The UFC makes its first visit to the nation of Russia on Saturday. This is the second breakthrough visit the UFC has made in the last two years as they made their debut in mainland China back in late 2017. This fight night has also taken a bit of a political turn as the connection between Dana White backed Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation has been front and center.
Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov (-140) Vs. Andrei Arlovski (+110)
Andrei Arlovski has had a tumultuous last few years. He previously held his training camp at Jackson/Wink in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but beginning in 2016, his performance in the octagon faltered drastically, Losing consecutive fights to Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Francis Ngannou and Marcin Tybura. Since his move to American Top Team, he has gone 2-1 with wins over Junior Albini and Stefan Struve. Andrei Arlovski lost a close decision to Australian upstart, Tai Tuivasa in his last visit to the octagon, but he showed that his age hasn’t hindered him as much as we previously thought. Shamil Abdurakhimov is also a veteran of the sport, he is 3-2 in the UFC and had a very good last visit to the cage as he knocked out Chase Sherman. I am picking Andrei Arlovski, but this one is a coin flip in my opinion. Andrei Arlovski Def. Shamil Abdurakhimov
Light Heavyweight: Jan Blachowicz (+105) Vs. Nikita Krylov (-135)
Jan Blachowicz picked up a huge win over Jimi Manuwa in his last visit to the octagon, and he seemed to re-invent himself over the last couple of battles. Other than Manuwa, Blachowicz picked up wins over Devin Clark and Jared Cannonier and looks to make his streak become four on Saturday. Nikita Krylov makes his long-awaited return to the UFC Banner on Saturday. Nikita Krylov left the UFC after taking a loss to Misha Cirkunov back at UFC 206 but he was no slouch during his stay with the UFC, going 6-3 in 9 professional bouts. Krylov landed at Fight Nights Global and racked off four impressive victories over top opponents including Emanuel Newton and Fabio Maldonado. The big story in this matchup is age as Blachowicz is 35 while Krylov is 26. Surprisingly, the amount of fight time is rather even, with both having exactly 29 fights. I expect Krylov to win by late stoppage. Nikita Krylov Def. Jan Blachowicz
Heavyweight: Aleksei Oleinik (+155) Vs. Mark Hunt (-190)
Oleinik Vs. Hunt is a fight in which you know exactly what the game plan is going to be for each. Mark Hunt will obviously try to stand and bang while Aleksei Oleinik will try to take him to the ground and submit him. In terms of momentum, I think that Oleinik is obviously on the up and up with five wins in his last seven fights and most recently, he defeated Junior Albini via his patented Ezekiel Choke. Mark Hunt has a respectable record in his most recent fights as well, however, he did lose in his last fight to Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221. Typically when the fight is so black and white as a Striker vs Grappler, I typically pick the grappler, and I’m gonna do the same here. Aleksei Oleinik will have home-field advantage in Moscow and Mark Hunt’s lesser ground game was heavily exposed in his fight vs Blaydes. Aleksei Oleinik Def. Mark Hunt
Two things to say
- Mark Hunt is absolutely right to be angry at the UFC brass for their actions regarding the Brock Lesnar situation. They knowingly had Hunt face a Roided out monster for PPV buys. Now, after being exposed for steroid use, he’s likely facing Daniel Cormier for the title, Where are the Standards.
- Can Aleksei Oleinik finally figure out a way to spell his name consistently Aleksei Oleinik, Oleksiy Oliynyk, Alexei Oleinik? Jesus Christ.
Welterweight: Alexey Kunchenko (-550) Def. Thiago Alves (+375)
Middleweight: Khalid Murtazaliev (-165) Def. CB Dollaway (+135)
Bantamweight: Petr Yan (-850) Def. Jin Soo Son (+525)
Lightweight: Rustam Khabilov (-700) Def. Kajan Johnson (+450)
Lightweight: Mairbek Taisumov (-500) Def. Desmond Green (+350)
Light Heavyweight: Marcin Prachnio (+325) Def. Magomed Ankalaev (-450)
Middleweight: Jordan Johnson (-250) Def Adam Yandiev (+195)
Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev (-550) Def. Stefan Sekulic (+375)
Bantamweight: Merab Dvalishvili (-550) Def. Terrion Ware (+375)