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MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC on ESPN+ 7.
UFC on ESPN+ 7 takes place Saturday at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia. The card streams entirely on ESPN+.
Alistair Overeem (44-17 MMA, 9-6 UFC)
- Height: 6’4″ Age: 38 Weight: 247 lbs. Reach: 80″
- Last fight: TKO win over Sergei Pavlovich (Nov. 24, 2018)
- Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, Co.)
- Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
- Risk management: Good
+ Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight titles
+ K-1 grand prix heavyweight champion (2010)
+ ADCC European winner
+ 22 KO victories
+ 17 submission wins
+ 32 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Excellent footwork
+ Accurate shot selection
+ Devastating knees and kicks
+ Crafty clinch game
+ Underrated takedown ability
+ Solid top control
^ Good grip-fighting/ground striking
+ Dangerous guillotine choke
– Dropped or stopped in 8 of last 14 fights
Aleksei Oleinik (57-11-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
- Height: 6’2″ Age: 41 Weight: 235 lbs. Reach: 80″
- Last fight: Submission win over Mark Hunt(Sept. 15, 2018)
- Camp: American Top Team (Florida/Russia)
- Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
- Risk management: Fair
+ 2x combat sambo world champion
+ Master of sports in combat sambo
+ 8 KO victories
+ 45 submission wins
+ 45 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Deceptively heavy hands
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Crafty inside the clinch
^ Sets up chokes and takedowns
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Works well from topside
+ Dangerous and diverse submissions
^ Scrambles well to secure them
+/- Aggressive pace and pressure
^ Traditionally takes damage
Point of interest: The price of pursuit
The main event in St. Petersburg features a heavyweight showdown between two of the most potent first-round finishers in the division.
Starting off on the feet, I suspect that Aleksei Oleinik will be the man who is in full pursuit.
Looking like a mercenary who stepped off the screen of a movie, Oleinik makes no bones about his mission once the bell rings. Aggressively stalking at a borderline lurch, the 41-year-old makes his attacks somewhat unpredictable, but at the cost of carrying a porous defense.
Luckily for Oleinik, he is a durable warrior who recovers well and is difficult to shake from his objective. Furthermore, his willingness to close the distance (albeit reckless at times), allows Oleinik to transition from wading hooks to clinch warfare so quickly.
Oleinik also has a deceptive ability to counter, occasionally timing an opponent’s kicks or entries with success. Still, the crafty vet will be playing with fire should he gamble too liberally with his chin in this contest against the countering abilities of his current counterpart.
Enter Alistair Overeem.
When facing aggressive forward movers in the past, Overeem typically elects to hang just outside of range for safe distance – keeping his space – and looking for his openings to strike. If you have been watching Overeem since his days in PRIDE, then you will know that the Dutchman didn’t always fight this way.
Although the striking upgrades made during the K-1 chapter of his career helped him immensely, it wasn’t until Overeem’s run of UFC knockout losses that we saw him adjust his footwork and approach.
Already dangerous off of his stance shifts, it was Overeem’s confidence in his head movement and technique that often allowed him to plot in front of his opponents longer than he needed to. But after a series of camp changes during his run of losses, Overeem seemed to take things to another level at Jackson-Wink, where he would embrace a slightly different method than before.
Like many fighters who come from that camp, Overeem will circle more comfortably from the outside as he looks to sharpshoot his attacks like a torpedo plane on a bombing run. Among the highest striking accuracy in the division, this style is optimal for Overeem and also plays a huge role in protecting his chin from unnecessary roughness.
Technical advantages aside, Overeem statistically has been dropped or stopped in 8 of his last 14 fights, which makes this a full-fledged heavyweight affair while it’s on the feet.
Next point of interest: Clinch country
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