Injuries have led to the shuffling of the main event of the UFC’s forthcoming card in Russia, and 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 will be a five-round heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Alexey Oleynik. Alexander Volkov pulled out of the struggle due to injury, and the UFC opted to eliminate Oleynik out of his scheduled UFC Fight Night 150 bout against Walt Harris to shoot on Overeem instead. This card takes place April 20 at Venue Yubileyny Sports Palace City in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to break news of the chief event swap.
Overeem (44-17, 1 NC) is 9-6 overall in the UFC and in his last fight knocked out Sergey Pavlovich within an underdog. Many fans and bettors composed off Overeem after back-to-back brutal knockout losses to Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou, but he seemed fantastic against Pavlovich and showed he still has some gas left in the tank in age 38. Obviously, while he showed his vaunted finishing skills against Pavlovich, the threat of Overeem being knocked himself out is always there each time he steps into the Octagon as his chin is very suspicious at this stage of his profession. Luckily for Overeem, while Volkov could have had a good chance to knock him out, the chances are Oleynik is going to look to take this fight to the ground, making 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 has been deserving of a big fight for quite sometime, however for whatever reason was reserved to fight a mid-tier heavyweight in the form of Harris, which attracted criticisms from people who pay close attention to matchmaking. Instead, an injury to Volkov helped him out as he’ll now get his chance to combat a top-10 ranked opponent in Overeem, along with also an impressive win here would push him closer into the title picture from the wide-open UFC heavyweight division.
Although Oleynik is a magician on the mat, Overeem is no slouch there either, and about the feet you need to provide that the Dutchman a good-sized benefit. I’m curious to find out what the line is for this particular bout after Overeem was a dog against Pavlovich, but in my eyes that he must be the favorite to beat 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 news. 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 off of a TKO loss to Aleksandar Rakic. He has not looked very good in the UFC at either middleweight or light hearted, and with a loss here is very likely to be released from his contract. Shtyrkov (15-0-1) is coming from back-to-back endings over UFC vets Fabio Maldonado and Thiago Silva in 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 would favor Shtyrkov quite heavily in this respect because of the fact he will be battling in Russia and also because I believe Clark must be faded.
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