Five for Fighting: UFC Fight Night – Blaydes vs. Volkov

UFC returns to the APEX this Saturday for one more night of fights before taking their maiden voyage to ‘Fight Island’. I’m here to give you a quick breakdown of some fights that tickle my fancy this weekend.

Roxanne Modafferi (24-16-0) vs. Lauren Murphy (12-4-0)

I’m quite surprised that this fight is so far down on the card. Roxy picked up a nice head of steam when she beat up undefeated Macy Barber in her last fight. Modafferi has had a stop, start kind of career as of late. She hasn’t had two victories on the bounce since 2017. That was before she entered the TUF house. She’ll look to buck that trend when she fights Lauren ‘Lucky’ Murphy this weekend.

Murphy on the other hand is on a two fight win streak. She picked up wins over Mara Romero Borella and in her last bout she beat Andrea Lee to a split decision. The John Crouch trained athlete also entered into the UFC through the TUF house. Ranked at #7, one below Modafferi, Murphy will see this as a great opportunity to jump into the top five of what is a threadbare division. Roxy also known as the ‘Happy Warrior’ will also see this as a good opportunity to springboard herself into title contention.

Quick Pick: Roxanne Modafferi

Clay Guida (35-19-0) vs. Bobby Green (24-10-1)

Any fight that Clay Guida is involved in, is madness. He’s already been inducted into the UFC’s Fight Wing in the Hall of Fame for his crazy bout with Diego Sanchez. He is a ball of energy and most fighters would be exhausted if they were to match his energy, from the walkout, to the fight, and after the bout. The Jackson/Wink fighter is in desperate need of a victory here only picking up one win from his last four bouts. That victory came against BJ Penn who is a shadow of his former self. He’s got a quirky unusual style that is wrestling heavy at times. I’m expecting him to use it here again against Bobby Green. If he wins I can see him doing so only on the judges’ scorecards.

Green is walking the plank here when it comes to being cut from roster. In his last six fights he has picked up just the one victory against Eric Koch. His style is quite unusual also. With a background in wrestling, he mostly chooses to stand and bang. With 9 submission wins and 8 KO wins on his record it shows he is a very well rounded fighter. He’ll have it all to here against veteran Guida if he is to get the win. Guida will look to move forward and pressure which is what Brown also likes too. This will be a battle to see who controls the centre of the cage and will be a fast paced exciting scrap.

Quick Pick: Clay Guida

Lyman Good (21-5-0) vs. Belal Muhammad (16-3-0)

Lyman Good was the first ever welterweight champion in Bellator’s history. Competing since 2005 and after losing his title to Ben Askren he had a couple of more bouts before moving to the TUF house for season 19 of the reality TV show. That didn’t go to plan for the New York native as he was eliminated in the first round. He bounced back with a couple of wins in the regional scene before the UFC came calling. Good, who would be considered a stand up specialist is making his sixth appearance in the octagon this Saturday night. He is coming off a devastating KO win over Chance Roundtree at UFC 244 last year. With a record of 3-2 in the UFC so far there isn’t too much room for error here for Good.

Belal Muhammad has been present in the UFC welterweight division for almost five years. The Duke Roufus trained fighter steps inside the octagon for the eleventh time when he squares off with Good. Primarily a stand up style fighter he likes to keep his distance and attack with kicks from the outside. That stylistic matchup between these two guys will be very interesting. Muhammad is on a two fight win streak and is a decision machine. He has victories over the likes of Jordan Mein, Randy Brown, Tim Means, Curtis Millender and Takashi Sato in his last bout. His only loss in his last seven bouts is against Geoff Neal and that man is an animal. Muhammad took him to a decision and I expect another decision to unfold in the APEX on Saturday night.

Quick Pick: Belal Muhammad

Josh Emmett (15-2-0) vs. Shane Burgos (13-1-0)

When you talk about Josh Emmett you talk about brute force and sickening power. The Team Alpha male warrior puts guys to sleep if he lands flush, with either hand. He had a relatively slow start to his UFC career where his picked up three decisions wins against Jon Tuck, Scott Holtzman and Felipe Arantes. He was on the wrong side of a decision to Des Green in a period of four fights. After that it was off to the races for the American when it became knock out or be knocked out.

