Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik headline UFC Fight Night 149, the promotion company’s second trip to Russia, Saturday at Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg.
The 12-fight card features a battle between the No. 7 and No. 9 UFC heavyweights, along with the co-main event between lightweights Islam Makhachev (16-1) and Arman Tsarukyan (13-1).
Dutch mixed martial artist Overeem is pursuing his first two-fight win streak since 2017, when he defeated Mark Hunt by knockout and Fabricio Werdum by majority decision. The 38-year-old, 265-pounder has won via knockout 22 times in his career and is hoping a successful bout Saturday will send him back into title contention after suffering losses in two of his last three fights.
UFC originally slated Overeem against Alexander Volkov, but the No. 6 heavyweight withdrew from the contest. Now the “Demolition Man” is set to face grappling specialist Oleinik (57-11) who has scored 45 victories via submission and four of his last five by way of choke. The “Boa Constrictor” defeated Hunt with a rear naked choke in his last bout Sept. 15, which followed his submission win over Junior Albini.
Overeem is the -240 favorite ahead of the fight, as one of the better heavyweights from a technical standpoint. However, the world-champion kickboxer has been unable to garner the type of impressive win streak he achieved before he failed a drug test in 2012, which caused him to lose his fighting license for nine months. Since then Overeem has shifted from a more aggressive strategy to a cautious kickboxing game.
Oleinik (+195) will present a test, with his mix of power hooks and chokes. He’ll try to take Overeem to the mat, where he can do his most lethal work. He scored both the first and second Ezekiel chokes in UFC history, and he’ll search for a chance to put Overeem in an adverse position to submit the powerhouse.
Oleinik’s grappling game comes with risk, but it also poses quite the payoff. Overeem could end this with one vital blow, but look for the Russian to secure an upset win in his home country against the once-dominant heavyweight.
See the full odds on UFC Fight Night’s main card at BetAmerica.