UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Oleinik Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Updated: April 18, 2019 • 5:55 PM ET


St. Petersburg, Russia will host this weekend's UFC Fight Night event.

St. Petersburg, Russia will host a UFC event for the second time in the promotion’s history on Saturday, as UFC Fight Night features a heavyweight bout between No. 7 Alistair Overeem and No. 9 Alexey Oleinik.

The 38-year-old Overeem has had a storied MMA career, but has experienced mixed results in the UFC. He challenged for the heavyweight title at UFC 203 in 2016, but Stipe Miocic knocked him out in the first round of that fight. Following the title loss, Overeem won two straight fights over Mark Hunt and former champion Fabricio Werdum, but he followed those performances with a spectacular knockout loss to Francis Ngannou and a TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes.

Overeem rebounded well in his last fight with a TKO victory over UFC newcomer Sergey Pavlovich in November, bringing his overall record to 44-17 (1 NC). He has competed against some of the best fighters in MMA history and defeated the likes of Werdum (twice), Hunt (twice), Junior Dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski, Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar, Vitor Belfort (twice) and Sergei Kharitonov.

Overeem (9-6 in UFC) is also a former professional kickboxer with a record of 10-4, while he was also the K-1 World Grand Prix champion in 2010. The Dutch fighter has had a long fight career with many battles, and the biggest concern going into every fight is his chin’s durability. Overeem has been stopped by strikes 13 times in his MMA career and three times in kickboxing, while all six of his UFC losses have come by knockout or TKO.

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The positive for Overeem is that he’s one of the most decorated heavyweight strikers in MMA history, so he still has the ability to instantaneously end a fight. He knows the end is near, but he’s not done yet.

“It definitely feels special,” Overeem recently said via UFC.com “I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to walk this journey, and I’m still in good health. I’m enjoying it day-by-day, fight-by-fight and not looking too much ahead.

“I do realize the end is coming, and I’m not going to fight forever. I’m probably going to complete 25 years, so that’s another three years, but I’m just enjoying it. I enjoy the lifestyle. I enjoy improving my game every session, every week, every month, and we’re peaking right now. I’m looking forward to the fight. I’m looking forward to shining again.”

Overeem was originally scheduled to face former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov, but health concerns forced Volkov to withdraw from the bout.

Oleynik (57-11-1), who happily stepped in for Volkov, is a submission specialist with an even more extensive MMA history than Overeem. Forty-five of the 41-year-old’s wins have come by submission with his last victory being a first-round submission of Mark Hunt by rear-naked choke in September. The Ukrainian is 6-2 in the UFC with victories over Junior Albini, Travis Browne, Viktor Pesta, Jared Rosholt, Anthony Hamilton and Hunt.

Oleynik also has victories outside of the UFC over notable fighters who include Mirko Cro Cop and Jeff Monson. Beginning in March 2012, he won 11 straight fights and was one of the busiest combatants in MMA. Oleynik knows he’s entering one of the most difficult fights of his career, as the two fighters have previously trained together.

“The last time we trained together was four or five years ago,” Oleinik said via MMA Junkie. “I couldn’t do anything on Alistair, even in grappling. I thought I would be better in wrestling and grappling, but I couldn’t do anything to Alistair.

“I couldn’t choke him. I couldn’t submit him. He fought twice with Fabricio Werdum, and even Fabricio couldn’t submit him or choke him.”

Oleinik continued, “When the UFC proposed this fight to me, I thought for 10 seconds and said, ‘Yes.’ For me, more important to me is the name of my opponent rather than the place it takes place. If the UFC proposed for me to fight in the U.S. or any other country, it doesn’t matter. I just want big-name opponents. That’s the most important thing to me.”


The rest of the main card on ESPN+

Lightweight bout - Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan

Heavyweight bout - Sergei Pavlovich vs. Marcelo Golm

Light heavyweight bout - Ivan Shtyrkov vs. Devin Clark

Women's flyweight bout - No. 7 Roxanne Modafferi vs. No. 12 Antonina Shevchenko

Middleweight bout - Krzysztof Jotko vs. Alen Amedovski


ESPN+ Prelims

Featherweight bout - Movsar Evloev vs. Seung-woo Choi

Welterweight bout - Sultan Aliev vs. Keita Nakamura

Lightweight bout - Alexander Yakovlev vs. Alex da Silva

Heavyweight bout - No. 10 Marcin Tybura vs. No. 13 Shamil Abdurakhimov

Light heavyweight bout - Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk

Lightweight bout - Magomed Mustafaev vs. Rafael Fiziev