The heavyweight division in the UFC feels as though things often move at a glacial pace as opposed to the other weight classes. For It's important, for that reason, that every heavyweight makes the most of all available opportunities. One such opportunity presents itself on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night from Las Vegas when Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov battle in a meeting of top-10 heavyweights.
A victory for Overeem would mean a three-fight winning streak for just the second time in a UFC career that dates back to his destructive knockout of Brock Lesnar in his December 2011 Octagon debut. Name value and a solid win streak can push a fighter into a title opportunity, as it did when Overeem earned a shot at heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in September 2016. Overeem hurt Miocic on the feet in the fight and locked up a guillotine choke that nearly won him the title, but Miocic came back to finish Overeem with strikes before the end of the opening round. Since then, Overeem's success has come in spurts, winning a few fights impressively before suffering knockout setbacks.
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If Overeem wants to get back to a title, he has to get past a tall task in Volkov. Standing at 6-foot-7, Volkov is one of the few fighters with a significant height advantage over the 6-foot-4 Overeem. After a four-fight winning streak to kick off his UFC career, Volkov seemed on the fast track to his own title shot as he was about to take a decision win over Derrick Lewis when Lewis scored a stunning comeback knockout with just 11 seconds left in the fight. After beating Greg Hardy, Volkov was again given a big stage. He was placed in a main event against Curtis Blaydes, losing a decision in a dull fight that did nothing to raise the profile of either man. A big knockout of Walt Harris set up the main event showdown with Overeem.
With Miocic set to defend his title in a rematch with Francis Ngannou this March -- and the champ having openly discussed retirement several times in recent years -- the division could soon undergo a major change. That may speed up the opportunities for title shots, or slow them down. At 40 years old, any delay could kill Overeem's chance for one final run at the title. At only 32, Volkov is on the younger side for top heavyweights, and seems content to follow any path to the championship, no matter how long it takes.
"For sure I will be champion in the future," Volkov said during media day for the event. "I'm feeling just that I'm getting better and better and going for the belt. It doesn't matter if it happens this year, the next or in two years. I'm going for this, and I'm (giving) everything in myself to get there."
This is a sneaky deep card for a Fight Night with big names littered around the event. Look no further than the co-main event where former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar continues to pursue a title fight in a third weightclass when he takes on Cory Sandhagen at bantamweight. Edgar made his 135-poun debut last year with a decision win over Pedro Munoz. But now, he'll get a top-five opponent where a win could catapult him to the front of the line in an already loaded division. Sandhagen, meanwhile, bounced back from his loss to top-ranked contender Aljamain Sterling with a vicious TKO of Marlon Moraes.
Below is a look at the fight card for this weekend's UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
Alexander Volkov -200
Alistair Overeem +170
Cory Sandhagen -410
Frankie Edgar +320
Michael Johnson -220
Clay Guida +180
|Alexandre Pantoja -120||Manel Kape +100||Flyweight|
|Beneil Dariush -110||Carlos Diego Ferreira -110||Lightweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Feb. 6 | Start time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: UFC APEX -- Las Vegas, Nevada
Alexander Volkov vs. Alistair Overeem: This fight may come down to which fighter can best minimize his flaws. Volkov can see his output dip as he becomes overly cautious. He should have easily handled Greg Hardy, but instead played it safe and won an uninspired decision. That same lack of output led to him being smothered and decisioned against Harris. Overeem tends to have good moments in basically every fight, but he also leaves himself open to big shots that have resulted in 14 knockout losses in his career. Volkov, when he lets his strikes go, is a finisher. The less exciting the fight, the better it may be fore Volkov if he can maintain distance, dictate pace and choose when to engage and take advantage of Overeem trying to force the action and leaving himself open to clean shots. Pick: Volkov via UD