“Drago” Volkov, The Man To Beat Ngannou

After Francis Ngannou's Knockout win against Stipe Miocic, we look forward to Drago's title run, in which Drago hopes to take away the belt.
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
If he dies, he dies!

Drago takes no prisoners.

Alexander Volkov has few fights where he is not doing whatever he pleases.

Since his Curtis Blaydes defeat, Volkov has shown that he is truly among the heavyweight elite.

Drago has the ability to touch his opponent at any time in the fight when they are standing.

He understands how to use his reach, his opponent’s strengths, and weaknesses, and effectively capitalize when his opponents make mistakes.

Drago’s Evolution

Overwhelming Drago vs. The Demolition Man (47-18)

In his fight in February against Overeem, Volkov weighed in 264 pounds and looked deadly.

His fight camp focused on his muscle and strength development. It paid off, with Volkov earning a KO/TKO second-round victory.

In Alistair Overeem’s build-up to the fight, he declared this as his last title run.

In his last 5 fights, he was 4-1, and that one loss was a controversial one where he would have won the fight if the referee did not call the fight off with four seconds to go.

Volkov is a calculated striker, and Overeem was a sitting target as Volkov landed at will. He punished ‘The Reem’ with inside low calf kicks and gruesome body kicks.

Overeem was trying to get inside range by blitzing and engaging in the clinch, but he was not effective. Volkov dictated the rule of engagement made Overeem pay for closing the distance.

Drago fought at range to demolish the Demolition Man; this is a skill set few MMA heavyweights have possessed in history.

Lean Drago vs. The Big Ticket (13-8)

While Drago weighed more in this fight than his Overeem fight, his fight game plan focused on his agility rather than his brute strength.

Walt Harris was self-proclaiming that he was the best striker in the heavyweight division leading up to the fight.

Volkov gloriously pursued Harris with irreverent aggression after scoffing at Harris’ claim. The victory was made sweeter when he essentially finished Harris with a body shot, an embarrassing end for any high level striker.

Walt Harris notoriously starts fast. In the first couple minutes of the first round, he was throwing heavy strikes, leg kicks, and more. Little did ‘The Big Ticket’ know, Volkov was prepared for this.

Volkov stalks his opponents.

As soon as he read Harris’ mechanics and how he wanted to go about the fight, he countered.

Around 3:45 left in the first round, Drago’s first counter landed, and the fight began. Throughout this minute exchange, every attack Harris tried to land was explosively countered, stunning Harris.

This immediately changed Harris’s gameplan to stay on the outside, take fewer risks, and wait for Volkov to come to him.

Volkov was also prepared for that, as he started setting up his body kicks while mixing in his faints and jabs.

And it paid off in the end as he earned a second-round TKO due to a devastating body kick.

Drago’s Path to the Title

With Volkov ranked #5 in the Heavyweight Division, he still has a ways to go before earning a title shot.

I believe that Volkov is about 2-3 fights away from a title fight, given the logjam at heavyweight right now.

Here are the fights that make sense for him to get his title shot against Ngannou.

Drago versus Bon Gamin

Two unicorns of the division, this stylistic matchup would be exciting to watch.

We know that Volkov will not fight Gane as Rozenstruik fought him, and Gane cannot just stay on the outside and win on points against Volkov.

The movement and IQ of Ciryl Gane (8-0) would cause any heavyweight fighter problems.

Just like Bon Gamin, Drago is one of the most agile fighters in the heavyweight division. We had seen Volkov’s evolution right in front of us, where he is stronger, faster, and smarter now at 264 pounds, as opposed to when he was fighting at 251 pounds.

Volkov has power that Gane lacks. With the clear striking advantage going to Volkov and the reach and height advantages, Gane’s gameplan would heavily consist of wrestling and getting Volkov to the ground.

It remains to be seen that Ciryl can do that to the division’s upper echelon, let alone Volkov.

Drago versus The Black Beast 2

To settle the doubters, a Derrick Lewis (25-7) rematch is all Volkov wants.

Volkov was on his way to a shut-out win against Derrick Lewis. Volkov out-landed Lewis 133 strikes to 40.

Unfortunately, Volkov was complacent in the last few seconds of their fight, and ended up getting knocked out with seconds to spare.

With Volkov now improved, smarter, and stronger, I see him finishing Lewis the next time they fight each other.

Drago versus “The Greatest Heavyweight of All Time”

Stipe Miocic (20-4) is looking for a win to earn a title rematch after his defeat from Ngannou.

Enters Alexander Volkov in his way of letting that happen.

Alexander has wanted this fight ever since his knockout win against Stefan Struve (28-8) in late 2017.

Volkov is a dangerous opponent for Stipe, just as Stipe is to Volkov.

Stipe has great wrestling skills, power in his hands, and great endurance. Volkov has the advantage of being longer than Stipe, which has always been a problem for Miocic in his career.

For Volkov to win, he needs to focus on his leg kicks, and most importantly, control and keep the fight on the feet.

For Stipe to win, he needs to take Volkov to the ground and stay away from punching exchanges.

Drago versus The Predator

Not many people can make Ngannou – the most powerful puncher we have seen in the UFC – look small. Volkov does!

Standing at 6’7, now weighing in at the heavyweight limit of 264 pounds, defeating Volkov will be tough.

Volkov is up for the challenge, as we have seen from the previous tweet exchange between the two.

If Volkov eventually gets his chance to fight Francis, he will have to get through formidable opponents that will prepare him for the mayhem that will ensue against Ngannou.

At the same time, nothing can truly prepare you for Ngannou.

With Volkov being strictly a stand-up fight or kickboxer, this fight will remain on the feet.

Just like we have seen in Volkov’s fight against Derrick Lewis, all it can take is one punch to change the fight in Ngannou’s favor.

With that in mind, Volkov knows how to use his range, has great kicks, and is always patient.

It will be a great fight for both competitors.