The UFC Fight Night returns to the Apex Facility in Las Vegas Saturday. Fans will be treated to main events in the heavyweight and middleweight divisions.
The betting lines are set so make sure to check them out. Let’s take a look at the headliners.
UFC Fight Night Derrick Lewis (23-7-0) vs Aleksei Oleinik (59-13-1)
Betting Line: Lewis (-220), Oleinik (+175)
Derrick Lewis meets Aleksei Oleinik in a bout between experienced fighters with different fighting styles. Lewis is known for his knockouts while Oleinik is a submission master.
An interesting statistic is out of a combined 104 professional fights, these heavyweights have only gone to decision 16 times. This means it’s unlikely that the judges will have to decide the victor.
A close look at how these two compare:
The favorite is Lewis who is currently ranked No. 4 in the UFC heavyweight rankings. At first glance, his physical stats are similar to Oleinik, except for one glaring difference: Lewis outweighs his opponent by 35 pounds. They have almost identical reaches and significant strike accuracy.
Where they begin to differ greatly is in their fighting styles. Lewis trained under George Foreman as a boxer early on, which explains his propensity to hit and not wrestle. Out of 23 UFC victories, 18 have come by KO.
Both are relatively old for MMA fighters. Lewis is 35; Oleinik is 43 and has been fighting professionally since 1997. He has been fighting professionally longer than some UFC fighters have been alive. He comes into the fight ranked No. 10.
Both come into the bout with two wins in a row. Lewis has fought once in 2020 against Ilir Latifi, a decision victory, so he might be a little rusty.
Oleinik has fought twice in 2020, against Fabricio Werdum and Maurice Greene. He beat Werdum by decision and defeated Greene by submission.
UFC Fight Night Matchup
It will be interesting to see how these two match up in the Octagon. Oleinik is going to have to get in close to this powerful striker in order to wrap his limbs around him, which is going to be a tall order. He’ll take some punishment in the process. Lewis is a massive human, so Oleinik will have his work cut out trying to score victory via grappling and submission.
There are a couple of enticing pieces of information that could influence this fight.
First, Lewis claimed in April he wouldn’t fight during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brings into question what his training regimen has been. Lewis also told ESPN last year that he was struggling with a serious medical condition, but has not elaborated. He won in February so maybe it’s a non-issue, but we just don’t know.
UFC Fight Night Omari Akhmedov (20-4-1) vs Chris Weidman (14-5-0)
Betting Line: Akhmedov (+105), Weidman (-135)
The co-main will be between Dagestani fighter Akhmedov and former UFC Middleweight Champion Weidman.
Weidman, 36, has lost five of his last six fights. Despite this sour stretch, Weidman seems confident.
“I need to get a freaking ‘W.’ I need to get back my winning ways,” he told MMA Fighting recently. “I think I have a lot of advantages in this fight but when you’re in there, you never know what’s going to happen.”
As far as stats, Weidman has a two-inch height advantage and five-inch reach advantage. He has a higher significant strike rate per minute and is also nearly 10% more accurate with his kicks and punches.
They are even when it comes to grappling, with each boasting a 50% takedown average. On paper, Weidman seems like the favored fighter but you can’t ignore the recent past.
Akhmedov hasn’t lost since 2016. He has been hovering outside a top 10 ranking, and a win against Weidman could get him there.
It’s going to be a close fight that could end up with the judges.
Weidman has a more illustrious career and has defeated elite fighters, unlike his opponent. Akhmedov is hungry to prove that he belongs with the best fighters and has the winning streak to back that.
Despite the odds calling Weidman as the fight favorite, betting on Akhmedov could be the smart move.