UFC’s first visit to Russia quickly had it’s main event established…and then it was quickly taken away.
One half of the initial headliner was former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum, who just days after the fight was made official, was notified of a USADA violation and is now unable to compete.
Werdum’s scheduled opponent for the September 15th Moscow event was Russian fighter, Aleksei Oleinek. Initially reported by MMA Team Dagestan, Oleinek will remain on the card as the main event but he is now expected to be taking on another heavyweight legend in Mark Hunt. Ariel Helwani confirmed the report.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Mark Hunt is in the works for the UFC’s debut event in Moscow, I’m told. UFC forced to move on after Fabricio Werdum was provisionally suspended by USADA this week. The heavyweight fight, which is scheduled to be the main event, is close to being finalized.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 24, 2018
“Aleksei Oleinik vs. Mark Hunt is in the works for the UFC’s debut event in Moscow, I’m told. UFC forced to move on after Fabricio Werdum was provisionally suspended by USADA this week. The heavyweight fight, which is scheduled to be the main event, is close to being finalized.”
It’s been a bit of a rough last couple years for New Zealand’s Hunt. After losing a fight to a PED abusing, Brock Lesnar, Hunt would lose two of his next three to the likes of Curtis Blaydes and Alistair Overeem who knocked him out with a vicious knee. On top of that, he lost out on a fight with Marcin Tybura in a hometown main event after openly speaking about head trauma issues he was having. That alone is bad enough, but Hunt was upset about losing the fight as well.
For Oleinek, this will be his first UFC main event in eight outings. Many expected his fellow countryman and top-ranked Russian heavyweight, Alexander Volkov to be getting the spot, but it appears that the UFC has other plans for the likely future title challenger.
Stylistically, this fight could be another rough one for the no-nonsense striker, Hunt as Oleinek is a submission wizard with 44 wins by such method on his record.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/24/2018.