It’s the last pay-per-view of the summer. Although the leaves are about to turn, MMA’s top promotion has one last batch of fireworks ready to go before the autumnal equinox takes place.
This Saturday night, the UFC heads down under to Australia where it’ll be the last pay-per-view of the winter in the southern hemisphere. Sydney is the host city for UFC 293.
This is the first pay-per-view event to take place in Australia since 2019. Back on Oct. 6 of that year, UFC 243 took place at Marvel Stadium (so named for the comic book publisher.) That night, Israel Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) scored a second-round knockout of Robert Whittaker (24-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) in the headliner.
Key Heavyweight Bout in UFC 293 Co-Main Event
All told, barring any postponements between now and Saturday night, UFC 293 features a full 12-fight card, including a contest that looks to shape the future of the heavyweight championship picture in the UFC 293 co-main event. No. 6 contender Tai Tuivasa (15-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) looks to get back in the win column when he squares off against No. 7 contender Alexander Volkov (36-10 MMA, 10-4 UFC) in his 47th MMA appearance.
Being a nontitle affair, the UFC 293 co-main event is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round. Immediately following the contest, the UFC 293 main event sees the middleweight championship on the line.
— UFC (@ufc) September 3, 2023
UFC 293 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the UFC 293 co-main event on Saturday night, Alexander Volkov stands as the taller man at 6-foot-7, compared to the 6-foot-2 frame of Tai Tuivasa. In addition, Volkov owns a five-inch reach advantage (80 inches to 75 inches) and an eight-inch leg reach advantage (47 1/2 inches to 39 1/2 inches) over Tuivasa.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Alexander Volkov installed as a -250 favorite on the money line, with Tai Tuivasa countering as a +210 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Can Tuivasa Get Off the Skid?
Tai Tuivasa has posted a record of 3-2 in his last five bouts, but he’s fallen on hard times of late. He enters the UFC 293 co-main event having lost two bouts in succession, both by knockout.
Last time out, he sustained a first-round knockout (punches) against Sergei Pavlovich (18-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) during UFC Orlando on Dec. 3 at Amway Center. Prior to the two-fight losing streak, Tuivasa scored four straight wins by knockout dating back to Easter weekend in 2019.
During a recent interview, “Bam Bam” discussed fighting in front of his countrymen this coming weekend.
“It’s been a long time,” Tuivasa said. “This is my home, so it’s good to finally be home and get to perform in front of everyone.”
Sometimes in life, when things get rough, you need to get some good home cooking in your system to make you feel better. If ever there were a person in need of some home cooking, Tai Tuivasa is the guy.
Now the only question heading into the fight on Saturday is “Which song will he walk out to before the contest?”
Volkov Looking to Run Winning Streak to Three
In the other corner, Alexander Volkov has gone 3-2 himself over the last five fights. Unlike Tai Tuivasa, however, “Drago” is travelling northward of late, coming into the UFC 293 co-main event on a two-fight winning streak.
Last time out, he stopped Alexandr Romanov (17-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) with a first-round knockout (punches from back mount) on March 11 during UFC Fight Night 221 in Las Vegas. After the win, Volkov discussed his takedown defense with Daniel Cormier.
“I was expecting him to use all of his strength to try and get that first takedown”, Volkov began, through his translator. “And then, I figured that he couldn’t do it, so I had to keep moving forward. I’d like to thank my entire team, everybody who helped me prepare and really worked on my wrestling, and now we’re just going to keep moving forward.”
What has Alexander Volkov done in his training camp to refine his gameplan against a tough customer at the shop like Tuivasa? Tune into the UFC 293 co-main event and find out.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC 293 co-main event looks to favor Alexander Volkov, a black belt in Tsu Shin Gen with brown belts in both Kyokushin karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Tai Tuivasa’s background in both boxing and kickboxing.
Tuivasa Can End the Fight Quickly
As has been illustrated throughout his MMA career, Tai Tuivasa is deadly when the command to fight is given. He’s been able to end the contest before most fans are back from the kitchen with their bag of chips, something he violently illustrated during his March 2021 fight vs. Harry Hunsucker.
Even though the fight was scheduled for three rounds at five minutes per round, he needed less than one minute to put an exclamation point on the story. While Hunsucker opened up the bout with fast hands, it was all Tuivasa, all the time for as long as this one lasted.
Tuivasa chopped up Hunsucker’s legs with several kicks before dropping him thanks to a shot to the head. Even though Hunsucker tried to stay in the contest, the former’s attack was too much to bear.
If Tuivasa can work downstairs with leg kicks to start the fight, look for him to aim for a body shot or a punch to the head. It might be the opening he needs to win this fight.
Volkov Has Nasty Ground and Pound Shots
In the other corner, Alexander Volkov can be just as nasty on the ground. One need look no further than his fight versus Romanov back in March.
During the first round of a scheduled three, Volkov withstood a takedown by driving his body against the cage fence. He broke free and eventually took Romanov down, assuming back mount and pinning Romanov down.
A flurry of head shots almost ended the fight, if not for Romanov getting out of the way of the onslaught. This reprieve was ill-fated, with Volkov returning to ground and pound from the back mount to finish the TKO.
All it will take for Alexander Volkov to win the UFC 293 co-main event is just one takedown. If he takes Tuivasa down, it’s a wrap.
The UFC 293 co-main event is another reminder of the one constant about MMA fights: One punch can end the affair. Don’t blink. You might miss everything.
Prediction: Tai Tuivasa by First-Round TKO.