UFC Fight Night 149 Betting Preview: Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik Rumble in Russia

Apr 20, 2019 04:00 PM EDT

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alistair Overeem (left), Aleksei Oleinik (right).

UFC Fight Night 149 betting odds: Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik

  • Alistair Overeem -245
  • Alexey Oleinik +200
  • Fight Time: Approx. 3:30 p.m. EST
  • Channel: ESPN+

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On Saturday, April 20, the UFC’s second event in Russia goes down in Saint Petersburg. Aleksei Oleinik submitted Mark Hunt in the main event of the UFC’s inaugural Russian event in September.

Just over seven months later, Oleinik again finds himself in the main event. This time around, Oleinik (57-11-1) is facing off against MMA legend Alistair Overeem (44-17).

Oleinik is taking the fight on fewer than three weeks notice, as Overeem was initially slated to fight sixth-ranked contender Alexander Volkov, who dropped out of the fight on April 3 due to an undisclosed reason.

Let’s take a deeper look into this latest version of the classic striker versus grappler matchup.

How Overeem can win

Coming off brutal back-to-back knockout losses, “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem got back in the win column last November with a win over UFC-newcomer Sergey Pavlovich. Against Pavlovich, Overeem was able to successfully land clinch strikes, secure the takedown, and finish with ground-and-pound.

Throughout his professional MMA career — which started in October 1999 — Overeem has undergone several transformations. The veteran grappler who showed up against Pavlovich is just the latest incarnation of the Dutch kickboxer.

Initially a light heavyweight, who was just as likely to submit his opponent as knock them out, Overeem put on massive size in the mid/late-2000’s and moved up to heavyweight. “Ubereem” reinvented himself as a dominant kickboxer and even won the K-1 2010 World Grand Prix.

Since joining the UFC in 2011, Overeem’s strength has been his striking. Six of Overeem’s nine UFC wins have been via knockout. In the UFC, Overeem is ranked:

  • No. 1 in significant strike accuracy (73.1%) all-time regardless of weight class
  • No. 6 in strikes absorbed per minute (2.37) among active heavyweights
  • No. 7 in knockdowns (8) all-time among heavyweights
  • No. 8 in strike differential (+1.33) among active heavyweights
  • No. 10 in significant strikes landed (442) among active heavyweights
  • No. 10 in significant strikes landed per minute (3.70) among active heavyweights

Unsurprisingly, Overeem’s key to victory is simply to keep the fight on the feet. He has the striking edge against Oleinik in every major statistic:

Fortunately for Overeem, there aren’t many tactical adjustments needed for this matchup. He’s one of the most active and accurate strikers in UFC heavyweight history, while his opponent has a negative strike differential and has never finished an opponent in the UFC via strikes.

Overeem is more than capable in the clinch and on the ground, but there’s no reason for him to even test those waters. Any sort of grappling exchange provides Oleinik with an opening into the fight. Overeem’s 73% takedown defense rate should bode well for the Dutchman here.

“Ubereem” just needs to stay at range and pick his shots until either the bell rings or his opponent falls.

How Oleinik can win

At 6-2 in the UFC and riding a two-fight win streak, “The Boa Constrictor” Alexey Oleinik has quietly put together one of the best runs in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Oleinik’s latest win — a first-round submission via rear-naked choke — was the perfect microcosm of his UFC career. In the 4:26 that his fight against Mark Hunt lasted, Oleinik was out-landed 2:1 in significant strikes and was clearly hobbled by the powerful leg kicks his opponent was landing at an 80% success rate.

However, even though he was 11% (3/26) in total strikes landed, Oleinik knew what had to be done. “The Boa Constrictor” secured a takedown (his fifth attempt of the round) and summarily submitted Hunt via choke.

The opportunity to attempt submissions is predictive of Oleinik’s ability to win in the UFC:

  • 100% (6/6) of Oleinik’s UFC wins have been via submission
  • 79% (45/57) of Oleinik’s career wins have been via submission
  • Oleinik is ranked No. 1 in submission attempts per 15 minutes (2.7) and No. 6 in submission attempts (8) all-time among UFC heavyweights

Oleinik’s path to victory is simple: he must find a way to secure his vice-like grip around the neck of Overeem. Every second Oleinik is not in the process of securing a submission he will be losing the fight.

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