Ricardo Lamas was first to feel the full brunt of Emmett’s power. The Sacramento native was on the receiving end of a bad knock out when he came up against Jeremy Stephens. Emmett returned after a year layoff where he dealt with injuries to face Michael Johnson and it was back to business after he’s flatlined Johnson with an overhand right walk off KO. In his last bout Team Sheehan’s boy Mirsad Bektić ate a jab and couldn’t hold on as Emmett went on to win by ground and pound TKO.

Shane Burgos is the man put forward to stop the Emmett steam train. The New Yorker is riding high coming into this bout after his most impressive victory against SBG fighter Makwan Amirkhani. He stopped ‘Mr. Finland’ in the third round to springboard himself into this bout. Burgos has only the one loss in his UFC career so far and that was a KO loss to Calvin Katter. With five KO’s and five submissions to his name the Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts trained fighter mainly like to keep it standing and use his boxing skills.

He moves forward and throws tight, crisp shots in the pocket but that would be a dangerous game plan to use here in my opinion. He will have to be wary big time of Emmett’s power one slip up could cost Burgos in this fight. It will be interesting to see if he has learned from previous fights where he does leave himself open and is will to take a shot to give a shot. He needs to change up that style if he is to get his hands raised Saturday night.

Quick Pick: Josh Emmett

Curtis Blaydes (13-2-0) vs. Alexander Volkov (31-7-0)

Last but not least is the main event of the evening. A heavyweight encounter between Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes and Alexander ‘Drago’ Volkov. Volkov is the second former Bellator champion on the card. He earned the strap by winning the Bellator season 7 heavyweight tournament. The Russian made his debut back in 2016 by defeating Tim Johnson and his fantastic moustache by split decision. After that he picked up a trio of impressive victories against Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve and Fabrício Werdum. A win against Derrick Lewis probably would have seen Volkov get a crack of the title. He was getting the job done but a game Lewis finished the six foot seven giant with 11 seconds left in the fight and that was that. His last bout was a lacklustre affair when he beat former NFL star Greg Hardy.

Curtis Blaydes comes into this encounter on a three fight win streak. He has fallen short twice in his career with both of those losses coming from number one contender Francis Ngannou. Blaydes has some decent victories under his belt. He has picked up victories over Alexey Oleinik, Justin Willis and Mark Hunt. His most impressive wins came against Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos. Against Overeem Blaydes surprised everyone with his ferocity and he battered ‘The Reem’ with elbows from the guard, strikes which caused a massive gash on the forehead of the Dutchman. Blaydes, who fight out of Elevation Fight Team was equally impressive in his last bout vs. dos Santos. We got to see his evolved striking against the battle worn former UFC champ. He outstruck ‘Cigano’ and in the second round he upped the pace and unleashed a barrage of strikes that finished the fight early in the second round. He will have to adjust to fighting the taller man here and I expect him to come at Volkov fast and furious. I’ll be surprised if this fight sees the final bell.

Quick Pick: Curtis Blaydes

UFC Fight Night takes place this Saturday night at the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The full card can be seen below.

UFC on ESPN 11 Main Event
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov

UFC on ESPN 11 Main Card
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Josh Emmett
135 lbs.: Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau
170 lbs.: Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad
155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Roosevelt Roberts

UFC on ESPN 11 Prelims Card
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Clay Guida
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Brianna Van Buren
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Oskar Piechota
125 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Gillian Robertson
155 lbs.: Frank Camacho vs. Justin Jaynes (Matt Frevola scratched)
125 lbs.: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Max Rohskopf

Ian O'Neill is the host of the SevereMMA UFC Preview show and one of the co-hosts of The Auld Triangle - Irish MMA podcast. You can find more of Ian's work on the SevereMMA Patreon where he co-hosts The Chasing Pack and The Contender. Follow him on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma

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