UFC Fight Night 149, this Saturday, April 20, will mark the UFC’s second event in Russia and first in Saint Petersburg at the Yubileyny Sports Palace.
The main event will feature a heavyweight bout between former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik. Overeem and Oleinik have a combined total of 131 fights to their name.
Overeem was initially scheduled to fight former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov; however, he was pulled from the card due to reported health issues.
UFC Fight Night 149 Fight Card
Main Card (1 p.m. EST on ESPN+)
- Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik
- Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan
- Sergei Pavlovich vs. Marcelo Golm
- Ivan Shtyrkov vs. Devin Clark
- Roxanne Modafferi vs. Antonina Shevchenko
- Krzysztof Jotko vs. Alen Amedovski
Preliminary Card (10 a.m. EST on ESPN+)
- Movsar Evloev vs. Seung Woo Choi
- Sultan Aliev vs. Keita Nakamura
- Alexander Yakovlev vs. Alex da Silva
- Marcin Tybura vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov
- Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk
- Magomed Mustafaev vs. Rafael Fiziev
UFC Fight Night 149 Preview
Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik
With Alistair Overeem’s recent move to Team Elevation in Colorado and a decisive win over Sergey Pavlovich in November 2018, he seems poised for another title run. The question is how will this fight with Alexey Oleinik get him there?
There was a clearer line in his originally scheduled fight against Alexander Volkov. Beat Volkov, beat Derrick Lewis, then maybe a title shot if both victories are as decisive as Pavlovich. Oleinik is a bit less certain. While he is on a two-fight win streak, he’s still sitting at #9 in the division.
It’s going to be a different sort of challenge for Overeem than Volkov. Oleinik, a combat Sambo and jiu-jitsu fighter, will likely be looking to bring this to the ground. Overeem, a former K-1 Grand Prix kickboxing champion would have been happy to stand and exchange with Volkov.
As a seasoned veteran, with wins over ground specialists like Fabricio Werdum, it’s certainly possible that he will be able to keep this a striking battle. If he can, then the past is in his favor. Oleinik hasn’t won a fight without a submission victory since 2016.
Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan
This fight seems forged from a need by the UFC to keep the card regionally relevant. However, the reality is Arman Tsarukyan is no tin can for Islam Makhachev. The 22-year-old Armenian lightweight has a 13-1 record, with wins over former UFC fighters Felipe Olivieri, Junior Assuncao, and Takenori Sato. Similar, to Makhachev, Tsarukyan has a strong foundation in wrestling but has been able to mix a creative approach to striking, which has resulted in a head kick KO, and TKO by way of a spinning back kick.
In his last fight, before sending Olivieri’s head to the moon, he easily scored three huge takedowns, in the classic mauling form expected from Russian fighters.
The reality is Tsarukyan is not your pure rookie who enters the UFC after an impressive win in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, like many who are coming through the system these days. Instead, Tsarukyan is an experienced, skilled fighter with similar abilities to Makhachev and comes with huge deficits to his name: he’s never fought in the UFC, is relatively unknown to fans, and is beyond unranked among the lightweight contenders.
A win over him does nothing for Makhachev’s movement in the division; nor does it do anything to improve his development as a name in the sport. At the same time, it’s a loss that could arrest his entire career.
Antonina Shevchenko vs. Roxanne Modafferi
Antonina Shevchenko, the older sister of UFC women’s featherweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, is making her official debut in this bout against veteran fighter Roxanne Modafferi. Antonina started her MMA career back in 2002 but took a 12-year hiatus in 2005. During this time, she dominated in the Muay Thai and kickboxing circuit, finishing with a record of 39-1-0.
As Antonina was making waves in kickboxing, Roxanne has continually been a contender in MMA, with title fights in Strikeforce and Invicta FC. She’s a well-rounded and tough fighter, having only been KO’d once in her career by Sarah Kaufman back in 2010. Roxanne is coming off a loss against Sijara Eubanks.
This fight could set the direction for Antonina in a division already ruled by her sister. Meanwhile, this could be another shot for Roxanne to make another run for a title.
Ahmad Tahriri is a Contributing Writer at The Body Lock.