Heavyweights collide at UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Sakai at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday, September 6 at 10am AEST.
Here are our best bets and predictions for the UFC Heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai.
Alistair Overeem vs Augusto Sakai
It has been the perfect start for 29-year-old Augusto Sakai (15-1-1) since joining the UFC two years ago. He started with a second-round knockout of Marcos Conrado on Dana White’s Contender Series to land him a contract with the UFC.
His debut didn’t exactly go to plan as he suffered a broken right hand, but he was still victorious with a TKO of Chase Sherman in the third round.
His next win came over former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski via a controversial split decision. Many MMA fans penned the fight 30-27 or 29-28 for Arlovski. There would be nothing controversial about his next victory with a 59-second knockout of Marcin Tybura.
At his latest fight, Sakai defeated Blagoy Ivanov via split decision to land a top 10 spot in the Heavyweight rankings. A victory over an all-time great on Sunday could propel him into the top five and be within reach of getting a shot at champion Stipe Miocic with another win or two.
Alistair Overeem (46-18, 1NC) continues an incredible MMA career that dates back to 1999. The London-born Dutchman has fought a who’s who of fighters for the best part of 20 years; he has held kickboxing and MMA crowns around the world, but the UFC Heavyweight Championship has eluded ‘The Reem.’
The 40-year-old has had just one chance to win the title. Unfortunately for Overeem, it ended in a first-round knockout at the hands of Miocic in 2016. That loss is one of four from his past nine fights. While it seems fair to say his best days are behind him, Overeem is still one of the main fighters in the division because he always seems to bounce back.
In May, Overeem was able to finish Walt Harris in the second round and is 3-1 in his last four fights. Each victory was via TKO, which is why he is ranked sixth in the division. He could have been a perfect 4-0 in that time before Jairzinho Rozenstruik landed a heavy shot that split Overeem’s lip wide open with less than 10 seconds to go in the fight. Overeem was heading towards victory before the late TKO loss in that bout.
Sakai is on a hot streak with six-straight wins, but there are convictions. Firstly, he didn’t deserve the win over Arlovski and was hardly convincing over Ivanov. With those queries, it is hard to se him getting the better of Overeem.
‘The Reem’ may not be the fighter he once was. He can be knocked out; 14 losses via knockout can attest to that claim. He is a more well-rounded fighter than Sakai and can still knock opponents out. Overeem has won 24 fights via knockout and 17 via submission. In recent years, he is more calculated with his striking, and he will look to use his experience in this fight to outpoint Sakai.
It looks likely that Overeem will stop Sakai with either strikes or via submission. Only five of his wins have gone the distance and Sakai doesn’t look like he will be able to match Overeem.