#3 Curtis Blaydes and #7 Alexander Volkov face off in a heavyweight showdown at the UFC Apex on Saturday, 20 June 2020. The winner will solidify their claims at having the next title shot, after the conclusion of the Miocic-Cormier trilogy.

Taking place inside the bite-sized UFC apex octagon on Saturday, 20 June 2020, expect close-quarter fireworks and finishes galore if June’s trend is to continue. Rare as it is, the main event involves an intriguing heavyweight showdown between the wrestling machine, Curtis Blaydes and wily Muay Thai veteran Alexander Volkov. Even better, the co-main featherweight bout features similar firepower as Shane Burgos aims to continue rising the rankings against power puncher, Josh Emmett.

In the naughty corner sits Frank Camacho. Perhaps the most surprising aspect since the return of the UFC has been the relatively low numbers of fighters missing weight despite being unable to access traditional training camps and weight cutting procedures. Camacho is no such case. Weighing in at 158lbs, Camacho missed weight by 2lbs, and this marks his second time missing weight within the organisation. Tut Tut.

In more positive news, Saturdays card welcomes the return of former Bellator welterweight champion, Lyman Good. Forced to cancel the current match-up against Belal Muhammad back in April 2020 due to contracting coronavirus, Good finally enters the octagon again fit and ready. Also, there is a mammoth two extra fights on this card (totalling twelve, compared to the ten we have become accustomed to in the past weeks). Happy days!

Main Event

Heavyweight (265)

Curtis Blaydes (13-2) vs Alexander Volkov (31-7)

Blaydes is a monster wrestler and an increasing threat on the feet, with powerful hands and the ability to follow intricate gameplans. He won’t have to worry too much about a power threat from Volkov, so will be able to fire off more risky takedown attempts. Moreover, Volkov is certainly there to be ragdolled. The Russian was unable to stop Werdum from taking him down to the mat, a terrible sign as Blaydes wrestling chops are far superior, former NCJAA national heavyweight champion. I’ll spare you a real in-depth look into Blaydes, as I have already covered his skillset in a recent article.

Volkov is a strange figure within the heavyweight division. His career includes three successive wins over big boy veterans – Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum. Despite this, Volkov had never really been tested until he came up against fearsome power puncher, Derrick Lewis. Volkov completely dominated affairs for 14:49 seconds, mixing up attacks to the head and body, and more impressively alternating between scoring and significant shots. Then Lewis did what Lewis does. Knocked out with only eleven seconds to spare Volkov has had a question mark over his skillset since. A victory over the very limited former NFL footballer, Greg Hardy, does not answer these questions. Lewis would later luck his way into a title fight straight after his victory, which will no doubt have stung the Russian on missing out on what was his golden chance.

With a tendency to volume strike, Volkov could win this fight if he establishes the range early and forces Blaydes into a mid-range in which he is at a clear speed disadvantage. JDS tried this and failed, however. Another silver lining is Volkov’s crisp clinch work, owing to his extensive Muay Thai background. If backed up against the cage, Volkov will have to work hard to fire knees and sneak in elbows if he wishes to break the pattern of Blaydes and prevent a takedown. Finally, perhaps a throwaway point. Volkov’s long frame poses a new challenge to Blaydes, as it an awkward bottom game could stifle the usually dominant top mount mauling that Blaydes delivers.

Predicted Result: Blaydes TKO Round 4

Blaydes will secure a takedown in the first couple of minutes and not look back. Expect a lot of lay and pray, before Blaydes uses his athleticism to pop up and fire off bursts of ground and pound that will break Volkov physically and mentally.

UFC Moscow results: Alexander Volkov out strikes Greg Hardy to win ...
Alexander Volkov lands a long head kick to the unprepared, and overmatched, Greg Hardy at UFC Fight Night 163: Moscow. November 2019.

Result: Blaydes def. Volkov // Decision (unanimous – 49-46, 48-47, 48-46)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Co-Main event

Featherweight (145)

Josh Emmett (15-2) vs Shane Burgos (13-1)

Josh Emmett looks a juicy juicy boy. We are not talking Paulo Costa levels, but, quite possibly just one behind. Regardless, Emmett was a decision machine before having his lights switched off by some ‘very necessary’ hellbows from Jeremy Stephens. His past two fights since, Emmett has shown a destructive power in line with his rugged physique. Blasting Michael Johnson into the shadow realm after being outstruck all night, and finishing Mirsad Bektic with suffocating ground and pound, Emmett has looked a revitalised fighter.

