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The UFC will take its first ever visit to Russia on Saturday where Mark Hunt and Russia’s own Alexey Oleinik will face off in a heavyweight main event. The “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt (13-12-1, 1 NC) is obviously known for his knockout power. He is currently ranked eighth in the world and could put himself back into the mix with an impressive win over Oleinik in hostile territory. No. 11 Alexey Oleinik (56-11-1) is obviously a very experienced fighter but this will only be his eighth fight under the UFC banner. The decorated Sambo and Jiu-Jitsu athlete will look for yet another impressive submission against the decorated striker, Mark Hunt.
How hard will Hunt charge?
We expect Mark Hunt to come out pretty quick in this one. The former K-1 and PRIDE legend has become famous for his brutal walk-off knockouts. In a matchup like this one that is a mismatch on the ground, Hunt will look to land the big shot and get out of their early. Oleinik can be very sloppy on the feet and that is a death sentence against the “Super Samoan.” As a stocky, compact fighter, Hunt is not easy to take down but we saw Curtis Blaydes do it with ease earlier this year. If Hunt can stay on the feet, his chances of winning skyrocket.
We last saw Hunt in the octagon when he lost that unanimous decision to Curtis Blaydes. Hunt was taken down 10 times, and had his guard passed by Blaydes all 10 on all 10 of those takedowns. If Mark Hunt comes into this fight with a lazy guard against a fourth-degree black belt in Oleinik, he will be submitted.
Of course, when Mark Hunt is in the cage, he can always end a fight in an instant. His last six consecutive victories are all knockouts, including big names like Derrick Lewis, Frank Mir, and Roy Nelson. Hunt is almost always the shorter fighter so we should not doubt his ability to close the distance in striking exchanges. If Oleinik swings with his chin up like we have seen in the past, we could get a classic Hunt finish but his top priority must be staying off the mat.
Oleinik looks for another spectacular sub
Alexey Oleinik is the only fighter in UFC history to finish a fight by Ezekiel choke. In fact, he has done so twice in his four UFC fights. In his career, Oleinik has picked up a record 12 MMA wins with the choke. Overall, the fourth-degree black belt and Sambo Master has 46 submissions on his MMA record including subs of Travis Browne, Mirko Cro Cop, and Junior Albini. On Saturday, he will be in the cage with a purple belt, Mark Hunt, whose guard we have seen get passed with relative ease. If Oleinik can get this fight to the canvass, he could blow through Hunt.
That fight against Junior Albini was a huge indicator of how dangerous Alexey Oleinik is on the ground. Albini had him in full mount, quite literally the most dominant position Albini could have been in, and Oleinik sneakily locked on the Ezekiel choke to finish the fight. That kind of confidence from the bottom gives Oleinik the option of pulling guard and looking for a sub from the bottom.
When Oleinik goes for his takedowns or tries to pull guard, he must go in with his hands up. To be frank, some of his striking exchanges in the past have been scary. He constantly gets clipped which in the presence of Mark Hunt is a certain fight ender. With that being said, if this one does go to the ground, it might look a bit like a hot knife through butter.
Both fighters need to close the distance for different reasons. Hunt needs to get within range to land a bomb and Oleinik needs to bring the fight to the ground. In a five round fight, neither fighter should be in enough of a rush that they make a mistake moving forward. If Hunt makes a mistake, he will be in a choke within seconds. If Oleinik rushes in with his hands down he will wake up staring at the ceiling. For those reasons do not be surprised if the first couple rounds are pretty slow.
Unless Hunt can end this fight fast with one quick punch, it is likely that it will go to the ground at some point. Curtis Blaydes showed what can happen if Hunt is pressured by a wrestler. Oleinik is more than a high level jiu-jitsu practitioner, he is a Sambo Master as well. That means he has ways to take Hunt down and keep him there. If he can pass his guard with the same ease Blaydes did, this fight will be over the second it hits the mat.
Alexey Oleinik +150
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