Alexander Volkov has his sights set on a former champion and a past title contender following his co-main event win at UFC Fight Night in Moscow.
The Russian picked up a much needed win after more than a year away from the sport, as he earned a unanimous decision over ex-NFL player Greg Hardy, who accepted the fight on short notice after Junior dos Santos was forced out of the contest due to a severe bacterial infection.
Volkov still had dos Santos on his mind after the fight, while also name dropping another top ranked heavyweight as possible opponents when he returns to action, presumably sometime in 2020.
“We’ll see [how quickly I can return],” Volkov said on ESPN’s post-fight show. “(The) medical commission will give me a suspension; we will see how long it will take, then I will come back to training. Actually, I want it as fast as possible.
“I have unfinished business with JDS (Junior dos Santos) and Overeem. Both of them is a good choice.”
Volkov was also previously scheduled to face Overeem earlier this year, but he was forced out of the contest, which gave him another potential opponent to call out following the win.
Before he got to dos Santos or Overeem, Volkov first had to shake off 13 months worth of ring rust. His previous fight took place in October 2018 at UFC 229. He was less than two minutes away from a potential title shot, but instead he suffered a devastating knockout courtesy of Derrick Lewis late in the final round.
Coming back from that loss, coupled with the time off and the change of opponent, ratcheted up the pressure on Volkov’s shoulders. But he still managed to put on a dominant performance over three rounds to get the job done.
“It was a lot of pressure before this fight,” Volkov said. “I felt like I went to the expectations. I was very, very cautious because Greg was very hot and tough because he ate a lot of my punches and didn’t flinch.
“I know while his style is very unorthodox, I have to be careful and work my way without any chance for him to win.”
While Hardy kept Volkov honest by showing off his huge power in a few of the exchanges, it was ultimately experience and a strong strategy that made the difference in the heavyweight co-main event.
“My first goal is stop him, stop his way of fighting,” Volkov said. “It wasn’t that he wanted to stand there and bang with me, he had to. All I worked before the fight was to make him stand there and fight with me.”
Mission accomplished, as Volkov got the win while moving to 5-1 in the UFC.