UFC Fight Night 87 Opening Odds Breakdown: Alistair Overeem vs. Andrei Arlovski

UFC Fight Night 87UFC Fight Night 87 Date: May 8th, 2016 Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands Venue: Ahoy Rotterdam Broadcast: Fox Sports 1 Alistair Overeem Controversy has surrounded former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem ever since he’s entered the UFC. A crushing debut against Brock Lesnar had him set up to fight for the UFC heavyweight title in just his second fight with the promotion. However, a test finding elevated testosterone levels had him pulled from his intended bout with Junior dos Santos. Knockout losses to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne would welcome him back to the Octagon after a year away, and it seemed Overeem’s time as a top fighter was done. However, wins in four of his next five bouts — including a knockout victory over Junior dos Santos in their showdown three and a half years after it was originally scheduled — has Overeem knocking on the door of the UFC title shot he never got. One more emphatic win over former champion Andrei Arlovski could punch his title to fight for the gold. Andrei Arlovski Following an already successful career that saw Andrei Arlovski capture the UFC heavyweight title and cash in on some big paydays outside of the UFC, ‘The Pitbull’ fell on hard time with four consecutive losses and several knockouts. The run of poor form had some calling for his retirement. Instead, Arlovski rebuilt himself by moving to Jackson-Winklejohn’s in Albuquerque, and facing some lower level competition. He lost only one of his next eight bouts (to Anthony Johnson), and found himself back in the UFC. After escaping with a split decision against Brendan Schaub, he knocked out Antonio Silva and Travis Browne (in a 2015 fight of the year contender) before taking a decision over Frank Mir. The four-fight streak had placed Arlovski in the unlikely position of UFC title contender again. He dropped a defacto number one contender’s bout to Stipe Miocic by TKO (his first such loss in five years), but remains in the top ten in the division. An impending bout with Alistair Overeem in the main event of UFC Fight Night 87 looms large for both men as a last grasp for a UFC title shot. Opening Odds Breakdown: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened Overeem a -210 favorite (bet $210 to win $100) and Arlovski a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160) at Several Bookmakers. Since then, a bit more money has come in on the former Strikeforce champion, and he now sits at -225 with the comeback on the former UFC champ at +185. It’s baffling that with such long, successful careers in MMA, Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem had never been towards the top of the heavyweight division at the same time until 2015. Arlovski had his run from 2004-2008, and Overeem was dominant from 2008-2011 and then both fell off for very similar reasons, their chins. Arlovski suffered his four straight losses in Afflicion and Strikeforce (three by knockout) that had many thinking he was done. Overeem is 14-3, 1 NC since the beginning of 2008, but the three losses are all knockouts, and happened in the span of four fights. Despite that massive chink in their armor, both have managed to tweak their games and get back into UFC title contention. Each man is much more defensively conscious these days, and that could result in an extremely slow pace in this main event. In fact, despite the power each possesses and their fragile chins, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this go the distance. Of course, it’s more likely that someone gets clipped along the 25 minutes and we get an emphatic finish, but I don’t expect much to take place prior to that punch landing (much like Overeem’s surprising win over Junior dos Santos). Given how easily Arlovski has been taken down in his recent UFC tenure, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Overeem pursue some takedowns to solidify otherwise close rounds. In terms of the striking in this fight, Overeem is the more accurate of the two, but his plodding movement and economical approach could open the door for Arlovski to rack up points with his (slightly) more active style and quicker hands. Arlovski will have to be careful not to back up to the cage however, as Overeem has the much better clinch and wrestling games, and a big size and strength advantage. Picking a side on this one is tough because I can see a path for either fighter to score a KO or win a decision, but I do like the fight to go over 1.5 rounds.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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