'Arlovski vs. Overeem' Preview + Predictions - UFC Fight Night 87


This Sunday afternoon, the UFC will be making its debut in the Netherlands. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love it when they explores international markets. It's a great way to bring eyes into the sport, and to solidify UFC’s position as a multibillion dollar, international company. If you're from Rotterdam, you must be excited. The card offers an outstanding combination of local newcomers, veterans and legends. For the rest of us, there are still some pretty exciting fights taking place. Today, I'll preview and predict the two biggest matches on the card. Let's go!


Gunnar Nelson vs. Albert Tumenov


I feel like people are not giving this fight enough love. Here, we have two young, hungry, superb fighters with contrary styles. That's the perfect formula! I genuinely believe this has the potential to steal the show.


Now, let's begin with Albert Tumenov. This Russian boxer is only 24, but he's already making a big name for himself. Currently, he's the 13th best fighter in the Welterweight division. Now, this guy has a very unique style. From a technique point of view, he's great. Loves to throw combinations, and he has a mean left hook. At times, he can get ahead of himself, and put himself at risk as he's trying to get the knockout. Something important to point out is the fact that he's not the most versatile fighter. Whenever he steps in the octagon, his strategy is cristal clear: go in there, put a lot of pressure, and unload vicious combinations;and when you look at his record (18-2), you have to admit that it seems to be working for him.


On the other side, we have Gunnar Nelson. This Icelandic warrior is one of the smartest fighters in the division. When he's not training with Conor Mcgregor, he's perfecting his fantastic BJJ. Not the best striker, but an excellent grappler. Out of his 14 victories (14-2-1), ten of them have been achieved by submission. He's very patient on his feet, utilizing distance to figure his opponent's style, take them to the ground, and submit them. After a tough loss against Damian Maia, Gunni is looking for redemption.


This is a very clear 'ground vs. feet' battle. Whenever they're standing up, it's pretty clear that Tumenov will have the edge. And hey, this is MMA. A good hit can change everything. So I wouldn't be surprised is he's able to rock Nelson with the right strike and finish him. However, I believe Gunnar has the overall advantage. Albert will be pushing forward, throwing bombs. If he's able to avoid the big hits, he should be able to get the clinch and take the fight to the mat. Once there, there's no reason for me to think that Tumenov will give him trouble.

Prediction: Gunnar Nelson


Andrei Arlovski vs. Alistair Overeem


This is a strange matchup. Not for us. Two of the best heavyweights in the world going at it? Sounds great! But for the fine people at Jackson's MMA, it must entirely change the gym's dynamic. It's rare for two fighters training at the same place to battle each other. But hey, both guys want the title, and if they must fight each other, so be it.


First off, we have the biggest star to ever come out of the Netherlands (outside of Bas Rutten), Alistair Overeem. This brutal kickboxer is one of the scariest men in the division. Dominant victories over guys like Junior Dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Brock Lesnar have taken his stock to the next level. Pound for pound, Overeem might have the hardest leg work in the division. He's great at hitting you with iron body kicks and knees. Eventually, they take a toll on you and he can easily finish you. An MMA veteran (40-14-1), this might be his final chance to claim the UFC belt, and a win over Arlovski could get him the next shot.


Then, we have The Pit Bull, Andrei Arlovski. This Russian boxer has reinvigorated his career in a way nobody could have imagined. After leaving the company in 2008, people thought he was done. Nevertheless, he returned to the UFC and won 4 fights in a row, until being TKO'd by Stipe Miocic earlier this year. Holding a 25-11-1 record, he's an incredibly powerful striker, in his mental prime. Since his arrival at Jackson's, he has become a more patient, methodical and proficient striker, waiting for the right time to throw the right punch. For this fight, both head coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn will be on his corner. A victory over Overeem will instantly place him in the title picture.


How do I see the fight playing out? It's a tough one. I definitely know it'll be a stand up festival, but it's hard to predict the outcome. When it comes to strategies, I think the lines are drawn. Arlovski is a very mobile fighter, and he will want to stick and move. His solid cardio will allow him to do it from bell to bell. He has to be extremely careful and disciplined, waiting until he sees a real opening to land his fast, ferocious right hand. If anything, patience is key. The longer the fight goes, the higher his chances become. Because let me tell you something, Overeem's cardio is an issue. Over the last couple of years, he has been known to gas extremely fast, leaving him fully vulnerable. His gameplan should be to use the jab and his strong kicks to establish range, and land a haymaker as soon as possible. I have my money on Arlovski. I think he will go in feeling confident and focused, with an intelligent strategy. Whatever happens, this one is not going the distance.

Prediction: Andrei Arlovski


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