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Injuries have contributed to the shuffling of the main 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 the struggle due to injury, and the UFC opted to eliminate 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 at 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 as an underdog. Many bettors and fans composed off Overeem after back-to-back brutal knockout losses to Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou, but he looked fantastic against Pavlovich and showed that he still has some gas left in the tank in age 38. Obviously, while he showed his vaunted finishing skills against Pavlovich, the danger of Overeem being knocked out himself is always there each time he steps to the Octagon as his chin is very suspicious at this stage of his career. 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 fight to the ground, making this a more favorable matchup for”The Reem.”
Oleynik (57-11-1) is 6-2 at the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back submission wins over Mark Hunt and Junior Albini. Among the most underrated heavyweights in MMA history, Oleynik was deserving of a significant fight for quite sometime, yet for whatever reason was reserved to combat a mid-tier heavyweight in the shape of Harris, that drew criticisms from those who pay close attention to matchmaking. Instead, an injury into 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 could push him closer to 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 on the feet you have to provide the Dutchman a good-sized advantage. I’m curious to find out what the lineup is for this bout after Overeem was a dog against Pavlovich, but in my eyes he should 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 meet at UFC Fight Night 149. Marcel Dorff broke the information. Shtyrkov is filling in on short notice for the wounded Abdul-Kerim Edilov. Clark (9-3) is 3-3 at the UFC and is coming off of a TKO loss to Aleksandar Rakic. He has not looked very good 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 off of back-to-back finishes 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 experience, I would prefer Shtyrkov quite heavily in this bout due to the fact he’ll be battling in Russia and because I believe Clark must be faded.
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