Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik will clash TONIGHT (Aug. 8, 2020) at UFC Vegas 6 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lewis is a man who keeps things pretty simple. He shows up to fight more often than most of his peers, never stops trying to win, and hits pretty damn hard. It doesn’t always work, but Lewis is a staple of the top five and en route to his second title shot, so who are we to judge? Alternatively, Oleinik continues to prove that age is nonsense. The 43-year-old submission master is once again riding a winning streak, and his most recent victory opposite Fabricio Werdum may go down as the best in his 24-year professional career! “Boa Constrictor” just keeps going, and one has to respect it.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Alexander Volkov (UFC 229), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 244), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 102)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 230), Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 146), Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 110), Shawn Jordan (UFC Fight Night 68)
Keys to Victory: Lewis throws bombs. “The Black Beast” has a pair of fairly unique abilities that separate him from the pack of other big men who throw bricks: he is difficult to control on the mat, and Lewis maintains his power well past the point of exhaustion.
Against Oleinik, starting fast and trying to knock his foe out immediately just seems like the best move. Oleinik is not quick. He does not have the foot speed to really avoid a Lewis burst or jumping switch kick. He will be there to be hit, and generally, people say goodbye when Lewis touches them cleanly.
Letting Oleinik lead the dance offers no benefits to Lewis. He’s no counter puncher, and getting taken down by the Ukranian could actually have consequences! Instead, Lewis should make the most of his significant size advantage by bull-rushing the veteran grappler with heavy shots.
Obviously, Lewis should do his best to mix an uppercut or body shot into his assault to make the takedown a bit less appealing, but really, Oleinik is not known for his blast double. If Lewis charges, he likely covers up, and that’s great news for “The Black Beast.”
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 249), Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 136), Travis Browne (UFC 213), Jared Rosholt (UFC Fight Night 57)
Key Losses: Alistair Overeem (UFC Fight Night 149), Walt Harris (UFC on ESPN 4), Curtis Blaydes (UFC 217), Daniel Omielanczuk (UFC Fight Night 91)
Keys to Victory: Oleinik’s relative surge of success hasn’t been a result of any real major change. He appears to show up a bit leaner — which is great! — but “Boa Constrictor” still swarms opponents with big swings, shoots or clinches whenever possible, and is a genuine master on the mat.
Though for different reasons — and not solely a personal desire for this fight to end quickly — my theoretical strategy for Oleinik is the same as above: start quickly! Oleinik does not want to spend a second more than is necessary hanging out at range with Lewis, where a sudden right hand or jumping kick could end his night.
Putting Lewis on his back foot is the right move. It may involve throwing himself into the danger zone, but when has that ever caused Oleinik to hesitate? Lewis is less dangerous when pressed, so going on the offensive may provide Oleinik a certain level of safety (if such a thing exists in MMA).
At any rate, Oleinik doesn’t have to be safe for long. He just needs a takedown, because Oleinik is better suited than almost anyone else to actually submit Lewis. He has the squeeze and the mastery of crushing big men to actually punish Lewis’ “Just Stand Up” strategy.
And, should Lewis’ stand ups prove effective against even Oleinik, well ... this fight isn’t likely to go well, but swinging aggressively at least gives him a shot.
It’s a Heavyweight clash of styles!
Truthfully, neither an Oleinik nor Lewis title shot seem all that likely. They both have lost to several of the fighters ranked ahead of them in dominant fashion, which tends to really hamper title runs. Lewis has a better shot between the two, simply because he fights often enough to rebuild win streaks quickly and get back in contention.
If there’s an injury in the future or some other weirdness, Lewis being in the win column could prove enough for a second shot.
For the defeated man, it’s hard to say much really changes. The two veterans have accumulated a fair amount of losses over the years, but they’re still ranked inside the top 10. Until they lose to someone young up-and-comer, that’s unlikely to change, and that description does not at all fit either contender.
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At UFC Vegas 6, Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik will go to war in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?