Former Bellator and M-1 heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov has moved even closer to securing a shot at a third major promotional title after an attention grabbing TKO victory over Stefan Struve in the UFC Rotterdam main event.

UFC Rotterdam, also known as UFC Fight Night 115, took place on Saturday, September 3 at the Ahoy Rotterdam The Netherlands. Despite the event having very few big name fighters on it, UFC FN 115 would deliver an exciting night of action, marking the promotion’s first show since taking a month’s break in scheduling.

In the first stanza of the headline bout, Struve and Volkov came out both looking ready for a stand-up war. The home crowd favourite did well to land sharp, singular jabs to stop Volkov advancing, however, the Dutchman was put on the canvas after a lazy attempt at a kick was caught by his alert opponent. Struve got back to his feet swiftly and the two towering heavyweights exchanged blows and combinations. After a hard body kick from Volkov, Struve found success with a skip knee which landed flush on the face of the Russian. Volkov then fell forward, and seemingly enraged by the nasty cut opened up under his left eye, he came to life with furious ground and pound as he landed on Struve with “Skyscraper” holding on to the end of the round.

With Volkov’s breathing disrupted by damage done to his nose, round two belonged to Struve as the established UFC veteran showed maturity we have not seen from him previously. He picked apart his injured opponent with slick combinations however it became overshadowed by the two eye pokes landed on Volkov by Struve, resulting in referee Marc Goddard issuing the Dutch fighter a final warning for the fouls. Volkov found a second wind shortly after, finding his range and punishing the tiring Struve with clean hard combinations and powerful counters. With Struve visibly exhausted, Volkov would finish strong to steal the round.

The third round would start with a tit-for-tat exchange before Volkov buckled the leg of Struve with a devastating leg kick. “Drago” went in for the kill as Struve’s head movement started to fail him and was rewarded with the stoppage when he landed a succession of shots which saw his opponent slump to the canvas. Volkov followed up with shots as the referee intervened giving him his third successive victory since joining the UFC and a probable place among the heavyweight divisions top-10.

Bahadurzada returns with TKO win after 18-month layoff

In the evening’s penultimate bout, Afghan welterweight Sayir Bahadurzada showed no signs of cage rust as he scored a second round TKO stoppage win over Australian promotional newcomer Rob Wilkinson. Previous to this fight, Bahadurzada had fought only once since 2013 with injuries keeping him sidelined for most of that time period.

Both men started off the fight showing a lot of respect for the other’s power, staying hesitant and looking for the openings, until “The Great” caught an attempted kick from Wilkinson and dumped him to the mat. Despite stalking him for the follow-up, the Aussie made it back to his feet and would land an unexpected takedown on his bulkier opponent. With Bahadurzada springing back to his feet, he would land a powerful shot to Wilkinson’s midsection which folded him and allowed his opponent the opportunity to secure a choke. Despite his best efforts, the Jackson-Wink MMA fighter was unable to get the finish before the end of the first round.

Despite Wilkinson’s best efforts to get back into the fight in the second round, Bahadurzada would find a home for a crushing overhand right around the three-minute mark. Unable to get his legs underneath him, “Razor” could do little but cover up as Bahadurzada landed heavy shots for the TKO win.

“Rocky” Edwards stretches win streak to four with decision win over Barberena

Also on the card, British fighter Leon Edwards would earn a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Bryan Barberena to stretch his win streak to four in the UFC’s welterweight division.

With both fighters starting in southpaw, Edwards pushed notoriously slow starter Barberena back with good forward pressure and a stiff jab. Closing the distance, “Rocky” dragged the Californian down to the mat and swiftly took his back before spending the rest of the round looking for a submission.

The second round saw “Bam Bam” even the scores as he got himself into the fight by upping the pace on a habitually hesitant Edwards. Although Edwards once again nearly took the back of Barberena, it was the American who would enjoy long periods in top control before ending the round in the Birmingham fighter’s guard.

The third round saw the Brit dominant throughout after securing an early takedown. Edwards would again go for a rear-naked choke attempt which Barberena once again defended well. However despite his struggle, Barberena could not escape, and apart from a scramble in the dying seconds, offered nothing in return as Edwards showed his superior grappling to take the decision 29-28 on all three judge’s scorecards.

Also on the card, Marion Reneau did not let a late change of opponent affect her performance, as she toiled away for three rounds against tenacious newcomer Talita Bernardo, before eventually forcing the TKO stoppage in the closing seconds of the women’s bantamweight fight.

After a close first two rounds, the debuting Bernardo’s cardio started to suffer as Reneau took over on the ground. She transitioned between submission attempts and positions before taking the back of the Brazilian and landing unanswered strikes to get the TKO finish in the dying embers of the bout.

UFC Rotterdam Results

Heavyweight Main Event: Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Struve via TKO (Punches) (3:30 – Round 3)

Welterweight Bout: Siyar Bahadurzada def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (Strikes) (3:10 – Round 2)

Womens Bantamweight Bout: Marion Reneau def. Talita Bernardo via TKO (Strikes) (4:54 – Round 3)

Welterweight Bout: Leon Edwards def. Bryan Barberena via Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

UFC Rotterdam Prelim Results

Welterweight Bout: Darren Till def. Bojan Velickovic via Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Lightweight Bout: Mairbek Taisumov def. Felipe Silva via KO (Punch) (1:24 – Round 1)

Lightweight Bout: Michel Prazeres def. Mads Burnell via Submission (North-South Choke) (1:26 – Round 3)

Lightweight Bout: Rustam Khabilov def. Desmond Green via Decision (Unanimous) (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Light-Heavyweight Bout: Aleksander Rakic def. Francimar Barroso via Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Featherweight Bout: Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Mike Santiago via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) (4:22 – Round 2)

Light-Heavyweight Bout: Abdul-Karim Edilov def. Bojan Mihajlovic via TKO (Strikes) (2:32 – Round 2)

Lightweight Bout: Thibault Gouti def. Andrew Holbrook via TKO (Strikes) (4:28 – Round 1)