, like a top arm triangle and guillotine, but it doesn’t work. He was a little bit like slippery and he was ready for the submissions. I saw the Ezekiel choke, and if it worked with him, I just did it.”
Vokov, 34, has now stopped three straight opponents; Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Romanov by TKO, and Tai Tuivasa by submission. With 48 fights under his belt, Volkov knows his time to make one last run at the UFC title is now. He wants to be active, and wouldn’t mind attempting to avenge a loss to Tom Aspinall.
“I want to fight as much as possible to get back into the title race,” Volkov said. “I’m ready to fight at the end of the year or maybe at the beginning of next year. … I’m enjoying camps, I’m enjoying practice, enjoying learning new things. I have a lot of fights, as you know I have almost 50, but I keep learning new things and I’m really motivated. I’m feeling like I have everything to be a champion.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.