Capping off what has been a month filled with memorable upsets and classics, is a heavyweight title eliminator between Ciryl Gane (8-0-0) and Alexander Volkov (33-8-0). The undefeated Gane will be a betting favorite yet again at -180 while Volkov will be an underdog for the third time in his last four fights at +150.
This will be Gane’s toughest test going by the UFC’s Vegas odds as he is the highest he’s been since he debuted in 2019. Gane is arguably the most technically advanced striker in the division. Muay Thai fighter Volkov blends both power and precision as he looks to hand the Frenchman his first career loss.
- Date: Saturday, June 26, 4 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Enterprise NA, United States
- Watch on: ESPN+
Ciryl Gane vs Alexander Volkov
Weight Class: Heavyweight (265 lbs)
Rounds: Five (Main Event)
Odds: Alexander Volkov +150, Ciryl Gane -180
Ciryl Gane is known as being a training partner and friend to current champion Francis Ngannou. But he’s putting all that aside for a shot at glory. While the UFC and the fans are salivating over this potential matchup, Volkov may just spoil this from happening.
Volkov: Breaking Through
Alexander Volkov, a former Bellator champion, has a 7-2 record. Since his debut, he’s constantly improved and has added more power to his style. Volkov has won five of his last six fights via KO/TKO and he did it through a variety of ways to demonstrate his striking acumen.
He put away Alistair Overeem with a jab-cross combo and Walt Harris with a body kick. Any fighter that stands and trades with him will likely get finished violently. But at 6’7” and 264 lbs. And even if he is a plodding heavyweight, he can easily make the octagon look small and cut off any movement from his opponents.
But as he’s improved, Volkov still has to show he can win the big fights. He’s been on the cusp of title shots but losses to Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis derailed him. A win over Gane however, will cement his claim as the number-one contender.
Gane: A Different Breed
Ciryl Gane may only be 8-0 in MMA, but that doesn’t count the 80+ fights he’s had as a kickboxer. That would explain why Gane outstrikes his competition and makes it look easy. He employs deft footwork and hits his opponents from different angles.
His ability to constantly move and give different looks have left many of his opponents confused, including Jairzinho Rozenstruik who practically did nothing during their fight. But Gane isn’t just a pure striker. He has an underrated ground game and became the first heavyweight to win a fight via a heel hook.
If there is a knock on Gane, it’s that he can be a bit too technical in his fighting and rarely goes for the finish. But that is also an ode to his fight IQ as he minimizes his risk and will not get caught fighting out of character. Still, his preference for point-fighting shouldn’t cloud how heavy his hands are.
Fight Pick: Undisputed
There is plenty of support for the underdog, Alexander Volkov here. And why not? He, like Ciryl Gane, is an experienced kickboxer and he’s bigger and longer. Arguably, he even has more power. But there is a speed and technique discrepancy here if just a little.
Gane will be the faster of the two fighters. He also has a one-inch reach advantage despite being a bit smaller. Volkov is plodding and powerful, but it’s not like he offers anything Gane hasn’t seen in his 90+ fights as a professional.
Additionally, if Volkov tries to go to the ground, Gane will be ready. But it won’t get there. Gane should be able to neutralize most of Volkov’s takedown attempts. And he’ll be able to move around Volkov and tee off on him to earn another decision.