Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai are the main figures of the upcoming UFC on ESPN+ 34, which takes place this Saturday. This is the battle between two fighters who are in completely different stages of their careers. Overeem is close to ending, and the Dutchman is doing everything he can to secure at least one more chance for winning the UFC belt. On the other side, Sakai is relatively young for one MMA fighter, and he is on his way up to the stars.
Overeem (-150) needs to win this one and hope that the UFC organizes him a title-eliminator match. Otherwise, there is no way for him to fight for the title. If he, by any chance, loses there is no doubt that the heavyweight belt will be miles away. Overeem is No.5 in the rankings and a defeat here would pull him down in the list.
The Demolition Man is coming off a knockout win over Walt Harris in May this year. It was a very difficult bout for Overeem, who survived Harris’ massive burst, which could have been lethal. Still, the veteran of this sport escaped what seemed a certain loss, came back, and eventually post a TKO due to the massive punches he inflicted his rival.
Prior to that one, Overeem had a chance to set up a rematch with Francis Ngannou, who knocked him out at the UFC 218. But surprisingly, the 42-year old veteran lost against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, whose one-punch wonder sent Overeem to the lala land, just four seconds before the end of the fight. We all know how Bigi Boy’s adventure against Ngannou wrapped up.
Sakai (+125) is the new face in the UFC and the one that promises a lot. That is at least what the majority of experts and pundits claim. He is young and talented, but we don’t see him in the top five fighters for at least two more years, even more.
So far, he has two big wins against the former heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, and against Blagoy Ivanov. Now, that would be fine of both of that bouts weren’t a bit controversial. Sakai won them via split decision, with the impressions being heavily against him when talking about the outcome of those matches. There were a lot of moments in them that gave his critics ammo for doubting his quality.
With 15 wins and just that one defeat against Cheick Kongo, while he was in Bellator, Sakai looks very convincing, but be sure, that his current place is far away from the high-profile names in this sport.
Overeem is our pick here, and there is no doubt about that. If you carefully read what we wrote in the upper part of the text, you might have guessed that already. He is more experienced, and even though older, much more powerful than Sakai. We need to add that his recent opponents were far better than the ones the Brazilian-Japanese fighter had, and that needs to be counted in. If, for example, Sakai fought all those guys, be sure that he wouldn’t have above .500 record.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.