Alistair Overeem still wants to fight Alexander Volkov

UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem had two weeks to adjust to the idea he’d be facing former training partner Aleksei Oleinik.

But Overeem (45-17 MMA, 10-6 UFC) hasn’t forgotten about his originally scheduled opponent Alexander Volkov (30-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who reportedly was scratched from UFC on ESPN+ 7 due to health issues.

“I’m still looking for that fight,” Overeem said at the post-fight press conference for Saturday’s event, which took place at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg and streamed on ESPN+. “I was very prepared to face Alexander Volkov. I was looking forward to that fight. That fight didn’t happen tonight, but hopefully the next fight will be Volkov.”

Overeem said he was notified on April 3 of Volkov’s withdrawal. A report from Russian website Match TV claimed the ex-Bellator champ had failed an anti-doping test, but the UFC contradicted that information.

An extended layoff could make Volkov unavailable for the September comeback Overeem is targeting. In any case, “The Reem” will wait to see what the UFC says.

“The UFC will match you with whoever is interesting, and that’s based on rankings,” he said. “To me, Volkov is still ranked. I’m still looking for that. Let’s do that first, and then we figure out who comes after.”

Overeem’s third trip to Russia didn’t have a smooth start. Oleinik (57-12-1 MMA, 6-3 UFC) pushed him back to the fence and battered his body after landing a glancing hook. He threatened several times with setups for his ezekiel choke and managed to avoid knees up the middle.

Unfortunately for the Russian, sideways knees came by surprise. After landing a pair, Overeem pounded out a finish late in the first round.

“He was definitely pressuring me,” he said. “Sometimes, that can happen. I don’t really stress easy, so to me, a little pressure is OK.”

Although Oleinik wasn’t successful on Saturday night, talk drifted other triumphant figures in Russian MMA history. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was in the house supporting teammate Islam Makhachev, who outpointed Arman Tsarukyan in the night’s co-main event.

Asked whether Nurmagomedov had made enough of an impact to eclipse Russia’s most famous export, Fedor Emelianenko, Overeem paused.

“It’s difficult to say,” he said. “Fedor, he’s world-renowned from the PRIDE days. Khabib is doing is right now. Fedor’s at the end of his career, and Khabib is still going strong. He could still go for a couple of years. He should, right?

“I would like to see more victories from Khabib before we put him next to Fedor. I think Fedor is a little more known and more of a mythical legend figure.”

For complete coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 7, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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