MMA Legend Alistair Overeem to Fight Surging Prospect Augusto Sakai

In a heavyweight bout, Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai will headline UFC Vegas 9 this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Updated: Sept. 3, 2020 • 6:01 PM ET

Alistair Overeem is seeking another shot at a UFC title.

Legendary fighter Alistair Overeem and surprising heavyweight prospect Augusto Sakai will main event the UFC’s return to the Apex in Las Vegas this Saturday for UFC Vegas 9.

The No. 6 ranked Overeem is coming off a comeback, second-round TKO win over Walt Harris in another main event fight in May. Since unsuccessfully challenging Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title in 2016, Overeem has a 5-3 record and continues to show that just when he’s about to be written off as a contender, he proves he still has a ton of fight left in him.

Although Overeem is 40 years old, he’s still known as one of the most dangerous strikers in the heavyweight division. The Dutch fighter has fought professionally since 1999 (46-18, 1 NC) with wins over some of the best fighters in the history of the sport, including Vitor Belfort (twice), Sergei Kharitonov, Mark Hunt (twice), Fabricio Werdum (twice), Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Alexey Oleynik.

Despite the abundance of success, Overeem has often found himself one big win away from being mentioned in title shot conversations. A victory over a rising young contender such as Sakai would give him two straight wins and put him back in the mix for the belt. Unfortunately for Overeem, he has already lost to three of the top 5 ranked heavyweights (Ngannou, Blaydes, Rozenstruik) and has never fought the other two fighters currently ranked in the top 5, recently retired Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis.

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Should Overeem win on Saturday, a fight with Lewis would seem to make the most sense with the winner having a great case for being the next to challenge for the belt (after the next challenger for champion Stipe Miocic is solidified).

The No. 9 ranked Sakai (15-1 overall, 4-0 in UFC) has won six straight fights, most recently defeating Blagoy Ivanov by split-decision in May. He’ll take a major step up in competition against Overeem, and a win would certainly announce the 29-year-old’s arrival in the heavyweight division as a real contender.

The Brazilian fighter knows what could be at stake if he cannot finish Overeem before the fight is left in the judges’ hands.

“Everyone wants to see a fast finish,” Sakai recently said via MMA Junkie. “That’s also what I want. I never like it when it goes to the judges. But it’s part of our sport.

“This is MMA. Across from me stands another tough fighter who trained just as hard, and wants to win just as badly. I accept that I won’t always win by KO or submission. Decisions aren’t always pretty, but they’re part of our game. It happens.”

Sakai also believes he’s up for the challenge that awaits him on Saturday.

“He’s very experienced,” Sakai said. “He has good skills. He hits hard, and so do I. He’s a good striker, as am I. When we meet, I’ll show that I’m ready for this challenge. I’m 110 percent ready for one more win.”

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST

Women’s bantamweight bout - No. 15 Sijara Eubanks vs. Karol Rosa

Welterweight bout - Michel Pereira vs. Zelim Imadaev

Featherweight bout - Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Natividad

Lightweight bout - Thiago Moises vs. Jalin Turner

 

ESPN+ Prelims at 6 p.m. EST

Middleweight bout - Andre Muniz vs. Bartosz Fabinski

Women’s flyweight bout - No. 8 Viviane Araujo vs. No. 12 Montana de la Rosa

Heavyweight bout - Alexander Romanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Bantamweight bout - Cole Smith vs. Hunter Azure

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