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Lack of predictability was always a mixed martial arts hallmark, and nowhere has that been better illustrated than in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division—a place where anything can happen and often does.
Former Dream, Strikeforce and K-1 World Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem will attempt to once again guard the gate to the elite when he toes the line against divisional upstart Augusto Sakai in the UFC Fight Night 176 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Overeem last competed at UFC on ESPN 8, where he rallied to stop sentimental favorite Walt Harris with second-round punches on May 16. Sakai, meanwhile, pushed his winning streak to six fights two weeks later, as he eked out split decision over onetime World Series of Fighting titleholder Blagoy Ivanov at UFC on ESPN 9.
As Overeem and Sakai approach their high-stakes showdown in Sin City, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
40: Years of age for Overeem, who was born in Hounslow, England, on May 17, 1980.
41: Overeem wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, accounting for a remarkable 89 percent of his career total (46).
8: Sub-minute finishes on the Overeem resume. “The Demolition Man” dismissed Yasuhito Namekawa with an armbar in 45 seconds on April 20, 2000, put away Stanislav Nuschik with knees in 53 seconds on March 18, 2001, cut down Yusuke Imamura with a knee strike and follow-up punches in 44 seconds on July 20, 2002, submitted Aaron Brink with a guillotine choke in 53 seconds on March 16, 2003, took out Tomohiko Hashimoto with knees in 36 seconds on Dec. 31, 2003, wiped out Tae Hyun Lee with punches in 36 seconds on June 15, 2008, disposed of James Thompson with a guillotine choke in 33 seconds on Oct. 25, 2009 and dispatched Todd Duffee with punches in 19 seconds on Dec. 31, 2010.
10: Knockdowns landed as a UFC heavyweight, tying Overeem with Andrei Arlovski and Cain Velasquez for second on the division’s all-time list. He trails only Junior dos Santos (14).
1: Submission loss for Overeem. He tapped to a Fabricio Werdum kimura under the Pride Fighting Championships banner in May 2006.
29: Years of age for Sakai, who was born in Curitiba, Brazil, on May 19, 1991.
35: Seconds needed for Sakai to put away Marcio Fernando with punches at a Power Fight Extreme event in November 2011. Having occurred in his second professional assignment, it remains the fastest finish of his 17-fight career.
1: Defeat on the Sakai ledger. He wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against Cheick Kongo at Bellator 179 a little more than three years ago.
81: Percent of significant strikes directed at the head by Sakai in UFC competition. He has thrown 502 significant strikes in his four Octagon appearances, with 407 of them aimed upstairs.
9: Straight victories to start Sakai’s career. He made his debut at a regional show in Brazil on Oct. 15, 2011 and maintained a pristine resume until he fought Dan Charles to a majority draw at Bellator 155 on May 20, 2016.
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