Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov

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Last week Dan Ige was outmatched, outclassed and outpointed by a much more experienced Chan Sung Jung, also known as the Korean Zombie, in the main event of UFC Las Vegas 29. Though Ige’s movement and toughness were exceptional, the Zombie measured Ige and blistered him from distance, using jabs to set up takedowns, grappling and precision striking.

Insight the Octagon dropped 1.1u, so the 2021 tally is: 18-10 + 10.68u.

This week UFC Las Vegas 30 presents an 11-fight slate featuring heavyweights for the main and co-main events. Let’s break them down.

Ciryl Gane -175 vs. Alexander Volkov + 155

heavyweights (265 pounds), main event

The UFC gives us a bout of major importance in the heavyweight division with this one.

Gane, a French prospect, sports a superior physique, possesses profuse striking power and has risen to his No. 3 ranking with only eight professional MMA bouts after an undefeated seven-fight Muay Thai stint. He is gifted with tremendous athleticism, moving more like a fighter under 200 pounds than one who competes at 255.

Gane has displayed little wrestling, mostly because he has owned superior striking ability over opponents, so we really don’t know the caliber of his ground game. But it is naive to think his coaches have not been drilling him on grappling and wrestling for some time.

Perhaps we have not seen him need to execute this approach to fighting, and if we are to witness Gane take the most efficient approach to this fight, we’ll watch him drag the massive Russian to the floor, get on top and smother him with damaging ground and pound.  

Among his five UFC bouts, Gane has beaten Tanner Boser and Junior dos Santos, and most recently he made Jair Rozenstruik, the division’s sixth-ranked fighter, look timid when they battled in February. Respected MMA pundits agree that Rozenstruik is a legitimate top-seven heavyweight.

The fifth-ranked Volkov has served hard time in the organization preparing for this opportunity. He possesses a wealth of professional experience and arrives as a fighter on the ascent, for he has been improving in each bout. Though arm reach is similar, Volkov is taller by 4 inches. That will be interesting, as Gane has not been in the cage with a fighter taller than him.

Volkov’s major area of improvement is his takedown defense, for his ground acumen is lacking. What Volkov does well is use his size to maintain distance, which sets up his powerful leg kicks, knees and striking. He’s fully decorated in BJJ, Kyokushin karate and Tsu Shin Gen, a Japanese karate derivative that has techniques for standing combat and ground combat.

Volkov’s professional record is 33-8, with a 7-2 run in the UFC. He will hold a vast experience edge. That coupled with his size and height and the momentum he hauls into this bout make him an absolute threat to upset the Frenchman.

Should Gane display wrestling ability and control Volkov effectively with it, I would say Gane would be on his way to a certain title fight, for this monster equipped with any decent form of ground skill is scary.

However, if he’s as singularly dimensioned as Volkov and is forced to fight the taller man at his strength — on the feet in a Muay Thai/kickboxing competition — I think Volkov will have every chance to deliver Gane his PhD in MMA.

Gane opened -120, and I honestly thought Volkov might be the -120 chalk. At + 100 I believe that Volkov is fairly priced, but at + 155 or higher I must regard him as live in this spot.

Volkov + 155 lean.

I respect Gane’s athleticism, but if the price on Volkov rises much higher, I’ll be forced to commit to the underdog. Any release made before Friday will be sent via @Twitter, and I’ll tag @VSiNLive also.

Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds, pick-’em.

Tanner Boser -160 vs. Ovince Saint Preux + 140

heavyweights (265 pounds), co-main event

This is a very unusual setup, as Saint Preux is really a light-heavyweight, but he’ll take this fight in the heavyweight division on short notice. His scheduled light-heavyweight opponent for Saturday had visa problems and was unable to make it to the U.S.

The UFC also managed to get Boser to step in on short notice. The issue is that Boser just fought a couple of weeks ago and is a heavyweight. Saint Preux agreed to take the fight up a weight class, as he has been preparing to fight for six weeks and wanted to ensure he had a fight and the income that goes with it. Running fight camps is expensive.

Saint Preux was at one point a threat for the light-heavyweight title, but in his last several appearances he has displayed an inconsistency that forces me to regard him as a fighter whose agility, speed, quickness and strike evasion are eroding. He is, after all, 38.

Since his loss to Dominick Reyes in 2018, Saint Preux is 2-4 in the UFC, with one of those losses to Ben Rothwell in OSP’s first heavyweight bout. In that fight, Saint Preux weighed 241 pounds. He looked sluggish, puffy and lethargic against Rothwell, who is nearing 40 and is as slow as a glacier.

Boser’s short notice for this bout is odd. The Canadian was under COVID-19 protocol and was released only to take this bout. Not only was Boser not training to fight, but he has been able to do only calisthenics, situps and light lifting in his condo while quarantined.

In his last bout, Boser felt like he let himself, his fans and his gym down with a loss to Ilir Latifi. I believe the young man is psyching himself into retribution for that bout because he battered Latifi and should have won that fight. He took this bout to get right back into the cage and correct that showing.

Boser is risking much. On top of no real camp and a short-notice opponent, he’ll be without his usual handlers for the fight. Boser’s decision here shows me he’s very confident in this matchup or he’s half-crazy and overly impatient.

Once the bell rings, I believe Boser’s ability to compete naturally at 242 pounds — his weight in his last bout June 5 — and his footwork, quickness and power will more than make up for the fact that he’s not had a camp. Boser claims to be a fighter and has talked himself into a must-win here. I like his approach and that he’s willing to jump right back into the fire.

The fact that he’s had no real camp might allow Boser to enter this bout refreshed and with more freedom mentally than if he had crammed in a couple of days of hard training.

Boser opened -150. My only concern is that the market might bet him like he has had a full camp. This bout and its pricing require a little time to watch, learn and monitor.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds, Over -135.

Kennedy Nzechukwu -120 vs. Danilo Marques + 100

light-heavyweights (205 pounds)

Kennedy is a tall, large left-hander whose skills are based on striking. He’s a one-dimensional fighter but has great heart and packs profuse power.

Marques is taller than Kennedy with a more well-rounded skill set. He comes to battle with enough stand-up competence to work his way into the opponent, then against the fence before dragging the victim to the mat for a maul.

Where this fight occurs will indicate who is in control, but I believe Marques is the more complete mixed martial artist, and if he can manage this monster to the mat, he’ll hold the advantage as long as it's on the floor.

Marques + 100.

 

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