This Saturday will see UFC travel to Russia for only the second time in the company’s history, and once again they are giving their Russian fans a raw deal with a lack of star power on the card.
The event will come live from the Yubileyny Sports Palace in St Petersburg. Although the card is missing the star power that spectators may have wanted; at least the card should prove for a good night of action for the MMA purists.
The main event of the card will see Alistair Overeem take on Aleksei Oleinik; who will be stepping in on short notice after the withdrawal of Alexander Volkov.
There are also tasty bouts in the form of Arman Tsarukyan taking on Islam Makhachev, and a UFC debut for the undefeated Ivan Shtyrkov.
Alistair Overeem vs Aleksei Oleinik Preview
Alistair Overeem is somewhat of an MMA legend and is looking to get back into the title picture after losing two of his last three bouts. Meanwhile, his opponent is ranked two places lower and will be looking to continue his fine recent record, following a heavyweight submission victory over Mark Hunt in his last UFC fight.
Overeem’s status as one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA has taken a beating over recent bouts following consecutive defeats against Curtin Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. However, he was quick to bounce back from these defeats in November with a first-round knockout win over Sergei Pavlovich.
The former K-1 kickboxing champion credited his return to winning return to the decision to train with Team Elevation ahead of the Pavlovich fight. There were undoubtedly differences in his performance from the previous outings. He was more aggressive and took the action to his opponent; something that wasn’t the case in his patient striking combinations against Blaydes and Ngannou.
He was dully rewarded with the change and achieved the knockout within the first round. The crucial asset that he will look to put to good use in this bout will be his striking power, while his best work is done when utilising his powerful knees.
However, Overeem would be wise to stay away from the ground due to the risk of playing to the strengths of Oleinik. That is just shown on the stats where Oleinik’s takedown defence is only 11%.
He wants to be on the mat, especially against opponents who have weak grappling skills; like Overeem. Oleinik’s submission record is something to behold. He has won 45 victories by way of submission throughout his career and has his reputation in the UFC revolves around that.
His Ezekiel choke almost certainly signals the end for his rivals; with six of his wins in UFC coming from this hold.
Alistair Overeem vs Aleksei Oleinik Prediction
This is a classic battle that has become synonymous with UFC. It sees a fine grappler, and a fine striker comes head to head in a real clash of styles.
It isn’t expected that this will be an instant classic, and both men will be reluctant to make their move early; in fear of making the fatal mistake. However, Overeem’s experience and ability to keep his distance, combined with his kickboxing skills will make him the likely knockout winner of this bout.
Tip: Overeem to win via KO/TKO
UFC Night Night 149 undercard tips
Islam Makhachev vs Arman Tsarukyan – KO/TKO
Sergei Pavlovich vs Marcelo Golm – Decision
Roxanne Modafferi vs Antonia Shevchenko – Decision