UFC Fight Night 163: Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar - Predictions and Picks
#2 Alexander Volkov vs. Greg Hardy
Former NFL player Greg Hardy is rare for a prospect in that UFC fans have been begging to see him thrown to the wolves practically since he made his full debut in the promotion in January. Usually most fans like to see prospects built slowly, but Hardy is so hated due to his controversial background involving domestic violence that the norm can basically be thrown out of the window when it comes to his treatment.
Realistically, the UFC were probably going to continue to build him slowly anyway; he’s fought four times in 2019 already, beating Dmitry Smoliakov, Juan Adams and Ben Sosoli in largely one-sided, but not massively impressive fashion after dropping his Octagon debut to Allen Crowder via disqualification.
The only reason we’re seeing him fight Alexander Volkov – a bonafide contender at Heavyweight who was inches away from a title shot in 2018 – is because he was willing to take the fight on short notice when Junior Dos Santos withdrew due to a leg injury. Quite why Hardy wanted to step in is anyone’s guess; does he believe in his skills that much? Or is he simply happy to do a favour for the UFC?
Either way, he essentially has a puncher’s chance here but little else. Usually at a massive size advantage in the Octagon, ‘The Prince of War’ is a genuinely tremendous athlete, and he hits pretty hard, although you’d have to say his knockout power has been somewhat overstated thus far into his UFC tenure.
Unfortunately, he’s also shown a bad penchant for running out of gas; he looked exhausted against Crowder midway through the first round, and tired out so badly against Sosoli that he needed to use an inhaler between rounds – something that was judged to be illegal and ended up costing him his victory. His ground game also looked severely lacking in that Crowder fight, although admittedly he may have improved since.
Volkov though will surely be a step too far for the former NFL man. ‘Drago’ will be the first opponent Hardy has faced to actually have a size advantage on him; the Russian stands at 6’7” and just about makes the 265lbs Heavyweight limit, and unlike the bulky Hardy, he’s actually svelte for a big man.
He’s also surprisingly fast, nimble on his feet, and he knows how to make the most of his massive size and reach, throwing long punches and kicks from a distance at his opponents to keep them at bay before looking to catch them on the end of something more powerful.
We haven’t seen all that much of Volkov on the ground in the UFC, but in his Bellator career he also showed plenty of skill there, being able to reverse positions and make the most of his length on the ground too; he submitted current UFC contender Blagoy Ivanov with a rear naked choke in 2014, for instance.
Is it worrying that he hasn’t fought since that frankly ridiculous knockout loss at the hands of Derrick Lewis just over a year ago? I guess so, but then it’s also notable that he’s now had plenty of time to recover, and outside of that KO – at the hands of one of the heaviest hitters in the game – he’s never been cleanly knocked out before and has recovered from some insane punishment in the past.
For me unless Hardy knocks him out in the first exchange of the fight – and given he couldn’t do that to Sosoli or Crowder, there’s no reason to suspect that’ll happen here – then this should comfortably be Volkov’s fight to lose. I suspect Hardy will try too hard to knock him out before running out of steam – and becoming easy pickings for ‘Drago’.
The Pick: Volkov via second round TKO