This week it was announced that top Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov will head to Rotterdam, Netherlands to take on home hero Stefan Struve at UFC Fight Night 115 on September 2.
The fight marks a step up for Volkov, in more ways than one, and comes off the back of a decision win against Roy Nelson in April. But Volkov, a former Bellator and M-1 Global heavyweight champion, has long been touted as a potential UFC heavyweight title challenger, if not a potential titleholder, and is also continuing a rich tradition of talented Russian heavyweights.
Ahead of the release of Fighters Only’s Fedor icon issue (released in the US on June 6 and in the UK on June 8), we caught up with Volkov to discuss winning in the UFC, title shots and his hero, ‘The Last Emperor’.
Q: How do you feel now you are finally fighting and winning in the UFC?
Volkov: I feel confident and have a desire to win more. Though I am at the beginning of my journey in the UFC, with every step and every fight I grow as a fighter and gain more confidence.
Q: How long or how many wins do you need to start challenging the top-ranked fighters in the UFC and making a run at the title?
Volkov: I think I am really close to it. Any fight now in the heavyweight division can be called a contender fight. I feel I can beat anyone in top ten now.
Q: Where do you rank yourself compared to the rest of the top Russian heavyweights?
Volkov: I am a humble person and naming myself the best of all-time is not my style. It’s really hard now to name the best Russian heavyweight. It’s a pretty hard question. I hope I will be the best, but now it’s an open vacancy.
Q: To what extent have you been inspired by Fedor Emelianenko?
Volkov: I have never created idols for myself. I have been always inspired by goals that I can achieve with hard work and dedication.
Q: How do you think Fedor has influenced Russian fighters and Russian MMA as a whole?
Volkov: Without a doubt Fedor is the one who made MMA popular in Russia. It’s hard to overestimate his influence.
Q: Do think you can surpass his accomplishments with success in the UFC?
Volkov: To be better than the legend, I have to become a legend myself. Time will tell. But I am young and I am at the beginning of my long journey. I am improving and there are thousands of things I have to learn as a fighter. The possibilities are endless. I just want to train hard and fight with all my heart and soul to be the best in the best league.
*** Fighters Only’s Fedor icon issue will be released on June 6 in the US and on June 8 in the UK ***