Fabricio Werdum was clearly winning the fight and at times looked like he was coasting.
Until Alexander Volkov turned the tables late.
The Russian fighter landed big punches to a grounded Werdum from top position and once the two men got up, he landed a huge combination that dropped the former UFC heavyweight champion for good. Officially, it was a knockout victory for Volkov at 1:38 of the fourth round.
Werdum seemed to have total control throughout, especially on the ground where he seemed to be toying with Volkov at times. But Werdum’s complacency — and perhaps fatigue — got the better of him.
Volkov drilled him with a big uppercut in the third that opened up a cut near Werdum’s right eye, which immediately began to swell. When Werdum got stuck on the bottom in the fourth, Volkov smashed him with hard ground and pound. And “Drago” finished shortly after.
Werdum was ahead 29-28 heading into the fourth round on the judges’ scorecards.
Volkov (30-6), who was as much as a +180 underdog, has now won six straight and this is the kind of victory that will put him in serious conversation for a title shot. The Moscow native, who has trained with Werdum in the past, has not lost in the UFC. Volkov, 29, is the former Bellator and M-1 heavyweight champion.
“I am here for the belt,” Volkov said afterward.
Werdum (23-8-1) had a two-fight winning streak snapped with the KO loss. The Brazilian legend seemed to be creeping back up toward a title shot after losing the belt to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 in 2016. Werdum, 40, had not lost to anyone not named Miocic or Alistair Overeem going back to 2008, a UFC 90 defeat against Junior dos Santos.
In the co-main event, Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa put on an absolute show for the English fans in a rematch. This time around, Blachowicz was the one who had his hands raised.
The Polish striker nearly knocked out Manuwa in the first round and closed out very strong in the third to clinch a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 30-27). Manuwa had big moments in the second, rocking Blachowicz at least once. Both men took a ton of damage in the bloody, back-and-forth war.
Blachowicz (22-7) fell to Manuwa by unanimous decision in 2015 and now the two are 1-1 against one another. The surging light heavyweight has now won three in a row. Blachowicz, 35, said he wouldn’t mind a trilogy matchup with Manuwa next, though he doesn’t choose his fights.
Manuwa (17-4) has lost two in a row now after being on a two-fight winning streak. The England native was coming off a knockout loss to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214 last July. Manuwa, 38, at one point was closing in on title contention.
In the main card opener, Leon Edwards finished Peter Sobotta — literally at the last second. For a second time on the UFC London card, a fighter finished at 4:59 of the third round. This time, Edwards beat Sobotta with vicious strikes from top position. Afterward, Edwards called out Darren Till to a fight in Till’s hometown of Liverpool in May.
Edwards (15-3), an England native, has won five in a row and is making serious moves in the welterweight division. Sobotta (17-6-1) came in on a two-fight winning streak.
Also on the main card, top prospect Tom Duquesnoy skirted by Terrion Ware with a very close unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27). Duqesnoy (16-2, 1 NC) rebounded from a split decision loss to Cody Stamann in his last fight, though it was not a superb performance from the Frenchmen. Ware (17-7) has now lost three straight in the UFC.
Paul Craig managed to pull off one of the most incredible late submissions in MMA history. Clearly losing the fight and getting pummeled on the bottom by Magomed Ankalaev, Craig threw up a Hail Mary triangle choke in the closing seconds of the final round. Craig cinched it in — and Ankalaev tapped out right before the bell sounded. The finish came at 4:59 of the third, making it one of the most historic submissions in UFC annals.
“It was a f*cking sweet submission,” Craig told Dan Hardy in the cage afterward.
Craig (10-2) said that it was the last fight on his UFC contract and he’s hoping to re-sign. He was in danger of losing three straight coming in. Ankalaev (10-1) was making his UFC debut.
Not to be outdone, Craig’s Scottish countrymen Danny Henry finished prospect Hakeem Dawodu in just 39 seconds with a gnarly high-elbow guillotine choke. Henry rocked Dawodu with a straight right and then cinched in the wicked choke. Dawodu was rendered unconscious.
Henry (11-2) has won five straight, including the first two fights of his UFC run. Dawodu (7-1-1) was an undefeated blue-chipper coming in, who had dominated in World Series of Fighting.
On the prelims, Danny Roberts knocked out Oliver Enkamp in the first round, Charles Byrd beat John Phillips by first-round submission (rear-naked choke) and Kajan Johnson defeated Stevie Ray by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
In the night’s opener, Dmitriy Sosnovkiy defeated Mark Godbeer by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:29 of the second round in his UFC debut.