Who doesn’t love a good “striker vs. grappler” matchup? It’s wildly entertaining to see two opposite styles clash – you know exactly what each fighter needs to do to win, you just don’t know who will be the one to impose their offense.
This Saturday’s main event between Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik presents one of the most extreme versions of the classic matchup possible. In Lewis, you’ve got a heavyweight with one of the highest KO ratios in the division. He’s a true knockout puncher who bides his time and unleashes violent, fight-ending assaults. His ground game? Not so great.
Then you’ve got Aleksei Oleinik, a veteran of over 80 pro MMA fights. In 59 career victories, the Russian has scored submissions in 46 of them. Fun fact: he’s the only UFC fighter to win with an ezekiel choke inside the octagon, and he’s done it twice. This dude is anything but a journeyman – he’s been rock solid since joining the best MMA organization in the world.
In the co-main event, Chris Weidman makes his last stand. Not saying that this is a pink slip fight for the former middleweight champion, just that he could effectively be rendered irrelevant by Omari Akhmedov. Weidman is in a deep funk, losing five of his past six – all by way of knockout. The caveat is that he’s only been fighting elite dudes. That’s not the case here. Akhmedov is a good fighter, but he’s a tier below Weidman’s past opponents. If the All-American gets shut down once again, he’s in danger of becoming a human stepping stone.
There’s a lot to like about the top two fights – including some solid bets at the UFC online sportsbook. Let’s peep the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu and break down your best picks.
Main Event, Heavyweight
Aleksei Oleinik +171
Derrick Lewis -219
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +425 / -675
Our pick: Oleinik to win at +171
Lewis had a nice cinderella run to a title shot, but the clock has struck midnight for The Black Beast. Nobody believed he was a serious title contender, and DC quickly proved that there are levels to this. Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt both exposed the technical limitations of Lewis’ striking. Basically, what we’ve got is a big, hefty dude with killshot power and tons of heart.
Obviously Oleinik will always be at risk of getting waylaid by Lewis at any time, and this is a five round fight. But Lewis’ last two fights – both wins – could be a sign that it’s getting easier to tie up the American. Blagoy Ivanov and Ilir Latifi are noticeably smaller than Lewis, and are not particularly fast guys. They were both able to tie things up and grind to a decision. Oleinik is much, much better at grappling then either of them.
Lewis is overly reliant on getting that knockout – he is never the aggressor, nor does he assert himself in the cage. We’ve seen him willingly give up rounds just waiting to get his shots off. And if Oleinik gets a hold of his back, this could end very, very quickly. We absolutely love the Russian at this price. If you’re feeling lucky, take him to win by submission.
Co-Main Event, Middleweight
Chris Weidman -121 vs. Omari Akhmedov -109
Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -140 / +110
Our Pick: Akhmedov to win at -109
It seems like the UFC really wants to get Weidman back into the win column. As a strong wrestler, Weidman can really test Akhmedov’s subpar takedown defense. It is a bit strange that a good offensive wrestler like Akhmedov has so much trouble fighting off takedowns.
But we simply have no faith in Weidman. He’s 36 years old and his chin is irreparably cracked. Like, Andrei Arlvoski levels of cracked. All it takes is one big hit to put Chris in a state that he can’t recover from. Akhmedov might not have a bunch of knockouts, but he is the type of guy that throws 100% into all of his punches. He only needs to land one or two to put himself in a situation to win. Getting nearly even money on him is a good deal.
The other bet you might to look at is that the fight doesn’t go the distance. While Akhmedov is something of a decision machine, Wediman hasn’t seen the scorecards for seven straight fights.
Check out the latest UFC fight odds.