Injuries have contributed to the shuffling of the chief event of this UFC’s forthcoming card in Russia, along with my initial 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 fight due to injury, and the UFC chose to remove Oleynik from his scheduled UFC Fight Night 150 bout against Walt Harris to take on Overeem instead. This card takes place April 20 at Venue Yubileyny Sports Palace City in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and ESPN’s Ariel Helwani has been the first to break news of the chief event swap.
Overeem (44-17, 1 NC) is 9-6 overall from the UFC and in his last fight knocked out Sergey Pavlovich within an underdog. Many bettors and fans wrote off Overeem after back-to-back brutal knockout losses to Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou, but he seemed fantastic against Pavlovich and revealed he still has some gas left in the tank in age 38. Obviously, while he showed off his vaunted finishing skills against Pavlovich, the danger of Overeem being pumped out himself is always there every time he steps into the Octagon as his chin is very questionable at this stage of his profession. Luckily for Overeem, while Volkov could have had a good opportunity to knock him out, the odds are Oleynik is going to seem to take this battle to the floor, which makes this a favorable matchup for”The Reem.”
Oleynik (57-11-1) is 6-2 in the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back entry wins over Mark Hunt and Junior Albini. Among the most underrated heavyweights in MMA history, Oleynik has been deserving of a significant fight for quite sometime, yet for whatever reason was reserved to fight a mid-tier heavyweight in the shape of Harris, which drew criticisms from people who pay close attention to matchmaking. Instead, an injury to Volkov assisted him out as he’ll now get his opportunity to fight a top-10 ranked competition in Overeem, and also 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 about the feet you have to provide that the Dutchman a good-sized advantage. I am curious to find out exactly what the lineup is for this bout after Overeem was a puppy against Pavlovich, but in my eyes that he must be the favored to conquer Oleynik.
Devin Clark vs. Ivan Shtyrkov, UFC Fight Night 149
At the same time, light heavyweights Devin Clark and Ivan Shtyrkov will fulfill UFC Fight Night 149. Marcel Dorff broke the news. Shtyrkov is filling in on short notice for its wounded Abdul-Kerim Edilov. Clark (9-3) is 3-3 at the UFC and is coming from a TKO loss to Aleksandar Rakic. He hasn’t looked very good in the UFC at either middleweight or light heavyweight, and with a reduction here is very likely to be released from his contract. Shtyrkov (15-0-1) is coming from back-to-back finishes over UFC vets Fabio Maldonado and Thiago Silva in the Russian regional circuit, and he also 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 battling in Russia and because I believe Clark must be faded.
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