Tai Tuivasa weighs in before UFC Adelaide bout

Alexander “Drago” Volkov has been a perineal top 10 heavyweight for several years. He debuted in the UFC back in 2016 and has only lost to the absolute top of the division. During his impressive tenure, Volkov has earned 10 wins, 6 via knockout.

One of the most entertaining fighters on the roster, Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa, is 8-5 in the UFC with 7 knockouts. While his record is not overly impressive on paper, it’s important to note that once he started training full-time, Tuivasa has gone 5-2 in the UFC, winning all by knockout inside of the first 7 minutes.

Betting Odds

Volkov opened south of a -200 favorite but has grown north of that number throughout the week.

  • Alexander Volkov: -250 (BetUS)
  • Tai Tuivasa: +205 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Volkov is one of the tricker fighters to figure out and even trickier fighter to find success against in the UFC. He is massively tall, 6’7, and has an 80″ reach. While other fighters in other divisions have a significant height and reach advantage, few others utilize their height and reach advantage as effectively as Volkov. “Drago” has a stiff jab, a phenomenal front kick, and the footwork to bounce in and out of range where he can land his shots without absorbing many counters. Volkov has a 57% striking accuracy rate, a 53% striking defense percentage, and lands nearly 5 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 3.

His size advantage, technical range boxing, and footwork are all keys to those impressive numbers. But, more importantly, is what Volkov can do when an opponent successfully closes that distance and crashes range. He has devastating hooks and uppercuts in the pocket and lethal knees once in the clinch. Volkov tends to struggle against two archetypes of heavyweights. The first is an elite grappler who can take and hold down the towering presence of Volkov. The second, and much more relevant type, are elite-level power punchers who can force a toe to toe brawl and have the durability to go shot for shot with the big man. Only 4 UFC heavyweights have ever beaten Volkov; but, those that have typically follow one of those paths.

Tuivasa is electric in the cage, on the cage with a “shoey,” and after a fight. The man is allergic to being boring and he fights like it. No matter his opponent, no matter how the matchup aligns on paper, and no matter the circumstances surrounding the fight, Tuivasa fights the exact same way every time. Tuivasa will leg kick a bit early, looking to force a more stationary target. Then, once he does, if Tuivasa is the one moving forward, he swings overhand rights and massive hooks until either he gets the knockout or is finished himself. His goal is to push a damaged opponent against the cage where he can trap his opponent and tee off.

In fights where he gets pushed back to the cage, the strategy is still the same: swing and swing big. Tuivasa has enormous raw power, excellent durability, and a knack for finding the off-switch. Recently, though, Tuivasa has been dropped and finished. While both fights came against two of the upper echelon of the division, a heavyweight brawler getting knocked out back-to-back times does raise at least a yellow flag of caution.

Fight Prediction

This fight, unsurprisingly, is going to come down to range. If Volkov can keep Tuivasa at the end of his 80″ reach, he should be able to pick Tuivasa apart; and, eventually, find the chin. However, if Tuivasa can successfully crash distance and force this fight in the pocket or against the cage, then the Australian power puncher should get the knockout. In either case, I fully suspect this fight to end quickly. Both men have shown impressive durability and power in their career, but Tuivasa has been knocked out in back-to-back fights. So, another clean shot could end his night. I do lean his side in this one though. The primary reason is the number. Getting 2:1 odds in what should be a wild brawl is excellent value. Couple that with “Bam Bam” having the edge in raw power and I’ll gladly take the plus-money.

Best Bet: Tuivasa to win (+205)

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