Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business today (Sat., April 20, 2019) as UFC Fight Night 149 (UFC on ESPN+ 7) airs live on ESPN+ from inside Yubileyny Sports Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The event will be headlined by a Heavyweight tilt between Alistair Overeem taking on hometown favorite Aleksei Oleinik.
Alistair Overeem has promised to bring with him a more aggressive fighting style when he takes on his old friend Aleksei Oleinik. That’s because “The Reem” is confident he is better than the Ukrainian big man in every area, though he is quick to admit Oleinik, who has an abundance of submission wins to his credit, has a pretty “decent” ground game. If Alistair stays true to his word, we could be in a for a quick finish, as he has vowed to put way the longtime veteran.
The fact that the two big men used to train together gives “The Reem” the confidence to make that bold prediction since he pretty much knows what he brings to the table. Doing it, though, is easier said than done as Oleinik is as tough as they come. And if the fight goes to the ground, Alistair, who has only been submitted once in his entire 20-year career, could have a rough night. This fight is a tossup for me.
The card is severely lacking, and the fact that it goes down so early Stateside may not be the ratings hit that UFC or ESPN want. Seriously, it seems there wasn’t a ton of effort put into this event. Still, it will be favorable to the Russian crowd as the event will feature a lot of homegrown talent.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Alistair Overeem was originally set to face Alexander Volkov in the headlining bout before an injury left the big man out of commission. That’s when Aleksei Oleinik stepped up to the plate to fill the void. Emil Weber Meek was in line to face Sultan Aliev, but was forced out with an injury. Aliev will now face Keita Nakamura.
Aside from Alexander Volkov and Weber Meek getting struck down by the injury bug, Roman Kopylov was forced out of his bout against Krzysztof Jotko. Teemu Packalen, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, who were set to fight Alexander Yakovlev and Devin Clark, were both removed from the card due to undisclosed reasons. Ivan Shtyrkov was set to make his debut against Devin Clark but was forced out of the fight one day prior to fight night due to an illness.
There will be plenty of “New Blood” making their UFC debuts this Saturday, including Arman Tsarukyan, who brings his 8-1 record into the Octagon to take part in the co-main event against Islam Makhachev, who’s won four in a row inside the Octagon in an extremely competitive Lightweight division.
Alen Amedovski will bring his undefeated record (8-0) to the UFC cage on one month’s notice to face off against longtime UFC veteran Krzysztof Jotko who has dropped three in a row. Movsar Evloev is another undefeated (10-0) prospect who looks to shine in his Octagon debut. The Featherweight star has seven stoppage wins to his credit and is a welcome addition to the 145-pound division. He will be facing another UFC newcomer in Seung Woo Choi, who will be competing in his first fight since 2017. Both men like to bang it out on the feet, so it should be an interesting scrap for the newbies.
Alex da Silva will make his Octagon debut after winning 20 of 21 bouts. In a sense he will be welcoming his foe to the cage, as well, as Alexander Yakovlev hasn’t stepped foot inside the Octagon in 2.5 years.
To get a better look at all of the UFC newcomers, check out our very own Patrick L. Stumberg’s “New Blood” piece.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
With several newcomers stepping into the fold, the underbelly of the event won’t feature big UFC names that are used to filling out the “Prelims” portion of the event. Case in point, the headlining bout of the undercard will be Movsar Evloev vs. Seung Woo Choi. One of the better known names, Marcin Tybura, will face off against Shamil Abdurakhimov, who is 4-2 inside the Octagon, in early action as well.
Opening the underbelly of the card is a fight between Magomed Mustafaev taking on Rafael Fiziev. Magomed will look to start a new win streak after having his run of 13-straight wins snapped in his previous outing by Kevin Lee way back in 2016. This will be Magomed’s first fight since then due to injury.
To get a better look at the UFC Fight Night 149 “Prelims” click here and here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Krzystof Jotko has lost three in a row to David Branch, Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. While those are three tough foes, a loss is a loss and if Jotko drops his fourth in a row, there is no telling if UFC will keep him around further than that. Looking to hand him his fourth loss in a row is Alen Amedovski, who is making his Octagon debut. Where it went wrong for Krzystof is unknown, as he won six of his first seven UFC bouts.
Interest Level: 5/10
Again, this event doesn’t do much for me personally. Hey, they can’t all be home-runs, right? Even the main event is borderline for me. That said, it will be interesting to see whether or not Overeem can string together back-to-back wins for the first time since 2017. The interesting thing about this fight is that the two big men are very fond of each other and have shared a training room together in the past. While I highly doubt the two men will be hesitant to swing and go for it due to their friendship, I’m anxious to see how it will all unfold once the opening buzzer rings.
Another interesting matchup is one pitting Antonina Shevchenko against Roxanne Modafferi. Younger sister of UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina is undefeated at 7-0, making good on her Octagon debut in November of 2018.
While it isn’t the most stacked event UFC has ever put together, you never know just what kind of action will unfold in St. Petersburg, as there are several newcomers who are looking to make a name for themselves, which could lead to some rather interesting outcomes. As we’ve seen in the past, events that don’t carry a lot of buzz sometimes make for an interesting night of fights.
Full UFC Fight Night 149 Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 149 (ESPN+ 7) Main Event:
265 lbs.: Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik
UFC Fight Night 149 (ESPN+ 7) Main Card (1 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan
265 lbs.: Marcelo Golm vs. Sergei Pavlovich
Devin Clark vs Ivan Shtyrkov CANCELLED (DETAILS HERE).
125 lbs.: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Antonina Shevchenko
185 lbs.: Alen Amedovski vs. Krzysztof Jotko
UFC Fight Night 149 (ESPN+ 7) Prelims (10 a.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Movsar Evloev vs. Seung Woo Choi
170 lbs.: Sultan Aliev vs. Keita Nakamura
155 lbs.: Alex da Silva vs. Alexander Yakovlev
265 lbs.: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Marcin Tybura
205 lbs.: Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Magomed Mustafaev
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
For more upcoming UFC events click here.