- Date & Location: Saturday Sept. 5 @UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV.
- Odds: Alistair Overeem (-155), Augusto Sakai (+125)
- Prediction: Overeem by knockout
The UFC continues its run of events at UFC Apex in Las Vegas when it presents UFC on ESPN+ 34. The main event of Saturday’s fight card features a battle between two top-10 ranked heavyweights at opposite ends of their careers.
In one corner, there is former UFC heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem, who has 65 professional MMA fights to his name. On the opposite side of the octagon stands Augusto Sakai, who has competed in 17 pro MMA scraps. The official UFC heavyweight rankings have Overeem at No. 6, while Sakai checks in at No. 9.
OVEREEM vs. SAKAI ODDS
OVEREEM vs. SAKAI PREDICTION & PICK
Overeem had Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight titles on his list of career accomplishments when he joined the UFC in 2011. Once known as one of the best strikers in the heavyweight ranks, Overeem has gone 11-7 under the UFC banner. All seven of those losses have come by knockout. With that, Overeem has developed a reputation as a “chinny” fighter. The 40-year-old has attempted to dispel that talk by becoming a much more cautious fighter. Sometimes that approach works and sometimes it doesn’t. Overeem is coming off a knockout win over Walt Harris. Overeem has 24 career knockout victories.
Sakai did not make his MMA debut until Overeem was 47 fights into his career. Since his first pro fight in October 2011, Sakai has gone 15-1-1. He joined the UFC in 2018 and has a 4-0 record with the promotion. Two of Sakai’s UFC wins have come by knockout and two have come via decision. Overall, the 29-year-old Sakai has 11 knockout victories.
This fight is a tremendous step up in competition for Sakai. Meanwhile, Overeem has been fighting top-ranked opponents since he joined the UFC. He faced former champion Brock Lesnar in his first bout with the promotion.
Sakai will have a long run with the UFC, but I think his winning streak ends against Overeem.
BETTING VALUE WITH OVEREEM
Overeem has eight knockout wins, three decision victories and seven knockout defeats during his UFC run. Which is to say, consistency is a problem for Overeem. His most recent decision win was his 2017 triumph over Fabricio Werdum.
Sakai is a good fighter and he does have power and Overeem can get rocked, so an upset is not out of the question. However, Sakai has never fought in a five-round UFC main event before and with heavyweights, cardio is always a worry.
Overeem has become more patient in his style, but he still packs big power and I suspect he will tire Sakai and take the knockout win. However, as the odds show, there is some concern about the veteran’s ability to defeat the up-and-coming Sakai.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Overeem has an advantage in experience, competition level, five-round fights, striking accuracy, striking defense and takedowns. Sakai has the advantage in output, but his accuracy is far below Overeem’s.
Overeem plays the part of the savvy veteran these days and his skills and experience will play a big role in this fight.
FIGHT STATS: OVEREEM vs. SAKAI
|Alistair Overeem||Category||Augusto Sakai|
|3.66||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||5.45|
|2.18||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.89|
|1.40||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.19|
|0.90||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.00|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
We are seeing many fights like this one these days. And that is the old guard vs. the up and comer. These matchups are test matchups. They allow the UFC to find out who is moving up, who is moving down, who is ready to take the next step up the ladder and who could be on the way to a fall.
At 40, Overeem still believes he has a title run in him. This matchup against the 29-year-old Sakai will go a long way toward telling that tale. At the same time, this booking will let us know if Sakai is ready for top-5 ranked UFC competition.