Emmett is a one-dimensional fighter that relies heavily on his newfound power. Shane Burgos is a vastly different fighter. More technically gifted, Burgos operates a varied offensive approach with a heavy focus on bodywork. There is no doubt that Emmett will be there to hit on the night. Burgos needs to land early to the body, in hopes that it will take the sting out Emmett’s power later in the contest. On a similar vein, Burgos is defensively suspect at the best of times. Leading with his head and baiting Emmett is a shoot-out would be particularly foolish, especially as Burgos’ chin has cracked once before at the hands of Calvin Kattar.

Predicted Result: Burgos TKO Round 3

This a real 50/50 pick’em. The smaller cage may help Burgos pressure Emmett onto the back foot more effectively, and will test the counter striking ability of the powerful featherweight.

UFC on ESPN 2 Highlight Video: Josh Emmett Fells Michael Johnson
Josh Emmett crushes Michael Johnson’s jaw, as well as crushing my heart as a long-time Johnson fan boy. UFC on ESPN 2: Barboza vs Gaethje, March 2019.

Result: Emmett def. Burgos // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Raquel Pennington (10-8) vs Marion Reneau (9-5-1)

Reneau is a shopworn fighter who has always struggled to impose herself on opponents to the extent where she can dictate the pace or range of the fight. Athletic despite the ripe old age of 43 years young, Reneau will find out sooner rather than later that father (or in this case, mother?) time catches up with us all. Pennington is a bang average fighter, well rounded to a boring tee. Her split decision victory over Irene Aldana continues to shine as Aldana herself rises in the division. Pennington also ground out a somewhat creditable performance against Holm in a stinker of an affair.

Predicted Result: Pennington Decision

This fight ain’t it chief.

Result: Pennington def. Reneau // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Welterweight (170)

Lyman Good (21-5) vs Belal Muhammad (16-3)

Beefy New Yorker, Lyman Good, was a former welterweight champion over at Bellator. In the UFC? Good is probably known as the man choked out via a Demian Maia rear-naked choke in the first round. Less than Good… He does carry noteworthy power, though, and can shut down Muhammad’s swarming offence. Muhammad is more skilled on the mat, pushing a high-octance pace and often using very cool transitions. Don’t be shocked to find Muhammad employing a high volume front foot swarming tactic to push Good against the cage, and try to work him to the ground.

Predicted Result: Muhammad Decision

Both fighters are fairly equally matched, so what should transpire is a back and forth split decision. But with the UFC Apex octagon? Don’t rule out some wacky first-round shenanigans.

Result: Muhammad def. Good // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Catchweight (160)

Roosevelt Roberts (10-1) vs Jim Miller (31-14)

Roberts looked spectacular in his most recent outing against Brok Weaver just three weeks ago. With a strong TDD against the cage, Roberts used his long-range to throw deceptively fast, snappy straight punches and landed knees whenever the fight entered a closer range. Jim Miller is a much more experienced, and higher quality, all-round fighter than Weaver though. Old man Miller showed some signs of age in his decision loss to Scott Holtzman back in February, but it will still be interesting to see how a more experienced grappler and wrestler can test Roberts.

Predicted Result: Roberts TKO 2

This a real test of Robert’s maturity. If he chooses to fight to his advantages, keeping Miller at length with straight shots, then it should be a simple win for the more athletic, younger man. Coming of age/passing of the guard fight – gotta love them.

Result: Miller def. Roberts // Submission (armbar) Round 1 2:25

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Preliminary Card

Lightweight (155)

Clay Guida (35-19) vs Bobby Green (24-10-1)

Who is pining for this fight, is my question. Guida is a hell of a guy but it is clear that his best years are far behind him. His victory over the corpse of BJ Penn was horrendously shallow, getting hit far too often on his way to tamely grapple Penn against the cage. I have a soft spot for Green, but he only just about meets the quality demands to be a UFC journeyman. Still, with a vastly superior striking game, expect Green to control this fight.

