The UFC is heading to Russia for the first time ever this weekend for UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs Oleinik. This is a big step for the promotion and some people are saying this is being used as somewhat of a test event before possibly putting a Khabib Nurmagomedov pay-per-view event in the country.
The fight card is decent with plenty of high quality Russian fighters on the card. The Mark Hunt vs Aleksei Oleinik main event is sure to be an action packed barn burner that won’t leave the first few rounds. Nikita Krylov is also back in the UFC and will fight Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event. These are the two fights that I’ve given my picks for below.
The card takes place on Saturday morning/afternoon here in Canada with the early prelims beginning at 10:30am on Fight Pass and the main card being shown on the Fight Network starting at 2pm EST.
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Aleksei Oleinik vs Mark Hunt
This is going to be a fun fight. Oleinik comes at you with everything he’s got and he has some slick submissions if this fight gets to the mat or in any awkward grappling positions. It’s hard to take Hunt’s neck because it’s almost non-existant, but if anyone is going to choke out Hunt on the mat it’s Oleinik.
Hunt definitely has the ability to KO Oleinik early in this one, but I actually expect Oleinik to apply the pressure and put Hunt on the back foot. Hunt could still counter for the KO, but I think it’s more likely Oleinik hurts him or takes him down and goes to work on the mat.
Oleinik continues to surprise in the UFC. He was an underdog in his wins over Junior Albini, Travis Browne and Jared Rosholt, while the fights with Pesta and Hamilton were basically pick’ems. Oleinik has a very tricky style to plan for and I’m not convinced Hunt’s stalking KO style will work in this one.
I’m on Oleinik to get the upset in front of his home fans and to add another interesting submission over a big name to his resume.
Play: Oleinik 2.85 @ SportsInteraction.com
Jan Blachowicz vs Nikita Krylov
Nikita Krylov is back in the UFC after four fights outside of the promotion. Krylov was on a roll in the UFC having won 5 straight fights before losing to Misha Cirkunov by a quick submission back in December of 2016. And just like that Krylov was not offered a new contract and he took his talents to Fight Nights Global in Russia. He got back on a roll with 4 quick finishes in his four fights outside of the organization and I guess the UFC decided they needed him back on the roster for this venture into Russia.
Krylov is one of the most dangerous finishers in the light heavyweight division. He’s never been to a decision in his 24-5 career. That’s ridiculous. The guy has knockout power in his hands, the ability to knock people out with head kicks, and some slick submissions for a big man. He does have holes in his game though and is especially susceptible to submissions from other top grapplers (Cirkunov and OSP come to mind). That said, this is a great matchup for him because Blachowicz is not a finisher.
Blachowicz is on a nice three fight winning streak of his own, including two imnpressive wins over Jared Cannonier and Jimi Manuwa, two high ranked fighters in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. That said, Blachowicz almost always goes to decision. He beat both the two fighters I just mentioned via grinding decisions and only has 2 finishes in his last 9 wins. On the flip side, Blachowicz usually doesn’t get finished either, with his 4 most recent UFC losses coming via decision as well.
Krylov is an explosive and dangerous fighter who takes risks to get finishes. I think he will find a way to clip Blachowicz with something or find his neck with a choke. Krylov is at home and will be looking to make an impression in his return to the UFC. I believe he will do just that.
Play: Krylov 1.91 @ Bet365.com