The UFC will return to our screens this weekend with UFC St. Petersburg. The card is topped by a heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Alexey Oleynik.
A heavyweight bout at the top of the bill is a great way to pull casual fans in. However, upon further review, the seventh offering on the ESPN+ platform promises to entertain on an even deeper level.
With 12 fights scheduled and plenty of local flair, UFC St. Petersburg should deliver. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that the prelims will kick off at 10 am (EST).
Let’s look at some more reasons to tune in this Saturday afternoon.
A Shevchenko Sister Is Fighting
To be specific Antonina Shevchenko is fighting. She is the older sister of women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. One day soon, however, she hopes to be known simply as one of the very best 125-pound female fighters in the world.
“The Panther” will definitely have the platform as she will be fighting Roxanne Modafferi on the ESPN+ main card. This fight could prove to be a bit of a sleeper as we build towards the weekend.
Modafferi has lost three of her last four fights and likely needs a win to hang around the promotion. Antonina, on the other hand, is a perfect 7-0.
Another Heavyweight Bout
While the headlining heavyweight contest between Overeem and Oleynik will garner the majority of the UFC St. Petersburg headlines (rightfully so), another heavyweight scrap has the potential to steal the show.
Marcin Tybura vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov is exactly the kind of hidden gem you hope to see on a fight card like this.
Tybura, 33, defeated Stefan Struve last July after suffering back to back losses for the first time in his career. He has a good ground game and decent hands. He will be facing a Russian monster named Abdurakhimov. “Abrek” has dynamite in both hands and a real mean-streak to boot. This fight should be fun.
Ivan “Ural Hulk” Shtyrkov’s UFC Debut
UFC veteran Devin Clark will welcome the “Ural Hulk”, Ivan Shtyrkov to the Octagon at UFC St. Petersburg this weekend.
The fight may not last too as both men are keen finishers. Particularly Shtyrkov, who possess a frame like an iron door. The 30-year-old Russian has yet to be beaten in 17 outings as he boasts a 16-0-1 record heading into his first UFC fight.
Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan
UFC St. Petersurg has a dandy of a co-main event.
Islam Makhachev and Arman Tsarukyan both fight out of Russia but things differ after that. Makhachev should probably already be ranked in the top 15 of the lightweight division. Perhaps that speaks to just how unbelievably stacked the 155-pound division is.
Tsarukyan will make his first walk under the bright light of the UFC in St. Petersburg. That and the fact that he is just 22-years-old could play a significant role in the outcome of this fight. Tune in to find out.
Which fights on the UFC St. Petersburg card are you most excited for?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/17/2019.