Alexander Volkov got back on the winning track after over a year away from competition, Saturday in his home of Moscow. The Russian heavyweight contender dominated late replacement and UFC rookie Greg Hardy in the co-main event of the Moscow event and earned a unanimous decision after three rounds.
Hardy last fought in October to a no-contest and replaced his American Top Team teammate Junior Dos Santos when the former world champion was pulled from the card with injury. The infamous former NFL player and convicted domestic abuser Hardy came into the fight having two of his first four UFC fights end in controversy.
He lost his debut early in the year via disqualification for an illegal knee and had his Oct. 18 decision win overturned after using an inhaler in between rounds. He rushed into this bout with the top-10 ranked Volkov and fought aggressively from the start, appearing to not be daunted by the moment at all.
Hardy swung big, wide punches at Volkov’s head from the start, while the Russian took a more measured approach. Hardy attempted a takedown early in the fight and then pressed Volkov against the cage before the striker was able to free himself.
For his part Volkov used kicks to the body and head before landing straight punches to the head of Hardy. The two big men traded jabs throughout much of the rest of the opening period before Volkov clipped Hardy on the jaw and Hardy responded with a hard hook to the head.
Volkov began the second round landing straight rear kicks to the body, keeping Hardy at bay. From there, Volkov connected with a lead roundhouse kick to the body.
Volkov continued to use his length to keep Hardy away for most of the round and punctuated the stanza with a check left punch that stunned Hardy.
Volkov began the final round with a push kick straight away and Hardy stormed in with punches that missed. The two once again traded jabs to the head while mostly circling into one another’s power.
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Volkov then landed rear roundhouse kicks to the lead leg of Hardy before breaking the pattern and going high with a third kick, landing it to the head. A right cross and left to the head followed from Volkov, and Hardy responded with aggressive punches that missed their mark.
Volkov soon landed a lead high kick to the head that wobbled Hardy, and followed up with lead leg kicks to the body and head in the final minute.
In the end, all three cageside judges scored the bout for Volkov with scores of 30-27. Afterward, he thanked his hometown crowd.
“I had a full year with a bad side of my career, but I’m back and I fought for every one of you,” he said.
The win improves Volkov’s record to 31-7. The defeat for Hardy is his second of the year and drops his overall pro record to 5-2-1.
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