UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Oleinik staff picks and predictions
Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Oleinik, set for April 20th in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for Saturday’s UFC St. Petersburg card, and everyone except Shakiel Mahjouri has got Alistair Overeem beating Aleksei Oleinik in the main event. It’s a unanimous choice for Islam Makhachev over Arman Tsarukyan in the co-main. We had predictions lined up for Devin Clark vs. Ivan Shtyrkov, but now that fight is off.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik
Mookie Alexander: Oleinik doesn’t historically fit the bill of guys who trouble Alistair Overeem. I doubt he has the wrestling to really trouble Overeem and get him to play his game, and Overeem is unlikely to get himself into spots where Oleinik can unleash his weird-ass chokes. On the feet, outside of Oleinik sparing us 15 minutes of Jared Rosholt by getting a stunningly quick KO, it’s a clear advantage for Alistair. I’m pretty sure Overeem will have enough in the tank to get the W here. Alistair Overeem by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: The thing with Oliynyk, at this point in his career, whether you think he’s going to win or not, he’s almost always losing whatever fight he’s in, right up until the finish. He’s got some surprising power in his hands, but isn’t much of a KO threat at heavyweight, and Overeem hasn’t been submitted in more than a decade. I can’t pick Oliynyk to win on points, so unless he snatches up another miracle (and he definitely could), Alistair Overeem via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Overeem: Nick, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Staff picking Oleinik: Shak
Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan
Mookie Alexander: This is one of the most random co-main events the UFC has booked in a long time. Makhachev doesn’t get an established top-15 fighter as should probably be the case by now, but instead a newcomer in Tsarukyan who’s developed into a well-rounded talent who just knocked out UFC veteran Felipe Olivieri by head kick. Tsarukyan might give Makhachev a harder time than expected when it comes to the wrestling and grappling battles that we’re likely to see, but I still feel Makhachev is going to be too much for him down the stretch. Islam Makhachev by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: We could be in for a fight where a young, hyper-athletic prospect is just that bit better at wrestling than expected and is able to shock the comparative UFC veteran by just wearing him out, a Naurdiev-Prazeres type thing. Tsarukyan has fought decent competition, is physically impressive everywhere, and Makhachev has been gotten to before. However, Makhachev’s level of wrestling is just one that I can’t pick against. Islam Makhachev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: A hell of a testing fight for Tsarukyan, who just may be talented enough to win it. But, ‘may be’ and ‘definitely is’ are two different things. Tsarukyan has power, decent technique on his strikes, dynamic wrestling, and apparently decent cardio. But, wrestling is very much a cornerstone of his offense. And it seems very unlikely that he’s a better wrestler than Islam Makhachev. If he is, or if he can just catch him cold, early in the fight. Tsarukyan could get a huge win. If not? Islam Makhachev by decision.
Staff picking Makhachev: Nick, Phil, Shak, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Staff picking Tsarukyan:
Marcelo Golm vs. Sergey Pavlovich
Mookie Alexander: Eek. Pavlovich got a rude awakening against Overeem that slows his roll as a HW prospect. Golm… isn’t good. Should be a victory for the former FNG standout. Sergey Pavlovich by TKO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Golm has really just not figured out a functional game at all. Pavlovich couldn’t compete with Overeem’s depth, but Golm is just looking like a mess. He’s perhaps the better pure athlete, but even then he’s had a tendency to gas horribly. Sergey Pavlovich by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Golm is too willing to give up initiative to win against well schooled, equally athletic competition. As long as he’s willing to back up and give Pavlovich whatever time and space he needs to set up his strikes and clinch entries, it’s really hard to pick Golm to get the win. Sergey Pavlovich by decision.
