Injuries have led to the shuffling of the main event of this UFC’s forthcoming card in Russia, along with 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 out of this fight due to injury, and the UFC opted to remove Oleynik out of 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 at 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 looked fantastic against Pavlovich and revealed that he still has some gas left in the tank in age 38. Of course, while he showed his vaunted finishing abilities against Pavlovich, the danger of Overeem being pumped out himself is always there every time he steps to the Octagon because his chin is quite questionable at this stage of his profession. Luckily for Overeem, while Volkov would have had a fantastic chance to knock him out, the odds are Oleynik is going to look to take this battle to the ground, which makes this a more 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 was deserving of a big fight for quite sometime, yet for whatever reason was booked to combat a mid-tier heavyweight in the shape of Harris, which drew criticisms from those who pay close attention to matchmaking. Rather, an injury into Volkov helped him out as he will now get his chance to fight a top-10 ranked opponent in Overeem, and an impressive win here could push him closer into the title picture from the wide-open UFC heavyweight division.
Though Oleynik is a magician on the mat, Overeem is no slouch there either, and on the toes you need to provide the Dutchman a good-sized advantage. I’m curious to see what the line is for this bout after Overeem was a dog against Pavlovich, but in my eyes 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 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 from 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 from back-to-back endings 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 favor Shtyrkov quite heavily in this respect due to the fact he’ll be battling in Russia and because I think Clark has to be faded.
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