Injuries have contributed to the shuffling of the chief event of the UFC’s upcoming card in Russia, and my first thoughts on the new headliner are below.
Alistair Overeem vs. Alexey Oleynik, UFC Fight Night 149
The main event of UFC Fight Night 149 is going to be a five-round heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Alexey Oleynik. Alexander Volkov pulled from this struggle due to injury, and the UFC chose to remove Oleynik out of his scheduled UFC Fight Night 150 bout against Walt Harris to shoot on Overeem instead. This card takes place April 20 in Venue Yubileyny Sports Palace City in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to break news of the main event swap.
Overeem (44-17, 1 NC) is 9-6 overall from the UFC and in his final fight knocked out Sergey Pavlovich as an underdog. Many fans and bettors composed off Overeem after back-to-back brutal knockout losses to Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou, but he looked fantastic against Pavlovich and showed he still has some gas left in the tank in age 38. Obviously, while he showed off his vaunted finishing abilities against Pavlovich, the threat of Overeem being pumped himself out is always there each time he steps to the Octagon as his chin is very questionable at this stage of his profession. Fortunately for Overeem, while Volkov would have had a fantastic opportunity to knock him out, the chances are Oleynik is going to look to take this battle to the floor, which makes this a more favorable matchup for”The Reem.”
Oleynik (57-11-1) is 6-2 in the UFC and is coming from back-to-back submission wins over Mark Hunt and Junior Albini. Among the most underrated heavyweights in MMA history, Oleynik was deserving of a big fight for quite sometime, however for whatever reason was booked to fight a mid-tier heavyweight in the form of Harris, which drew criticisms from people who pay close attention to matchmaking. Rather, an injury to Volkov helped him out as he’ll now get his chance to fight a top-10 ranked opponent in Overeem, along with an impressive win here would push him closer into the title picture in the wide-open UFC heavyweight division.
Though Oleynik is a wizard on the mat, Overeem is no slouch there either, and on the feet you have to give that the Dutchman a good-sized benefit. I’m curious to find out exactly what the line is for this particular bout after Overeem was a dog against Pavlovich, but in my eyes that he should be the favored to conquer Oleynik.
Devin Clark vs. Ivan Shtyrkov, UFC Fight Night 149
As well, light heavyweights Devin Clark and Ivan Shtyrkov will fulfill at UFC Fight Night 149. Marcel Dorff broke the information. Shtyrkov is filling in on short notice for its wounded Abdul-Kerim Edilov. Clark (9-3) is 3-3 in the UFC and is coming from a TKO loss to Aleksandar Rakic. He hasn’t looked great in the UFC at either middleweight or light heavyweight, and with a reduction here is likely to be released from his contract. Shtyrkov (15-0-1) is coming off of back-to-back finishes over UFC vets Fabio Maldonado and Thiago Silva on the Russian regional circuit, and in addition, he holds remarkable wins over Antonio Silva, Jeff Monson and Ricco Rodriguez. Though Clark has more UFC expertise, I’d prefer Shtyrkov quite heavily in this bout because of the fact he will be fighting in Russia and also because I think Clark has to be faded.
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