In the main event of UFC St. Petersburg, Alistair Overeem was supposed to take on Russian Alex Volkov. However, just a few weeks from the fight, Volkov pulled out of the fight leaving the UFC searching for a replacement. After a quick text message to the man who headlined the first-ever UFC event in Russia, in Alexey Oleynik, they had a new main event.
“The UFC proposed me this fight,” Oleynik told BJPENN.com. “They texted me that we need an opponent for Alistair Overeem, and I said yes I am ready. This is very important for me. If I had to choose between a big name and a non-big name I will pick the big name even if it is more dangerous. Overeem has a name and a ranking and that is most important to me. Money doesn’t matter, it is the same money.”
Although stepping in to headline this card is short-notice, Oleynik was preparing for a fight just two weeks after at UFC Ottawa. Meaning he is not worried about his fight readiness.
“I feel in good condition, because I prepared for the fight May 4 in Canada, this just two weeks earlier than my original fight,” he said. “Two weeks does not change my camp and condition.”
Not only is Oleynik stepping up to the main event a UFC card again, but it will also be in his home country of Russia. Although some fighters want to fight at home, Oleynik doesn’t really care but knows the pressure will be on.
“No, I don’t think so. For me, close to home or not close to home, country, that doesn’t matter,” Oleynik said. “The opponent is what matters and Overeem is a well-known guy and a top guy in the rankings. That is what is more important to me.
“But, yes there will be more pressure,” he continued. “I feel more attention from my home fans.”
Ultimately, the most likely way for Oleynik to win this fight is by submission, but even that will be difficult. Overeem was last submitted back in 2006, but the Russian is hoping he can end that streak.
“With God’s help maybe. Many guys are hard to submit like Mark Hunt and Travis Browne and I choked them,” Oleynik explained. “So maybe, I hope I can submit him. I hope.”
In the end, many think a submission is likely for Oleynik. But, he isn’t so sure, rather he may try something else and shock everyone.
“Maybe I try and surprise him. Everyone waits for my game plan but maybe I try two or three different game plans,” he explained. “Overeem is a dangerous guy like he is dangerous like Mark Hunt but he is faster. I trained with Overeem before and he knows my technique so it is more difficult for me. We know each other.”
Who do you think will win the fight between Alexey Oleynik vs Alistair Overeem?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/18/2019