WE ARE BACK! After having a weekend without fights, it feels great to anticipate another UFC card. This Saturday Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov are set to face off in a potential title qualifying match. Whoever wins this is one step closer to becoming UFC Heavyweight Champion. In the co-main event Cory Sandhagen will be fighting Frankie Edgar. Both fighters are coming off of outstanding performances in their previous 135lb contests. Each fighter, much like in the main event, are looking for UFC gold. For Edgar it’s another shot at the title and for Sandhagen a chance to enter the conversation for his first title shot. Come Saturday night we’ll see who takes one step closer to gold. Here is the path to victory of the four men involved in the co-headliner and headliner.
Co-Main Event – Cory Sandhagen vs Frankie Edgar
Cory “The Sandman” Sandhagen
13-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC | 5 (T)KOs 3 submissions | 5’11” (180cm) | 70” Reach
Currently sitting at #3 in the bantamweight rankings, Cory Sandhagen is chasing UFC gold much like most fighters. However, he was late entering the sport at 16 years of age. Before stepping foot into Team Elevation, “The Sandman” was a basketball player in high school. The former basketball player is looking to be triumphant come Saturday night.
Path to Victory
In Sandhagen’s previous performance against Marlon Moraes, he introduced a new set of tools in his arsenal winning via spinning heel kick. The Colorado native showed he’s been improving on his skills and will look to showcase more of that skill-set on Saturday.
Cory Sandhagen lands a spinning heel kick on former title challenger, Marlon Moraes.
Sandhagen will look to use his improved kickboxing to claim his path to victory. His long limbs will help him keep Frankie Edgar at range to avoid being taken down. “The Sandman” can look to utilize his combos to set up leg kicks that will take away the takedown attempts of Edgar’s wrestling.
Lastly, Sandhagen’s footwork will help him to stay away from the cage. Edgar will be looking to use the cage in order to take him down. If Sandhagen can cut angles and control the center of the octagon with his Dominick Cruz like footwork he will be able to control the fight on the feet. This will be key in order to capture success come fight night.
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar
24-8 MMA, 18-8 UFC | 7(T)KOs 4 Submissions | 5’6” (168cm) | 68” Reach
“The Answer” (Not to be confused with the Hall-of-Fame former NBA player Allen Iverson), but the MMA icon Frankie Edgar will be standing opposite Sandhagen on Saturday. He is the former UFC Lightweight Champion, former UFC Featherweight title challenger and currently ranked at #4 in the UFC Bantamweight division.
He’s a walking legend that everyone in the MMA community knows and respects. He’s fought and defeated the likes of BJ Penn (3x), Urijah Faber, Charles Oliveira, Gray Maynard and Yair Rodriguez.
Looking to regain a UFC title, Frankie Edgar is one of the oldest men in the bantamweight division. At 39 years old, the New Jersey native looks to add another upset to his resume against Cory Sandhagen at the UFC’s Apex Center on Saturday.
Path to Victory
In his previous fight against Pedro Munhoz, Edgar used a lot of boxing rather than his elite wrestling that he’s known for. However, in order to beat Sandhagen, Edgar will need to employ his wrestling base and push the pace much more than he did against Munhoz. In his fight against Yair Rodriguez, the former champion dominated the fight by using his wrestling, relentless pace and vicious ground and pound.
Frankie Edgar reigning down punches on Yair Rodriguez at UFC 211
Edgar has the potential to take the fight to the ground, but his counterpart isn’t a slouch on the mat either. “The Answer” will need to find a way to get in good positions on the ground. From there he will need to unleash his ferocious strikes from top position, while also avoiding being caught in a submission.
The former champion will need to utilize the cage as often as possible. He will need to have Sandhagen’s head always facing towards the fence, and grind him with his constant pressure and ground and pound. Edgar will want to be in half guard, side control, or back mount while smothering his opponent against the cage with a barrage of strikes. He will want to continue to press him and keep this fight on the ground. This will be key in order to claim his path to victory.
Main Event – Alistair Overeem vs Alexander Volkov
Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem
47-18 MMA, 12-7 UFC | 25 (T)KOs 17 Submissions | 6’4” (193cm) | 80” Reach
The list of accomplishments for “The Reem” are endless: Former UFC title challenger, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Dream Heavyweight Champion, and K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and many more. When it comes to Alistair Overeem, he’s substantially accomplished more then most combat sport athletes. “The Reem” is one of two people to hold a title in both MMA and K-1 Kickboxing simultaneously!
A true veteran of the sport, Overeem has been fighting since the 1990’s. Most people fighting for so long would have retired at this point, but not “Demolition Man”. Not only does he still compete, he’s currently ranked 5th in the UFC heavyweight rankings and is looking to make one more run at UFC gold.
Path to Victory
As of late Overeem has had a change in his approach to fighting. He’s using a lot of foot work to maintain distance and will blitz his opponents. Much like Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in his last few fights. He takes the least amount of damage while inflicting maximum damage. This will be a key component of his gameplan come Saturday night.
Alistair Overeem marching forward to finish UFC Heavyweight Walt Harris
Another critical part of Overeem winning his fight will be to utilize the cage. Overeem must control Volkov against the cage with the Muay Thai clinch. He will need batter him with a storm of knees to the body and monstrous elbows to the face. As he bombards Volkov with the series of strikes he can then look to attempt take him down.
Volkov is known to get dominated on the ground and Overeem has an extremely underrated ground game. If Overeem can get this fight to the ground early, Volkov will be flustered and start to gas out slowly. Having Volkov tired will be able to slow down his attacks and allow Overeem to work his blitz attacks. This would favor Overeem in later rounds where he can search for a finish or unanimous decision win.
Alexander “Drago” Volkov
32-8 MMA, 6-2 UFC | 21 (T)KOs 3 submission | 6’7” (201cm) | 81” Reach
The #6 ranked UFC heavyweight Volkov, like his foe is a former champion in two respectable promotions. He was a champion in Bellator and M-1 Global. The Russian has a very high finishing rate and always looks to dominate on the feet.
“Drago” is the only guy to have a finish over Blagoy Ivanov, a fighter who is known to be tough and never get finished. This shows that Volkov possesses a ton of power. Now he is set to face the legendary Overeem in a 5 round bout Saturday night. This will get him one step closer to adding the UFC title to his list of accolades.
Path to Victory
Alexander Volkov has a 75% finish rate with most of those finishes coming from his elite striking. He will need to keep this fight on the feet and be patient. He will need to pick apart Overeem with counters and front kicks to the body.
Alexander Volkov TKOs Walt Harris in the second round of their UFC 254 bout
The Russian will have to be able to maneuver around the cage to avoid the clinch. The problem with being able to move around the cage is the UFC Apex Center is notorious for being a smaller cage. This tends to favor wrestlers and fighters who utilize the cage.
He will need to find his range early and keep Overeem at distance with his teep kicks. If Overeem decides to blitz, Volkov will need to be ready and fire off counter right hands. Everything he does will be to keep his opponent at range and just slowly pick Overeem apart. He must avoid being backed into the cage and try to control the center of the octagon.
All in all, Volkov has to keep the fight standing and take the fight slowly. He must be ready to counter the blitzes of his Dutch opponent. He needs to use his long limbs to keep his opponent at striking distance.
UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov will air Saturday, February 6th on ESPN and ESPN+ beginning at 5pm ET. Watch the fights and see who the winners are. Most importantly tune in to see if they can execute on their “Path To Victory”.