Curtis Blaydes came into his main event fight with Alexander Volkov as the biggest favorite on the card and the top man in the heavyweight title picture outside the top trio of champion Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou. Blaydes was ultimately able to get a dominant win over Volkov, cementing his spot as a fringe contender for late 2020 or early 2021, but it's not a victory anyone is likely in a rush to relive.
Blaydes scored a takedown less than 10 seconds after the opening bell in the main event from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. That early takedown set the tone for the rest of the fight, with Blaydes holding Volkov down and landing a handful of punches to the head and knees to the legs of his Russian opponent. Blaydes would spend all five rounds executing takedown after takedown, setting a record for takedowns in a UFC heavyweight fight with 14.
Despite being clearly exhausted heading back to his corner after three rounds, Blaydes was able to continue controlling the action through his pressure grappling game, largely avoiding the strikes of Volkov and rendering his offense nonexistent.
It was not a pretty performance, but it was an effective one in a division that is thin on legitimate contenders beyond Ngannou once Cormier and Miocic settle their trilogy in August.
"Volkov was a lot harder than I thought to take down," Blaydes said following his win. "He had big, strong legs ... He was real strong. It's always good experience to know you can go five rounds and there's things you need to work on, but you get that win. I'm happy with the win, Volkov is legit and I'm one step closer to a title shot."
With the victory, Blaydes is now riding a four-fight winning streak. In his career, he has only suffered two losses, both to Ngannou.
Volkov is now 1-2 in his last three trips to the Octagon, beating Greg Hardy in between losses to Blaydes and Derrick Lewis.
In the co-main event, Josh Emmett gutted out an early knee injury to outpoint Shane Burgos for a decision win in what was easily the best Fight of the Night. The pair of featherweights traded heavy leather over 15 minutes with Emmett dropping Burgos twice with his powerful right hand. Despite the late damage done, Burgos seemed to not flinch at much of the power shots Emmett landed early on. The 35 year old is now 5-1 in his last six and on a three-fight winning streak.
CBS Sports was with you all night, bringing you results and highlights of all the action from Las Vegas. You can find all the highlights and recaps below.
Blaydes vs. Volkov fight card, results
- Curtis Blaydes def. Alexander Volkov via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-46)
- Josh Emmett def. Shane Burgos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
- Raquel Pennington def. Marion Reneau via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Belal Muhammad def. Lyman Good via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jim Miller def. Roosevelt Roberts via first-round submission (arm bar)
- Bobby Green def. Clay Guida via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Tecia Torres def. Brianna Van Buren via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Marc-Andre Barriault def. Oskar Piechota via second-round TKO (punches)
- Gillian Robertson def. Cortney Casey via third-round submission (rear naked choke)
- Justin Jaynes def. Frank Camacho via first-round TKO (punches)
- Lauren Murphy def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Austin Hubbard def. Max Rohskopf via second-round TKO (doctor stoppage)