Predicted Result: Green TKO Round 3

I hope it ends early, for the sake of the fans. Instead, Guida will probably stay on his bike, slowing down in the third and being caught.

Result: Green def. Guida // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Strawweight (115)

Tecia Torres (10-5) vs Brianna Van Buren (9-2)

Torres is currently on a four-fight slide coming into this fight, yet in all fairness, she has faced an absolute murderers row (current champion Weili Zhang, former champions Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jędrzejczyk, and undefeated prospect Marina Rodriguez). Torres has, for the most part, aimed to survive in all four affairs and successfully reached the final bell in all four. Although Torres has not been able to utilise her wrestling and top game, it is a potent threat for any match-up at 115. For Van Buren, it is only her second match in the UFC. With a solid submission repertoire, she will need to rely on her Jiu-Jitsu to escape Torres’ top control.

Predicted Result: Torres Decision

Close fight which should spring some entertaining back and forth grappling exchanges. Bookies seem to be hot on Van Buren, but personally, I don’t see it.

Result: Torres def. Van Buren // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Middleweight (185)

Marc-André Barriault (11-4) vs Oskar Piechota (11-3-1)

0-3 in the UFC, Canadian striker Barriault will be looking to find his first W in the organisation. Taking Krzysztof Joyko to a split decision last year suggests that Barriault is more than just a fall man, and will be hoping to show off his superior stand up skills against grappler Piechota. Currently on a three-fight slide too (2-5 under the UFC banner), Piechota has shown less durability being finished twice by submission and once by a left hook.

Predicted Result: Barriault TKO Round 2

Two fighters desperate for a result will hopefully push both men to stamp out a career-changing performance. The lowest of stakes are most often the highest imaginable. #deep

Result: Barriault def. Piechota // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:50

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Cortney Casey (9-7) vs Gillian Robertson (7-4)

Casey’s career path has seen her following a trend of win one, lose one. On the plus side, Casey has fought many strong opponents at strawweight (Joanne Calderwood, Claudia Gadelha, Michelle Waterson, Angela Hill, Cynthia Calvillo). After a successful move up to flyweight with a victory two months ago, Casey is still looking to remodel herself in the new weight class. Robertson is a career flyweight in the UFC, who has been known to cause a surprise (submitting Molly McCann in her hometown, Liverpool).

Predicted Result: Casey Decision

Casey should have more than enough experience to overcome any potential banana skins that Robertson poses.

Result: Robertson def. Casey // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 4:32

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Lightweight (155)

Frank Camacho (22-8) vs Justin Jaynes (15-4)

Camacho comes into this fight overweight – possibly for extra muscle mass, most likely for laziness and not viewing Jaynes as a real threat. Debutant Jaynes has never fought outside of regional competition and has been recruited tonight as the lamb for slaughter.

Predicted Result: Camacho KO Round 1

At least Jaynes earns 20% of Camacho’s pay for acting like a consummate professional and making weight.

Result: Jaynes def. Camacho // TKO (punches) Round 1 0:41

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Roxanne Modafferi (24-16) vs Lauren Murphy (12-4)

Everybody’s favourite nerd, Modafferi, is coming off the most important win of her career after convincingly beating Maycee Barber (even in the rounds before Barber’s unfortunate injury). Modafferi is not the most athletically gifted and possesses an awkward striking style, but she often employs calculated gameplans and has more than adequate grappling credentials. Murphy too comes into the contest upon recent success, beating rising star Andrea Lee over three rounds. Murphy’s combinations on the feet are uninspired but they get the job done.

Predicted Result: Murphy Decision

Kinda rooting for Modafferi to see more goofy weigh-in cosplay and post-fight interviews.

Result: Murphy def. Modafferi // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Lightweight (155)

Austin Hubbard (11-4) vs Max Rohskopf (5-0)

Rohskopf will get this finished early. Simply too good on the ground, no surprises here.

Predicted Result: Rohskopf Submission Round 1

Result: Hubbard def. Rohskopf // TKO (retirement – end of Round 2)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC on ESPN 11: Blaydes vs Volkov

Winner: 7/12

Method: 5/12

Round: 6/12

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 17/32

Method: 17/32

Round: 16/32

Takeaway comments: Still hot on Rokskopf, 5 days notice is always a gamble. Also, big shout out to Justin Jaynes!

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