LAS VEGAS – UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blades dominated Alexander Volkov in wrestling on Saturday night, winning his fourth consecutive victory in a unanimous decision to sneak.
Featherweight Josh Emmett made the unanimous decision during a thrilling joint appearance during the final match of the latest show from the fan-free UFC Apex Gym in the hometown of the mixed martial arts promotion.
Blades (14-2) showed his superior wrestling skills from the start against Volkov, taking down the Russian within the first 10 seconds and then dominating the first 3 1/2 rounds. Volkov (31-8) got his own takedown at the end of the fourth and nailed Blades with a few strikes early in the fifth, but Bledes went ahead and won the fight with his obvious strength on the field.
“It’s always a good experience to know that you can go for 25 minutes, and there are things you have to work on, but you learn them with success,” Blades said. “After the third round, I have to work on my conditioning, but I’m happy to win. Volkov is legit. I’m one step closer to the title shot.”
It is not clear how the 6-foot-7 Volkov will travel to the US due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has won seven of his last eight fights, but has not competed since his unanimous victory over Greg Hardy in Moscow last year.
Blades won 49-46, 48-47, 48-46 on the judges’ scorecards.
Blades and Francis Ngannou have the next shot at the UFC heavyweight title after champion Stipe Miocic completed his trilogy with former two-belt champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 252 on August 15. In the Blades career, they won their competitions in 2016 and 2018.
Emmett and Burgos put on the night show with a lovely slugfest, with Emmett winning 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27. The 35-year-old Emmett (16-2) had two knockdowns in the first round with a knee injury and jumped out in the third round, but Burgos absorbed the excellent punishment and thought he had made a decision.
“Dana, I tell you, get that checkbook ready!” Emmett shouted shortly after the fight in the direction of UFC President Dana White, who offered promotion bonuses for the best performances.
The event was the fourth of five consecutive UFC appearances held over five weekends, with no fans on its corporate campus. Following Dustin Poirier’s meeting with Don Hooker next week, the UFC travels to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi for four appearances in 14 days, starting with UFC 251 on July 12.
In the first round of his latest landmark fight, veteran Jim Miller ended Roosevelt Roberts with a firework. The 36-year-old Miller (32-14) matched Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s 35th appearance in the UFC cage, and his 21st UFC victory lagged him in promotion history with Cerrone (23) and Demian Mia (22).
Former Bantamweight title contender Raquel Pennington (11-8) is only her second victory since 2016 with a clear decision over 42-year-old high school teacher Marion Renau. Pennington’s fianc,, Tessia Torres, removed her four-fight skid from 2017 by unanimous decision over Brianna Van Buren in the opening undercard.
Justin Jane’s Storybook UFC debuted, stopping Frank Camacho with strikes in just 41 seconds. The 30-year-old Janes accepted the fight three days ago when he removed Matt Freivola from the Las Vegas card because of a team-mate’s positive coronavirus test.
In two matchups pitched by experienced veterans, Lauren Murphy made a unanimous decision over fellow veteran flyweight Roxanne Modaferi and Bobby Green clay controlling his victory over Guida.