UFC 229: What Are The Chances Alexander Volkov Scores a Title Shot?

Due to the magnitude of the UFC 229 headliner between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, several key story lines from the card are getting lost in the mix. Case in point, could we see Alexander Volkov score a title shot this Saturday night?

The Russian fighter will take on Derrick Lewis at the event, and it’s a bout that features two, top five ranked heavyweights. Volkov is holding down the #5 spot while Lewis is sitting at #2. The 6’7 tall Volkov has worked his way into that position, after winning all four of his UFC bouts to date. In his last outing, the former Bellator champ took out former UFC champ, Fabricio Werdum. Volkov has also defeated Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson and Timothy Johnson in the Octagon.

So, as a result of this run, and the fact Volkov was one of the more highly regarded heavyweights out there before he arrived in the UFC, there’s been talk about his title shot chances. Recently while talking with MMA Junkie, the 29 year-old had this to say about the subject:

It’s a difficult situation. There’s Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, and the winner of Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes. So, either the winner of Lewis against me, or Ngannou against Blaydes, could earn the title shot. I don’t like to think about when exactly my title shot will be, but I believe that if I show a good performance, the UFC will give me the opportunity to fight the champion next. Also, we don’t know when the title shot will be for sure.

If Brock Lesnar comes back, Cormier will fight him. If Brock comes back at the end of this year, or the beginning of next, the following title shot would be in the fall of next year. That means I’d have to wait about a year if I win my next bout. After this one, I’ll probably have to fight again before I get my title shot. Nobody knows when Daniel Cormier will defend the heavyweight title again.

So, first things first, and as Volkov alluded to, as it stands right now, Lesnar is going to challenge Cormier for the belt next. But, could Volkov move next in line? If he defeats Lewis?

That depends, it would likely come down to whether Curtis Blaydes defeats Francis Ngannou, November 24th, and if so, how he goes about it. If Blaydes relies on a wrestling centric, but conservative game plan, and Volkov records a highlight reel, stoppage win, then the latter will likely move into the pole position.

But, the big variable here is whether Cormier decides to continue fighting, after he fights Lesnar.

Cormier has repeatedly said he plans to retire next March, so, if he defeats Lesnar, as it looks right now, another title defense won’t happen. So, we could see one of the winners of the upcoming fights (Lewis – Volkov, Blaydes – Ngannou) moved into a bout for the vacant title. You would think if that happened, Stipe Miocic would be fighting for the belt as well.

And what about if Lesnar wins? There’s been no indication yet that he intends to fight regularly in the UFC. So, it remains to be seen if the promotion would be content, having Lesnar defend the belt, say, once a year.

If Volkov is wise, he’ll remain focused on defeating the always dangerous, Derrick Lewis for now.

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