HeavyweightsNR | Sergey Spivak (12-2, 3-2 UFC) vs. #15 HW | Alexey Oleynik (59-15-1, 8-6 UFC)
ODDS: Spivac (-225), Oleinik (+185)
The UFC has been quick to get rid of a lot of its old guard over the last year, so Oleynik could badly use a win. It is a minor miracle that Oleynik has managed to make it to his 15th fight inside the Octagon. He was already in his late 30s and about 60 fights deep into his pro career when the UFC picked him up in 2013, and he has a style so unorthodox that it could only work at heavyweight. “The Boa Constrictor” has built his game around little but swinging power punches and low-percentage chokes, which made it an entertaining oddity when he kicked off his UFC career with wins over Anthony Hamilton and Jared Rosholt. After missing all of 2015 due to multiple knee surgeries, a flat performance in a loss to Daniel Omielanczuk to kick off 2016 suggested that the good times were officially over for Oleynik. Instead, he put together enough wins to become viable as a UFC Fight Night headliner, though his approach clearly hit a wall against the Top 10 or so of the heavyweight division. Oleynik enjoyed a hot start to 2020, tapping out Maurice Greene and earning a surprising decision win over Fabricio Werdum, but he is now firmly in a cold streak after knockout losses to Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus. Given the UFC’s current roster philosophy, his spot in the promotion might be on the line against Spivak.
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Moldova’s Spivak showed some interesting tools during his regional career, mostly built around some effective and unorthodox throws, but a 50-second loss to Walt Harris in his UFC debut quickly dampened expectations for “The Polar Bear” going forward. Spivak has impressed in the two years since, including a surprising win over Tai Tuivasa to rebound from his loss to Harris. Spivak can still be physically overwhelmed, as he was by Marcin Tybura early last year, but he is quick to leverage any sort of grappling advantage and even got to show off some striking chops against the defensively void pressure of Carlos Felipe. Oleynik only has about a round of cardio at this point, so if this fight goes longer than a few minutes, this figures to look a lot like that Felipe bout, with Spivak even having some potential to send him careening off the rails into a knockout. With that said, the first round should be fascinating, given Oleynik’s willingness to clinch with his opponents and the fact that most of Spivak’s best tools come in the grappling and wrestling departments. No one knows whether or not Spivak can survive the early going, but Oleynik figures to at least get his type of fight to start. The pick is Oleynik via first-round submission.
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