UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick, Prediction: Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall Betting Preview (March 19)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Alexander Volkov of Russia.
- The UFC is back in London and two exciting heavyweights get top billing in the main event of the evening.
- Alexander Volkov looks to score back-to-back wins against up-and-comer Tom Aspinall (-110 favorite).
- Sean Zerillo gives his in-depth breakdown and betting picks for tonight's action below.
Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall Odds
On Saturday, the UFC will return to London with a 12-fight card featuring a Heavyweight Main Event between English prospect Tom Aspinall — the 11th ranked contender — and No. 6 ranked Alexander Volkov.
Aspinall (11-2) has impressed his brief UFC run (4-0, with four finishes), and he has recorded 10 of his 11 career wins inside the first round. However, Aspinall also hasn’t lasted past the eight-minute mark in his professional bouts.
Volkov (34-9) is a 43-fight MMA veteran with plenty of experience against top Heavyweights – and he’s still just 33 -years old. More importantly, Saturday will mark his fifth five-round main event in 12 UFC appearances; and the longer format seemingly plays to his advantage.
Will the step up in competition – and introduction to five rounds – prove too difficult a challenge for Aspinall under the spotlight in front of a home crowd, or can the Englishman continue his ascension up the Heavyweight rankings and establish himself as a future title challenger?
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||15:15||2:45|
|Weight (pounds)||253 lbs.||252 lbs.|
|Date of birth||10/24/88||4/11/93|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.86||7.19|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.95||2.37|
|Take Down Avg||0.53||2.73|
While Aspinall’s stats through four UFC fights are impressive, it’s important to contextualize those numbers.
In his first two fights, he defeated Jake Collier (a former Middleweight) and Alan Baudot (a former Light Heavyweight) in 45 and 95 seconds.
He recently knocked out Sergey Spivak (who recently rag-dolled Greg Hardy) in 150 seconds – without absorbing a single strike. Aspinall out-struck his opponents 42-6 in just under five minutes of octagon time combined in those three finishes.
Last February, he faced an actual striking test in Andrei Arlovski – hurting the former champion and out-landing him 41-22 in Round 1 before securing a second-round submission.
However, that matchup was the first glimpse in a while at what happens when Aspinall gets extended, or when he empties the tank to finish an injured opponent but fails to put them away; he starts to breathe heavy and slow down.
Aspinall hits very hard, and he should have advantages in athleticism, grappling, and speed against Volkov when both men are fresh.
If Volkov can survive for seven to 10 minutes, I would imagine that Aspinall starts to wilt – purely from a lack of experience – before the final three rounds.
If Aspinall can maintain his pace for 25 minutes, he will be a future title contender or champion, almost without question. Still, Heavyweights – even the athletic ones – seemingly cannot sustain explosive movements and footwork like Aspinall does for more than a couple of rounds.
Moreover, all four of Aspinall’s octagon bouts came during the pandemic – without a crowd in attendance. He could face an adrenaline dump in the early stages of this fight, just from the overwhelming circumstances of the occasion alone (first main event, first fight in front of a crowd, fighting at home, most formidable opponent to date, etc.)
Putting that aside – skill for skill, I expect Aspinall to find front-loaded success in this matchup. He might even hurt Volkov or knock him down. But if Aspinall isn’t able to finish, Volkov should begin to take over on minute-winning, and I suspect he can finish in the late stages as Aspinall begins to tire.
Volkov can maintain a high pace for 25 minutes (projects for 121 over 25 minutes, landed 115 on Ciryl Gane. He offers strong takedown defense (73%), a good getup game (controlled for 19:25 by Curtis Blaydes, but consistently returned to his feet), and better striking – both offensively and defensive – or durability than anyone that Aspinall has faced to this point.
Unless Aspinall is a Derrick Lewis or Francis Ngannou level power threat, it will be difficult for him to put Volkov away quickly.
Volkov has out-landed upper-echelon competition by close to two strikes per minute. He doesn’t carry much power in his shots, but he is very accurate and knows how to maximize his 80″ reach with straight punches and front kicks to the body. He can wear on opponents with attritional damage, which is further reason to doubt Aspinall’s ability to sustain a pace into the later rounds.
I’m slightly concerned that Volkov looked sluggish in his most recent win over Marcin Tybura at UFC 267. However, he’s still in the prime of the age curve for Heavyweight, and I can quickly draw a line through that performance as an off-night.
If he can stay to the outside until Aspinall begins to tire, Volkov could look like a sizable favorite for the second half of the bout.
Volkov vs. Aspinall Pick
I projected Alexander Volkov as a 51% favorite, and I would bet his moneyline, pre-fight, at any plus money price.
I expect to find a better live price on Volkov after Round 1 and/or Round 2, so I’ll keep my eye on the live market to add to my position.
If I were taking the Aspinall side, I would look to bet his Round 1 prop (+450) or knockout prop (listed +175, projected +215) instead of his moneyline. I expect Aspinall to be the early minute-winner, but I don’t see him winning a decision unless he shows unexpectedly terrific cardio; he probably needs a finish.
Aspinall should begin to tire if he can’t find that early finish, so I also like Volkov to win in Round 3 (+1800), Round 4 (+2800), or Round 5 (+3300) – as dart throw props.
Lastly, I’m also betting the fight to end inside the distance (projected -183, listed -150). I could see Volkov winning a decision, but I’m expecting a come-from-behind knockout for Volkov if Aspinall can’t put him down first.
- Alexander Volkov (+110, 0.5u)
- Volkov wins in Round 3 (+1800, 0.1u), Round 4 (+2800, 0.1u), or Round 5 (+3300, 0.05u)
- Fight Ends Inside the Distance (-150, 0.5u)
- Live Bet Volkov after Round 1 and/or Round 2
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