The UFC travels to the Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia for UFC Fight Night 149 this weekend. The main event takes place in the heavyweight division where Alistair Overeem takes on Aleksei Oleinik.
At thirty-eight years of age, Alistair Overeem makes the walk for the sixty-second time. He is 1-2 over his last three fights. His most recent fight was at UFC Fight Night 141 where he finished Sergei Pavlovich in the first round. The two losses were to Francis Ngannou at UFC 218 and Curtis Blaydes at UFC 225. Overeem was stopped in both losses. Ngannou’s knockout of Overeem was one of the most vicious one-punch knockouts you’ll ever see. Of Overeem’s forty-four career wins, only five made to the judge’s scorecards. Over his twenty year career, Overeem has fought for Pride, Strikeforce, Dream, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship just to name a few.
Aleksei Oleinik is 2-1 over his last three. The loss came at the hands of Curtis Blaydes at UFC 217 via TKO due to doctor’s stoppage. The wins were against Junior Albini at UFC 224 and most recently Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 136. Both victories came by way of submission. The forty-one-year-old makes the walk for the sixty-ninth time. Of the Russian born fighter’s fifty-seven career wins, an astonishing forty-five were via submission. Between Oleinik and Overeem they have a combined one hundred and thirty-one professional fights.
The co-main takes place in the UFC lightweight division where Islam Makhachev goes up against Arman Tsarukyan. After suffering the first loss of his career to Adriano Martins at UFC 192, Islam Makhachev has rattled off four straight victories. His most recent win came at UFC on FOX 30 where he subbed Kajan Johnson in the first round. The twenty-seven-year-old has seven submission wins to go along with three via (T)KO in sixteen victories.
Arman Tsarukyan makes his UFC debut when he steps into the octagon opposite Makhachev. Tsarukyan’s last loss was at Modern Fighting Pankration-Eastern Rubicon back in December of 2015. His most recent win occurred at League S-70 – Platforma S-70:2018 where he finished Felipe Olivieri. At just twenty-two-years-old Tsarukyan makes the walk for the fifteenth time. He boasts ten finishes in thirteen professional victories.
An interesting match-up on the main card takes place in the women’s flyweight division where Roxanne Modafferi takes on Antonina Shevchenko. Modafferi is 1-2 in her most recent stint with the UFC. She does have prior UFC experience from back in 2013 when she fought Raquel Pennington at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale. Her most recent fight was at UFC 230 where she lost to Sijara Eubanks via unanimous decision. The thirty-six-year-old American born fighter makes the walk for the thirty-eighth time. Thirteen of her twenty-two professional wins went the distance.
Antonina Shevchenko has yet to taste defeat in her professional career. This will be the thirty-four-year-old’s second fight under the UFC banner. She won her debut against Ji Yeon Kim at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. Five of Shevchenko’s seven professional victories went the distance. With only seven fights under her belt, I’ll be interested to see if the experience of Modafferi plays a role in the fight.
Also on the main card, Sergei Pavlovich takes on Marcelo Golm, Devin Clark goes up against Ivan Shtyrkov and Krzysztof vs. Alen Amedovski.
Both the main card and the prelims will air on ESPN+. Please note the early time start. The prelims start at 9:15 am (CST) with the main card beginning at 12:00 pm (CST).
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Alistair Overeem (44-17, 1 NC) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (57-11-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Overeem -250; Oleinik +200
Pick: Overeem by (T)KO. I don’t see Oleinik having success at getting Overeem to the ground where he’ll have the biggest advantage. Obviously, there’s always a concern about Overeem’s chin and if Oleinik finds it he certainly has the power for a knockout. However, I don’t see that happening here. As long as Alistair can keep the fight on the feet I think he’ll get the finish.
Islam Makhachev (16-1) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (13-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Makhachev -345; Tsarukyan +260
Pick: Makhachev by (T)KO, but there is value in backing Tsarukyan at this price. While my official pick is Makhachev, there is a strong possibility I’ll be betting the underdog.
Sergei Pavlovich (12-1) vs. Marcelo Golm (6-2) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Pavlovich -250; Golm +200
Pick: Pavlovich by (T)KO.
Ivan Shtyrkov (15-0-1) vs. Devin Clark (9-3) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Shtyrkov -170; Clark +150
Pick: Shtyrkov by decision. Although this is Shtyrkov’s UFC debut, he has some impressive wins outside the promotion. A finish is very possible too.
Roxanne Modafferi (22-15) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (7-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Shevchenko -350; Modafferi +300
Pick: Shevchenko by decision. I won’t be surprised to see a finish here. The only chance Modafferi has a chance to win is to get the fight to the ground. I like Roxanne, but sadly I don’t see this going well for her.
Krzysztof Jotko (19-4) vs. Alen Amedovski (8-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Jotko -195; Amedovski +165
Pick: Jotko by (T)KO. Once Jotko took a step up in competition he’s lost three straight fights. The 0-3 record over his previous three concerns me, but I’m still taking the favorite here. Jotko needs to win this fight.
Movsar Evloev (10-0) vs. Sung Woo Choi (7-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Evloev -330; Choi +250
Pick: Evloev by (T)KO. However at this price, no thanks.
Sultan Aliev (14-3) vs. Keita Nakamura (34-9-2, 1 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Aliev -115; Nakamura -105
Pick: Nakamura by submission. I’ll take the more durable fighter who has fought better competition.
Alexander Yakovlev (23-8-1) vs. Alex da Silva (8-0) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Yakovlev -165; da Silva +135
Pick: da Silva by decision. This is da Silva’s UFC debut but due to Yakovlev’s long layoff I’m going with the underdog here.
Marcin Tybura (17-4) vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (19-4) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Tybura -145; Abdurakhimov +125
Pick: Tybura by (T)KO. Whomever wins gets to stick around for another fight in the UFC.
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-5) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (13-2, 1 NC) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Oleksiejczuk -200; Antigulov +170
Pick: Oleksiejczuk by (T)KO. Someone will get finished in this one.
Magomed Mustafaev (13-2) vs. Rafael Fiziev (6-0) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Fiziev -115; Mustafaev -115
Pick: Fiziev by decision. Fiziev has fought four times since the last time Mustfaev has been inside the cage. Although Mustafaev has fought better competition and this is Fiziev’s UFC debut, if I had to play it I’d back the small favorite. The line movement is telling here. Mustafaev was a -170 favorite at one point.
Enjoy the fights!