UFC on ESPN+ 34 or as some call it, UFC Fight Night 176 features the bout between Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai as its headliner. The first is the legend and the veteran of this sport, with numerous spectacles behind him. The other, a rising force in the heavyweight category, and the one who might become a UFC star pretty soon. This is his first step towards that.
The “Demolition Man” (46-18-1) keeps coming back after defeats and he isn’t going to stop, no matter what happens. The Dutch fighter has a plan to win the UFC title, and as you all see he doesn’t take no as an answer.
Following his losses to Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes, one after another in late 2017 and 2018, many believed that his UFC career would soon be over. However, wins against Sergei Pavlovich and Alexey Oleynik earned him the fight for the title-eliminator against Ngannou, which he lost in the last moments of the final round against Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Overeem was constantly behind, gaining a big lead on the scorecards, but just a few seconds before the end, one desperate punch from Rozenstruik’s side tore his lip and his hopes for a rematch against Ngannou.
Then again, Overeem came back, knocked out Walt Harris, and earned another main event, and another chance to put his name in the top of the contenders’ list.
Meanwhile, Sakai (15-1-1) is a new guy, with just 29 years, and a pretty solid biography. We can’t say that the Japanese-Brazilian had some stellar opponents behind him, but on the other side, wins over Andrei Arlovski, the former champion and Blagoy Ivanov did boost his stocks.
Yet, both of those fights ended after split decisions, and this last one against Ivanov was a bit controversial per many experts who claimed that Sakai shouldn’t have won. The reason for that is the fact that he used the fence for grabbing in a moment once he would’ve fallen down, with the judge overseeing that action.
Sakai is a hard striker, with 11 of his 15 fights so far coming following a knockout and just four after a decision. Pretty much the stand-up battle is his best area, but he isn’t bad in other situations too. Still, this is far from some notable level for which we might say that is excellent.
Sakai is on the rise, but we need to be realistic here and give Overeem a massive advantage. That loss against Rozenstruik should have never happened, and we all know that. It was just an unlucky turn of events. Overeem proved that against Harris, against whom he escaped death, showing that he still has what it takes to eat a few very powerful punches and then to respond and solve the match. All this while looking petty smashed up.
The younger rival here has a lot to learn before reaching a more famous opponent. Wins against Arlovski and Ivanov were both controversial, and many believe that the judges made massive mistakes, some of them on purpose wanting to introduce a new face on the UFC scene.
In this case, there won’t be any controversy here, as we firmly believe in Overeem’s win. The Dutchman regained his morale against Harris and his status too, meaning that if he wins this event, he could easily be in the talks for another title challenge. BetXChange offers 0.57 on his win this Saturday.