If the past year has been any indication, Alexander Volkov appears poised for one more run at an elusive heavyweight title shot.
Volkov (37-10) scored his third consecutive stoppage win on Saturday in Sydney, Australia, by submitting fan favorite Tai Tuivasa on home soil in Round 2 of their UFC 293 co-main event.
The 34-year-old native of Russia improved to 11-4 since making his Octagon debut in 2016 by relying on his 6-foot-7 frame to land heavy right hand counter shots throughout that bloodied and wore down the brawling style of Tuivasa (14-6).
Outside of a steady stream of calf kicks that left Volkov’s lead left leg discolored, Tuivasa was largely ineffective while suffering his third straight defeat, all three by stoppage, following a 10-month layoff.
“I didn’t expect him [to be] so tough,” Volkov said. “I hit him with so many punches and he was still on his legs throwing low kicks. He was so tough.”
Tuivasa, 30, was unable to connect clean with his powerful right hand as Volkov mixed in body kicks and a heavy jab to keep him at range. Volkov dropped Tuivasa twice in Round 1 and landed a flurry of clean punches to hurt him before the bell.
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Despite pleas from Tuivasa’s corner before Round 2 about how close his team felt he was to compromising Volkov’s leg, the former Bellator heavyweight champion stayed on his feet throughout Round 2 until he dropped Tuivasa and took over top position on the ground.
Volkov quickly moved to full mount and systematically weakened Tuivasa with elbows and hammer fists until he secured an Ezekial choke to produce a tap at 4:37 of the second round.
The submission win was Volkov’s first 2016 before his UFC debut.