Two veterans of the fight game headline this weekend's card in Russia.
We’re fresh off the mayhem that was UFC: 236, a show which packed two blockbuster five-round fights that will go down in history as one of, if not the best main and co-main event combos in the history of the organisation.
The UFC now makes its way back over to Europe, and onto their first ever show in St. Petersburg, Russia! The event has a heavyweight headliner, with a tail as old as the sport. In one corner we have Alistair Overeem, the Dutch kickboxing expert with a résumé as impressive as any, and in the other, Aleksei Oleinik the tough time-test submission specialist. Let’s get into this weekend’s picks for UFC: St. Petersburg!
Main Card Pick: Sergei Pavlovich (12-1-0) vs. Marcelo Golm (6-2-0):
In this bout we have a pair of heavyweights that have largely underwhelmed since they both joined the UFC. It’s a close one to call, with Pavlovich still being a question mark in regards to how skilled of a fighter his is. With that in mind, I believe Golm offers decent value in this fight at the current price. He being a young developing heavyweight offers promise of rapid improvements both mentally and technically following each passing fight.
Sergei will no-doubt seek to engage in a kickboxing style affair, although Golm should offer a more rounded offense, with a better ground-game. I do expect him to have some striking and strength deficiencies, but this line still seems wider than it should be. I’ll be taking a small stab on Golm here, and I fully expect this line to continue to come down between now and fight time.
Main Event/Main Card Double
In the main card middleweight opener we have the returning Krzysztof Jotko facing UFC newcomer Alen Amedovski. Jotko’s looked pretty good in his last few outings, although the results may not reflect that. He’s now returning from a year-long layoff, and one that hopefully will be provide the platform for a resurgence for the once promising Polish prospect. His opponent, Amedovski is a Macedonian knockout artist that boasts an impressive record of 8-0 (all of which have come via KO).
Amedovski has taken care of his opposition with relative ease to this point, although none have had the skills to the level that Jotko possess. If he can avoid Amedovski’s big shots, I fully expect that Jotko will be able to outwork him using his grappling and in doing so, either pursue a finish on the ground or win a fairly decisive decision.
Main Event – Heavyweight (265lbs): #7 Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (44-17-0) vs. #8 Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik (57-11-1):
In the card’s main event we have a heavyweight clash between “The Demolition Man” and “The Boa Constrictor”, two fighters whose nicknames set the perfect scene for what we can expect from both of them.
I see Overeem jumping straight in and immediately going to work on Oleinik. There’s no mistaking that there’s a huge gulf in the striking department, of which Overeem has the decided advantage. Oleinik’s slow plodding style should make it easy for the ‘Reem to mix it up high and low as the Russian steps in. I’m expecting a striking clinic as the tough Russian will seek to close the distance and get his hands onto the kickboxer in an attempt to take the fight to the mat with a trip or submission attempt. That is where his keys to victories lay, whether or not that he can do so another question entirely.
Alistair has only ever been submitted twice in his career, and the last of which happened almost 13 years ago, to Fabricio Werdum (a man known for his world class BJJ skills). Overeem’s durability to absorbing damage via strikes is also a concern as he’s experienced his fair share of knockout blows, however Oleinik isn’t one regarded for his stand-up game. I’m going with “The Demolition Man” to win with his powerful and accurate diversified striking offense, he makes a great parlay piece and he’s going to be our second and final leg this week.