The UFC returns to Russia next month for UFC Fight Night 149 (or UFC on ESPN+ 7) as heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Alistair Overeem square off in the main event on April 20, 2019 at the Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Fighting" Alexander Volkov vs Alistair Overeem

Alexander Volkov arrived in the UFC with a fancy resume. The Russian mixed martial artist was the former Bellator Heavyweight champion and the former M-1 Global Heavyweight title holder. After a successful campaign in both promotions, Volkov signed with the UFC in 2016 and has now risen as the promotion’s #6 ranked heavyweight to date.

Volkov is 30 years old and stands 6-7 with a reach of 81 inches. The former Bellator Season 7 & 10 Heavyweight tournament champion has a record of 30-7 with 20 knockouts and three wins by submission. Drago opened his UFC career with four consecutive wins and was well on his way to a fifth victory when he got knocked out by Derrick Lewis with 11 seconds left in their fight.

A striker by heart, Volkov prefers to fight on his feet but is also comfortable o the ground. He has heavy hands and is accurate with his strikes. Drago also has a good takedown game and if he takes the fight to the canvass, he has a vicious ground and pound game that almost always leads to a finish. With his height, reach and mobility, Volkov is always a difficult read for UFC heavyweights.

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Odds from as of 4/01/19

Alistair Overeem is one of the best strikers the fight game has ever seen. The Reem is the only fighter in history to hold an MMA and K-1 Kickboxing World championships at the same time. The Dutchman is a former world champion at Strikeforce, DREAM (interim champion) and a K-1 Grand Prix World champion. Overeem has beaten six different former UFC champions in his tenure with the promotion and is the #7 ranked heavyweight today.

The 38-year old Overeem stands 6-5 with a reach of 79.5 inches while fighting as an orthodox fighter. He has a professional MMA record of 44-17-0-1 with 22 knockouts and 17 wins by way of submission. Overeem is coming off a TKO victory over little known Sergey Pavlovich last November but is just 3-3 in his last six bouts with all three of his losses via knockout.

Overeem is one of the most well-rounded heavyweight we’ve ever seen. Whether it’s leg kicks or guillotine chokes, he can hang around with the best in the business. He has power in his fists but he is also very comfortable on his back. Reem is an excellent wrestler with very good submission skills. The only worry with Overeem is his age and that his power works both ways: it’s either he knocks you out or he gets knocked out as 13 of his 17 losses have been by knockout.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

The odds from the Russia event aren’t out yet but do check on the oddsmakers from time to time for the latest updates. We have a list of the best UFC gambling sites to give you the best odds. We also have a detailed guide on how to bet on the UFC in 2019 if you need that assistance as well.  But going back, I think Volkov has the edge over Overeem.

When you take a look at the stats, Volkov stands as the better striker between the two when it comes to volume. The Russian averages 5.31 significant strikes landed per minute at a 60% accuracy while The Dutchman lands a total of 3.55 significant strikes per minute at a 61% accuracy rate. On the ground, Overeem lands 1.42 takedowns and 1.0 submission per 15 minutes. Volkov is less active on the ground with 0.86 and 0.3, respectively.

It’s clear really where each fighter would like this fight to go. Volkov, being taller and rangier, will love to keep this fight on his feet where he has the faster hands and where his best chance of beating Overeem. Volkov has excellent knockout power and we know Overeem’s glass jaw. On the other hand, Overeem will want to avoid a striking affair with Drago and will shoot for the takedowns while looking to dominate on the ground. If Overeem can take Volkov easily, he’s going to grind out a victory here.

However, every fight starts on the feet and Volkov doesn’t need to many punches to put his opponents to sleep. This was the case during the Cain Velasquez vs Francis Ngannou bout where we passed on the striker and picked the more well-rounded veteran. Overeem is already 38 and I’m not sure what’s left in his tank, if anything at all. Sure, he has the power to knock Volkov out but if there’s gonna be a KO in this fight, it will be Volkov who is going to score that knockout punch. Prediction: Alexander Volkov by knockout

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“Fighting" Marcin Tybura vs Shamil Abdurakhimov

#10 heavyweight Marcin Tybura fights #13 Shamil Abdurakhimov in a showdown that is an opportunity for both to move up in the rankings. Tybura has a record of 17-4 with seven knockouts and six submissions. The 33 year old from Poland is 6-3 and has a reach of 78 inches while fighting at the orthodox stance. Tybura is coming off a points win over Stefan Struve last July 2018.

Abdurakhimov enters this fight with a record of 19-4 with eight knockouts and four submissions. The 37 year old Russian is also 6-3 and has a reach of 76 inches while fighting at the orthodox stance. Abdurakhimov is 4-2 in the UFC and he is on a two-fight win streak.

Abdurakhimov is a technical kickboxer who doesn’t rely on punching power. He is also a good grappler who uses his size well during wrestling exchanges. Overall, he isn’t elite at one aspect but is solid in all departments. Unlike the other big guys who want to finish fights fast, Abdurakhimov is built to go longer and even perhaps the distance. Same goes with Tybura, who is as “boring” to watch. Tybura’s biggest asset is his grappling and many of his knockouts come via ground and pound. He too likes to go the distance. The difference in this fight is Tybura’s takedowns. I think the Pole slows down Abdurakhimov by dragging the fight to the ground. Prediction: Marcin Tybura by decision

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“Fighting" Islam Makhachev vs Arman Tsarukyan

Makhachev is a former combat sambo world champion and has a record of 16-1 with 3 knockouts and 7 wins by submission. He is 6-1 with one knockout and two submissions in the UFC. His loss was a first round knockout at the hands of Adriano Martins. Makhachev is a takedown machine who averages more than 4 takedowns per 15 minutes at 86% accuracy.

Arman Tsarukyan was the TMT Tryouts 2018 winner. He has a record of 13-1-0 and has won 12 consecutive bouts. The 22-year old is a Muay Thai fighter who has a freestyle wrestling base. This is his UFC debut so we don’t know how good (or not) he is, really. That said, I’m going with the proven Makhachev here. As a combat sambo master, he prefers to grapple rather than strike and when he’s on the ground, he’s deadly. Prediction: Islam Makhachev by submission

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“Fighting" Roxanne Modafferi vs Antonina Shevchenko

Modafferi is the veteran here, having fought for the inaugural UFC flyweight belt but losing to Nicco Montano by decision. She is also the former FFL flyweight champion. Modafferi is 22-16 with 4 knockouts and 5 submissions. Shevchenko is the older sister of UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina. La Pantera is a former Muay Thai champion and is undefeated in MMA with a record of 7-0 with 2 knockouts. Shevchenko was impressive in her UFC debut, defeating Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision.

These are two strikers here who also have very good takedown games as well. Modaferri’s numbers don’t look sexy though. Her takedown accuracy is 14% and takedown defense just 41%. Striking? Well she just connects on 30% of her strikes and lands just 3.77 strikes per minute while absorbing 5.47 significant strikes per minute. Shevchenko only has one UFC fight to date and if we gauge her with that, she is going to outstrike Modafferi with volume and more kicks. I’m not expecting a knockout here but I expect Shevchenko to win easily. Prediction Antonina Shevchenko via decision

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