Staff picking Golm: Fraser
Staff picking Pavlovich: Nick, Mookie, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Phil, Harry
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Mookie Alexander: I pulled out the Zane Simon cheater hedgeTM for this one. I picked Shevchenko on the Level Change Podcast, but Roxy has a legitimate path to victory here. Shevchenko’s level of MMA competition hasn’t been the best (understandably so) and Modafferi has improved her skill set significantly under John Wood. Of course, if Roxy gets stuck at range or is in clinch striking exchanges then she will be outmatched. However, she will be the better grappler than Antonina, and we will get to see Shevchenko’s takedown defense really tested here. Should she get this to the ground I don’t think Shevchenko will be nearly as polished has her younger sister. So WAR ROXY! Roxanne Modafferi by armbar, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Man, it would be great if Roxy won this one. I don’t see how she closes distance, she’s a less fluid striker, and the athletic disparity is an absolute chasm. If she wins this it’s on pure heart, and no-one beats her there. Still, Antonina Shevchenko by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: She’ll have to fight a perfect fight, based on pressure, good shot wrestling, and cage grinding into takedown attempts. But, I’m willing to believe that Roxanne Modafferi can do it. She can look at her fight with Andrea Lee as something of a potential blueprint to follow. Besides, she’s BE family, and there’s absolutely no way I’m picking against her, even if it’s going to be a tough fight. Roxanne Modafferi via TKO, GnP, Round 3.
Staff picking Modafferi: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Shevchenko: Nick, Phil, Shak, Fraser, Tim, Harry
Alen Amedovski vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Mookie Alexander: This is a dangerous fight for Jotko. His durability has to be considered a major question mark and Amedovski is a knockout specialist. Granted, Amedovski hasn’t fought the greatest of opposition in the regional scene and in Bellator, so I’d like to think Jotko can control the action and pick up the W here. If he can’t? Then he’s going to be in trouble given Amedovski’s power. Ultimately, I see Jotko being too well-rounded and he’ll take a rather unexciting decision. Krzysztof Jotko by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Rough times for Jotko, who was once a dark horse MW contender and is now riding a three fight losing streak and looking at a potential pink slip. Getting knocked out by Uriah Hall, sure, yes, fine. Getting knocked out by Brad Tavares? More of a concern. As the Mook said, if he doesn’t get knocked out then Jotko still appears to have major clinch grappling and top position advantages. Krzystof Jotko by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Amedovski almost definitely isn’t well rounded enough to win a decision if he can’t get Jotko out of there in a hurry. But he also looks like he has the power and precision punching to get Jotko out of there in a hurry if Jotko isn’t paying attention right out of the gate. Still even in his KO losses, they’ve come later in fights, when Jotko has either been thoroughly picked apart or gassed himself going for the win. I don’t think Amedovski has the game to come back if Jotko starts taking him down and working him over from top control. Krzysztof Jotko via submission round 2.
Staff picking Amedovski: Dayne
Staff picking Jotko: Nick, Phil, Shak, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Movsar Evloev vs. Seungwoo Choi
Phil Mackenzie: Evloev has a deep level of regional experience. He’s an adept wrestler and grappler, is a comfortable, aggressive striker and retains his power deep enough to knock people out deep in 5 round fights. Yet another phenomenal BW prospect, basically. Choi is your standard-issue huge nutty South Korean who will brawl his way out of every position and use flying knees as takedown defense etc. Movsar Evloev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Evloev does enter the pocket behind big strikes with his head on line, and has been caught a few times doing it. But he appears to have a great chin, and Seung-Woo isn’t a consistent counter striker to make me feel like he can keep Evloev’s constant pressure off him. Otherwise, Evloev is a smotheringly aggressive wrestler and grappler and pressure striker. He’ll give up positions going for offense on the ground, but is talented enough to always fight his way out of them without taking too much damage. Unless Seung-Woo finds just the perfect shot to turn out the lights this should be Movsar Evloev by decision.
Staff picking Evloev: Nick, Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Staff picking Choi:
Sultan Aliev vs. Keita Nakamura
Phil Mackenzie: This could be awful. Aliev has never really dealt well with aggression, going all the way back to his (admittedly something of a robbery) loss to Doug Marshall. Nakamura is getting old in the tooth but he’s a crafty puncher and Aliev’s grappling game is not deep or overwhelming enough to insulate him. Keita Nakamura by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Two low-output veteran fighters who have some sneaky skill sets that can stall out or catch opponents off guard. For Aliev it’s his absurd physical strength and one-shot power, and for Nakamura, it’s his surprisingly composed counter striking and back takes. Eventually, though, given Nakamura’s great durability it feels like he’s got a lot more ways to catch Aliev as the fight goes on. He also reacts better to getting hit. Still, Aliev is good at stalling out and slowing down bouts, so this one definitely feels like it could head for a close split decision. Keita Nakamura by decision.
