Oleinik's defeat, Makhachev's fifth consecutive victory, Pavlovich's quick knockout: what is the UFC tournament in St. Petersburg remembered by
The second in the history of the Russian UFC tournament took place in St. Petersburg. In the main event of the evening, Aleksey Oleinik suffered an early defeat from Alistair Overeem. Islam Makhachev took over Arman Tsarukyan and extended the winning streak to five fights. Sergei Pavlovich won his first fight in the Absolute Fighting Championship, knocking out Marcelo Golma in 66 seconds.
Seven months after the UFC’s first visit to Russia, the main MMA promotion of the world once again pleased domestic fans of mixed martial arts. This time the tournament was held in St. Petersburg at the arena of the Yubileiny sports complex, designed for seven thousand spectators. In such conditions, one did not have to wait for the repetition of the Moscow result - more than 22 thousand people visited the show in the capital, which was at that time the fifth indicator in the history of the organization.
Despite this, the show was replete with interesting confrontations, and in the main match of the evening UFC heavyweight stars Alexey Oleinik and Alistair Overeem faced. Prior to that, athletes have never met in the octagon, but they trained together. Initially, the rival of the Dutchman was to become the sixth number of the rating of Alexander Volkov, but he was forced to withdraw from the fight due to health problems. His compatriot decided to take a risky step and agreed to lead the second consecutive Russian tournament of the Absolute Fighting Championship. In Moscow, he defeated the legendary Mark Hunt.
On the eve of the fight Oleinik acted as an underdog. Overeem surpassed it in physical strength and level of readiness. According to the original plans, Alexey had to conduct his next fight with Walt Harris in May at a tournament in Canada, therefore, the preparation was planned according to these deadlines. Because of the change of opponent, he had to not only force the training process, but also radically change the plan. Unlike an American, a Dutchman is a tall athlete specializing in percussion techniques and fluent in Muay Thai.
To the surprise of many, Oleinik did not look for happiness in the fight, but made an attempt to hold a duel in front. From the very first seconds, he threw himself at his opponent and hit him several times in the head. Overeem more than once found himself in knockouts and long ago gained fame as a fighter with a “crystal jaw”, as a result of which such tactics seemed quite justified.
KNEES by @AlistairOverem! pic.twitter.com/Rj9OsIaU4X- UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019
However, the Dutchman managed to survive the assault performed by the Russian, and already in the second half of the first round, fatigue began to be felt in Alexey’s actions. The lack of training seriously affected his endurance, which was skillfully used by Alistair. Surpassing his rival in growth and power, he squeezed him in the clinch and began to deliver powerful blows with his knees. One of these sent Oleynik to the canvas, and Overeem just had to finish. 14 seconds before the end of the round, Judge Mark Goddard stopped the bout and awarded the Dutchman a technical knockout victory.
Thus, Overeem interrupted the series of Oleynik from two victories and in the second fight in a row took over the athlete from Russia. In November, he defeated UFC debutant Sergei Pavlovich in a similar manner. The fight also ended with a technical knockout at the end of the first round.
Pavlovich’s success and Makhachev’s winning streak
It is noteworthy that Sergey also played in the main card of the tournament. This time, the organizers did not “throw him under the tanks,” choosing a simpler rival for the fighter. They became Marcelo Golm, who was on the verge of dismissal from the UFC. In three fights, the Brazilian won only one victory, despite the fact that the opposition left much to be desired. So, he now lost to Bellator representative Timothy Johnson and Arjan Bullard, who is not in the top 15 heavyweights of promotion.
Pavlovich had only 66 seconds to prove his superiority over the Golm. He tried on his opponent for about a minute, after which he broke out with a whole series of crushing blows from the right. The judge was forced to intervene and stop the fight.
How's that for your first UFC win !! # UFCStPetersburgpic.twitter.com/JqvEtq77q7- UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019
Pavlovich not only won his first victory in the UFC, but also earned an additional $ 50 thousand. His knockout in a duel with Golm received one of two awards for "Evening Performance." The second was awarded to his compatriot Magomed Mustafayev. In the first fight of the show, he practically repeated the achievement of Edson Barboza and with a beautiful kick with a turn turned to the flooring of Raphael Fizeev from Kyrgyzstan.
The “battle of the evening” was called the duel between Islam Makhachev and Arman Tsarukyan. For team-mate Habib Nurmagomedov, this fight was the first in the last nine months - the last time he appeared in the Octagon in July 2018. It is not surprising that the current UFC lightweight champion decided to personally support his friend and visited the St. Petersburg tournament.
In his eyes, Makhachev showed why he is one of the strongest defense specialists in the UFC - an athlete misses an average of 0.82 beats per minute. He was practically elusive for his opponent: he controlled the distance well and did not allow Tsarukyan to be noted for serious hits. And this despite the efforts of the Armenian, who was extremely active throughout the fight.
Beautiful takedown by @ MAKHACHEVMMA # UFCStPetersburgpic.twitter.com / b8LEwc0drt- UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019
Makhachev was better in the pit. In 15 minutes he sent his rival to the flooring four times and only once found himself there. Tsarukyan tried his best and was very competitive in the first round, but after that he slowed down seriously. UFC debutant failed to correctly calculate the force, which was one of the reasons for the failure.
At the end of the bout, all three judges gave their preference to Makhachev, and two of them with a difference of three points. Islam extended its winning streak to five battles and is second only to four members of the lightweight category in this indicator. Tony Ferguson has 11 fights won, Nurmagomedov has one less. In the asset of Gregor Gillespie and Mairbek Taysumov - six each.
Successes Russians and failure Shtyrkova
In addition to Makhachev, Pavlovich and Mustafayev, other Russian fighters also successfully performed. In the preliminary card, heavyweight Shamil Abdurahimov won his third victory in a row, knocking out ex-M-1 Global champion Marcin Tyburu. In the middle of the second round, he hit the left side, after which he did not leave his opponent a chance.
Alexander Yakovlev returned to lightweight, taking over the Brazilian Alex da Silva Coelho. The outcome of the fight also came in the second round, when he caught his opponent in the choke “guillotine”. This success helped the Russian to interrupt his series of two defeats, which he suffered after his transition to welterweight. Then Zach Cummings and the current UFC champion Camara Usman acted as his offenders.
Successes were noted also by two other Russian fighters. Movsar Yevloyev was stronger than the South Korean Sen Woon Choi, while Sultan Aliyev defeated Japanese Keitaro Nakamura. It is noteworthy that immediately after the end of the tournament, the 34-year-old athlete announced his retirement. He played in the UFC since 2015 and held four fights in which he scored two victories and suffered two defeats.
Russian fans could please and Ivan Shtyrkov, but was forced to withdraw from the tournament. A day before the battle, the Ural Hulk felt unwell and was hospitalized, as a result of which he was unable to fight with the American Devin Clark.