MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 149, a five-round heavyweight bout between veterans Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik.
Alistair Overeem (-260)
Overeem (44-17, 1 NC) is the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and is 9-6 overall in the UFC. The 38-year-old Dutchman is one of the longest-tenured veterans in heavyweight MMA as he made his pro debut way back in 1999. For the last 20 years, Overeem has consistently ranked as one of the top heavyweights in the world and has fought and competed in all of the sport’s best promotions. Since the fall of Strikeforce, Overeem has been in the UFC since 2011 and has put together a solid, yet inconsistent run. At times, he’s looked amazing, such as when he knocked out Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt. But at other times he has fallen, getting knocked out six times in the UFC alone including a brutal KO loss to Francis Ngannou in 2017 that many believed would end his career. Another TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes followed, but Overeem rebounded nicely with a TKO win of his own over prospect Sergey Pavlovich that showed he still has some gas left in the tank. Another title run may be out of the question at this point, but Overeem remains a dangerous heavyweight opponent for anyone in the division.
Aleksei Oleinik (+220)
Oleinik (57-11-1) is one of the sport’s most respected veteran heavyweights, having competed as a pro since 2006 for many of the top promotions in the sport. The Russian is a submission master and has won 45 fights by submission, which is astonishing. Since joining the UFC in 2014, he’s racked up a 6-2 record with all of his wins coming by stoppage, including two rarely-seen Ezekiel chokes. Anytime Oleinik can get his opponent to the mat he has the chance to submit them, but historically his standup has been his weak point, and knockout wins for him have been few and far between. Like any heavyweight, Oleinik can be knocked out, but his ground game makes him a dangerous opponent for anyone who stands opposite of him inside the Octagon. Originally set to face Walt Harris at UFC Fight Night 150, Oleinik was shifted up to fight Overeem at this event following an injury to Alexander Volkov. It’s the biggest fight of his career to date, and if he can win he’ll be a new title contender in the UFC heavyweight division.
This is a great fight between two of the longest-tenured heavyweights in the sport, but it’s essentially a striker vs. grappler type of fight. With his KO power and striking advantage, Overeem will likely be looking to keep this fight on the feet and finish Oleinik there, while we all know Oleinik will be looking for the takedown from the get-go to try and get a finish on the ground. Overeem has very solid wrestling and an underrated grappling game himself, so he should be able to stuff Oleinik’s takedown attempts and keep the fight standing. Even if Oleinik does get the fight to the ground, Overeem should prove difficult to submit. Overeem’s chin is always a question mark and if Oleinik can clip him there’s the chance Oleinik could actually get the knockout himself. Historically, though, Oleinik hasn’t been much of a knockout threat, and even though Overeem’s chin is questionable it seems unlikely Oleinik lands a punch to put him out. On the flipside, although Oleinik’s chin has held up well the last few years, he’s a guy who has been knocked out quite a few times himself, and if Overeem touches his chin he could put him to sleep as well. More than likely Overeem is going to have a big edge in the standup, and Oleinik is going to have problems getting the fight to the ground. It’s a five-round fight between two heavyweights, and 25 minutes is a long time inside the cage for both guys to survive. I think Overeem shows off his world-class striking in this fight, and gets the TKO.
Pick: Alistair Overeem wins via TKO