Staff picking Aliev: Fraser
Staff picking Nakamura: Nick, Mookie, Phil, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Alex Da Silva vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Phil Mackenzie: Da Silva is the far more interesting fighter, but he’s a funky Brazilian brawler who looks for big bursts of offense and is far too comfortable playing guard. Yakovlev is extraordinarily tough everywhere, and down at 155 was a capable enough wrestler to easily outgrapple Gray Maynard. Alexander Yakovlev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: With so much time on the shelf, there’s a very good chance that Yakovlev comes out and just gets smoked by an aggressive power striker in ‘Leko.’ However, Yakovlev has been fantastically durable over his MMA career, and most of the fighters who have beat him have been better athletes who were also at least equivalent wrestlers and better grapplers. Da Silva is a willing grappler off his back, but it seems like a strategy that puts him in much more trouble than it gives him ways to win. Don’t be surprised if Yakovlev goes through some really bad spots in this fight, but sooner or later I think he gets Da Silva down and makes him pay for being willing to play guard. Alexander Yakovlev by decision.
Staff picking da Silva: Mookie, Harry
Staff picking Yakovlev: Nick, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Marcin Tybura
Mookie Alexander: Absolutely hell no. Marcin Tybura by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: D’gah. One notable thing which might make this tough for Tybura is that he leans heavily on his kicks and Abdurakhimov is actually pretty excellent at turning caught kicks into takedowns. Still, I reiterate: d’gah. Marcin Tybura by split decision.
Zane Simon: This one is gonna be ugly. Abdurakhimov can be a good offensive striker and counter puncher, he can be a good wrestler. But he’s also equally defensively open in all these places, and very willing to just drift out of a fight through inactivity. Tybura is a bit predictable in his standup and often just walks into range on straight lines behind kicks, but he’s a consistently aggressive fighter, and a good back take artist and he’s tough as hell. Gotta ride with consistency here. Marcin Tybura via decision.
Staff picking Abdurakhimov: Tim
Staff picking Tybura: Nick, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Harry
Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Phil Mackenzie: This should be pretty fun. Abtigulov will bumrush Oleksiejczuk looking to bundle him into a sub, and the Pole will try to pick him off. I like Oleksiejczuk’s composure and surprisingly functional, thoughtful game, but he could well just get light heavyweighted. Michael Oleksiejczuk by TKO, round 3
Zane Simon: An absolute two true outcome fight. Either Antigulov swarms out of the gate, gets the takedown, and gets the instant submission ... or he flubs it, gasses horribly, and gets picked apart by the tough as hell, high paced Oleksiejczuk. Both feel very likely, but I’m going to go with Antigulov here. His mix of power and athleticism and grappling seem like poison for the undersized Oleksiejczuk, who has so far gotten away with out-hustling LHWs that want to stand and trade with him. Gadzhimurad Antigulov by submission, round 1.
Staff picking Antigulov: Tim, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Oleksiejczuk: Nick, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Harry
Rafael Fiziev vs. Magomed Mustafaev
Phil Mackenzie: Honestly one of the most exciting fights on the card. Mustafaev is just pure athletic aggression, and Fisiev is a quality and exceptionally violent striker with a knack for the clinch, somewhere between Yan and a Teymur brother. Rafael Fisiev by TKO, round 3
Zane Simon: I really want to pick Mustafaev here. He’s got more meaningful experience, he’s an absurdly athletic fighter, and he’s dangerous at all times in all places. But he’s also just not actually technical at anything? Or at least he wasn’t when he last fought three years ago. He’s been injured in the time since. Maybe he’s improved. Maybe he’s still a wildman, but with less dynamic explosiveness? EIther way, Fiziev is also a very good athlete and holds at least one very real technical advantage. If he can keep Mustafaev exchanging with him, I think he picks up the win. Rafael Fiziev via decision.
Staff picking Fiziev: Phil, Zane
Staff picking Mustafaev: Nick, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Dayne, Stephie, Harry