MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 32, a five-round heavyweight bout between Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik. The event takes place on Saturday, August 8 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Derrick Lewis (-210)
Lewis (23-7, 1 NC) is the No. 4 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old American is 14-5 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Francis Ngannou, Alexander Volkov, Roy Nelson, Travis Browne, and Blagoy Ivanov, with losses to Junior dos Santos, Daniel Cormier, Mark Hunt, Shawn Jordan, and Matt Mitrione. Lewis is a big heavyweight with massive KO power. Out of his 23 career wins, 18 of them have come by knockout. He is known for coming back late in the fight as many of his wins in the UFC have come in round three or later. While offensively dangerous, Lewis is susceptible defensively. He has been finished in all five of his losses in the UFC, so as dangerous as he is with his power, he can be finished himself. Lewis is a dangerous heavyweight with a lot of good qualities to like about him, but he is not without his flaws.
Aleksei Oleinik (+175)
Oleinik (59-13, 1 NC) is the No. 10 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 43-year-old Russian is 8-4 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, and Travis Browne, with losses to Walt Harris, Alistair Overeem, Curtis Blaydes, and Daniel Omielanczuk. Oleinik is one of the most experienced heavyweights in the sport today, having competed as a pro since 1996. He has fought and defeated a who’s who of UFC heavyweights, with 54 wins by stoppage, including 46 victories by submission. He is arguably the most dominant submission fighter the heavyweight division has ever seen, and anytime he gets his opponents down to the mat they are in serious trouble. The problem with Oleinik historically has been his chin as he’s been knocked out seven times, including three times in the UFC. If he’s able to avoid the big shots of his opponents and get them to the mat he always has a chance to win by submission. But considering his age and the state of his chin, he has to make sure he doesn’t get hit in the face before the fight hits the mat.
Fight Breakdown: I believe there are only two outcomes for this bout. Either Lewis is able to knock Oleinik out, or Oleinik is able to get the submission. With five rounds to work, I don’t see any way this fight goes the distance. Both guys are very dangerous offensively with their specific skillsets, but both men have their kryptonite. For Lewis, he’s shown in the past that he’s incredibly dangerous with his striking, but he has also been knocked out a bunch of times and he has been submitted, as well. As for Oleinik, he might be the best heavyweight submission artist the sport has ever seen, but his chin has always been a massive question mark. If Lewis can land on Oleinik, I’m not sure if he can survive the power. But if Oleinik can avoid the big shots, get the takedowns, and get this fight to the mat, he will be at a big advantage as far as submissions go. I definitely think Lewis can win this fight, but to me, it’s more of a Pick ’em fight. The odds, however, suggest Lewis should be a big favorite which I don’t agree with. I think this fight is a lot closer than the odds are saying, and I’m going to go out on a limb and side with the underdog in Oleinik to pick up the upset submission win.
Prediction: Aleksei Oleinik wins via submission