UFC Fight Night Rotterdam preview
The Ultimate Fighting Championship takes its latest event to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, with a total of four fights on the main card.
Stefan Struve V Alexander Volkov
The main event of the evening sees two giants lock horns inside the octagon. Dutchman Stefan Struve, who stands at an intimidating 6’11”, meets the 6’7” Russian Volkov in what will be a huge showdown, in more ways than one.
Standing at close to seven feet tall, Struve normally has a huge height advantage over just about any opponent. That will not be the case this Saturday evening, with just a four-inch gap between the two men.
The Dutchman will need to watch his step in this one – Volkov is as clean a striker as you are likely to see, and Struve has a tendency to take his eye off the ball and suffer the consequences. He has won his last two fights, against Antonio Silva and Daniel Omielanczuk, but his Russian opponent this weekend is a different calibre of brawler altogether.
Volkov is a former Bellator and M-1 Challenge champion, and has made an excellent start to his fledgling UFC career. He has won both of his fights thus far in the company, against Timothy Johnson and Roy Nelson, and should be able to overcome an inconsistent Struve via knock-out.
Odds: Stefan Struve (2.00), Alexander Volkov (1.80)
Siyar Bahadurzada V Rob Wilkinson
Australian Rob Wilkinson has stepped in to take on Siyar Bahadurzada following an injury to UFC rookie Abu Azaitar. But it is Bahadurzada who comes into this one as the favourite, with a variety of techniques which could well catch Wilkinson unawares.
He is a strong and clean striker, but has also shown that he has the capabilities to choke out an opponent if needs be. He did just that to Brandon Thatch, and Wilkinson must ensure he does not try to strike from too close or else he too could fall victim to a vice-like chokehold.
Wilkinson, for his part, could feasibly be described as a Jack of all trades type of fighter, but lacks any form of speciality. He is a powerful striker and remains undefeated in the UFC to date, but that is likely to change on Saturday night.
This is likely to be a close contest, but in all honesty Bahadurzada, at the current time at least, looks to be a cut above his Australian opponent. He should win this one fairly comfortably.
Odds: Siyar Bahadurzada (1.66), Rob Wilkinson (2.25)
Marion Reneau V Talita De Oliveira
There has been another late substitution in this bout, with Brazilian Talita de Oliveira filling the void left behind by the injured Germaine de Randamie. De Oliveira will have her work cut out against Marion Reneau, however, an astute fighter who likes to get on top of her opponents and grapple.
Reneau has won three of her six fights in UFC thus far, including over the highly rated Jessica Andrade. This will be an intriguing bout between two fighters with similar styles.
De Oliviera also prefers grappling rather than out-and-out striking. All of the Brazilian’s victories in UFC so far have come via submission, and she has only suffered a solitary defeat, which came against Juliana Velasquez.
Assuming these two get down to the mat rather than attempting to stay on their feet and strike, this has the potential to be the best fight of the evening. This is a major test, however, for de Oliviera, and the likelihood is that she will not quite live up to it.
Admittedly, de Oliveira was not helped by stepping into this one late, but Reneau has the edge on her without a doubt. The American’s experience is also a major factor, and she should win this won via submission.
Odds: Marion Reneau (1.30), Talita de Oliveira (3.50)
Leon Edwards V Bryan Barberena
The fourth fight on the main card sees English fighter Leon Edwards try and get the better of American Bryan Barberena in what should be a hugely interesting striker against grappler contest. Edwards is an extremely ferocious striker which could lead to a quick finish should he manage to land a prime hit early on.
In addition, the Englishman comes into this fight full of confidence following a three-fight winning streak, against Vicente Luque, Albert Tumenov and Dom Waters. Barberena will gave his work cut out if he is to avoid becoming the fourth victim of the run of form.
The American will look to try and take this encounter down to the mat and force a submission from Edwards. His record currently stands at four wins and two defeats in the UFC, including impressive triumphs over Sage Northcutt and Warlley Alves.
This fight could really go either way, and the two distinct styles make it a difficult one to call. However, given Edwards’ excellent recent form, expect him to edge a close contest.
Odds: Leon Edwards (1.36), Bryan Barberena (3.25)