35 year-old Derrick Lewis faces off against 45 year-old Alexey Oleinik in a heavyweight showdown in typical pensioner fashion, UFC Apex, Las Vegas, 8 August 2020.

Guess who’s back, back again. Apex’ back, tell your friends. Oh boi, a smaller cage is so incredibly refreshing for fights that otherwise would have been long, drawn-out duds. The close-quarter combat suits both heavyweight’s styles in the main event. Derrick Lewis prefers to rest his rump against the cage for extended periods before exploding and cutting distance rapidly with haymakers, while the shorter distance presents Oleinik with more chances to enter into grappling exchanges where he can work on a number of submissions.

In trend with the card last week, Saturday’s card has also been hit with several last-minute pull-outs under the ‘unknown reason’ category. Perhaps most upsetting, is the loss of a striking war between Alex Caceres and Giga Chikadze. Favouring unorthodox shots more often than they should, Caceres and Chikadze would have been fifteen minutes of spinning bey-blade action.

The Pintsized Interests Naughty Corner™️ is sad to announce two new members: Beneil Dariush and Laureano Staropoli. Missing weight by two pounds and three and a half pounds respectively, both men have botched their fights into catchweight bouts. Weight mismanagement is another mark against Dariush’s reputation, for whom the company seems to have put no value in his stock after a shock knockout loss to Alexander Hernandez back in 2018.

UFC Vegas 6 preview, 'Lewis vs Oleinik' predictions - MMAmania.com
Derrick Lewis looks in real pain as he loads up a flying knee with enough power that it could knock out an elephant. Unfortunately for Derrick, it missed his opponent, Ilir Latifi, by a considerable distance during their bout at UFC 247, 8 February 2020.

Main Event

Heavyweight (265)

Derrick Lewis (23-7) vs Alexey Oleinik (59-13-1)

Derrick Lewis has looked incredibly flat in his last two matches against Ilir Latifi and Blagoy Ivanov. In typical Lewis fashion, he coasted for large portions of the fight, yet instead of securing an emphatic knockout, collected decision victories that could have gone against him on both nights. It is almost impossible to assess how good Lewis is, or ever has been, during his MMA career. In regards to some areas of fighting, Lewis makes it look simple: able to lift himself off the mat at ease during the worst situations (i.e. several times against Roy Nelson, Lewis just shrugged the beer-bellied unit off of him). Moreover, Lewis holds incredible power in both hands that seems to only generate into super-Saiyan form during the final embers of a fight; killing Marcin Tybura and Alexander Volkov in such a fashion. Also, whether you regard it as a meme fight or not, Lewis out-struck the current heavyweight boogeyman, Francis N’Gannou over 15 minutes.

Now, focusing on Lewis’ weaknesses. Firstly, inactivity. The Black Beast is far too happy to shell up and have the pace and distance dictated to him, opting instead to fire pot-shots sporadically throughout the contest. Inactivity brings us onto the next point, fitness. Lewis has rarely looked in prime shape over the past few years, consistently putting this down to a recurring back problem. Whether this is an excuse to cover-up shoddy cardio problems, we may never know, but perhaps the real reason behind Lewis’ inactivity is a deliberate attempt to conserve his flailing gas tank. Altogether, this neatly ties into Lewis’ final major issue. Sloppy technique. Lewis has been bailed out by his power far too many times to count. Throwing eye-catching switch-kicks or overhands does not mask the fact that Lewis is routinely out-hustled on the feet by volume strikers (i.e. Volkov, Junior Dos Santos), nor does his Spongebob-Esque ‘imma head out’ ground game hide his failure to stop opponents securing considerable control time (i.e. Marcin Tybura, Daniel Cormier).

Oleinik is an old man who has suddenly found himself in the best shape of his life, sporting a Grecian God’s abdominals during his last fight against Fabricio Werdum. Acknowledging the fact that Werdum was awful in his long-awaited two-year return to the octagon, Oleinik out-struck him for the first two rounds lol. Weird old-man fight aside, Oleinik approaches each match with the same mentality – all-out submission or nothing. Oleinik fires off weird looping overhands which aim to swarm an opponent onto the fence before Oleinik initiates a clinch and works his way to any form of submission – his preferred in the UFC being: Ezekiel choke (twice) and neck crank (twice). Not to take away from Oleinik’s credentials on the ground, but the heavyweight division is not known for its roster filled with well-rounded skill-sets. The majority of 265-ers tend to follow the same philosophy of swang n bang, or die exhausted on their shield.

Predicted Result: Lewis TKO Round 3

Lewis’ athleticism will see him through this one relatively unscathed. During the early rounds, Oleinik will likely out-strike Lewis in terms of numbers, throwing his typically high-volume looping hooks. If the fight does hit the mat, I expect Lewis is strong enough on the ground to prevent himself being trapped in anything stupid like an Ezekiel choke. If Lewis targets Oleinik’s legs, a tactic which Mark Hunt used to great effect, then he will chop the roots out from under the old man and leave him stranded for Lewis’ killer blow.

UFC 246: Bizarre Tap Out as Aleksei Oleinik Submits Maurice Greene ...
Alexey Oleinik yeets the arm clean off of Maurice Green at UFC 246, 18 January 2020.

Result: Lewis def. Oleinik // TKO (punches) Round 2 0:21

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

Co-Main Event

Middleweight (185)

Chris Weidman (14-5) vs Omari Akhmedov (20-4-1)

The All-American returns to middleweight and desperately hoping not to be sent back to the shadow realm for the sixth time in five years. Weidman experienced one of the sharpest champion’s falls in recent history following his decisive victories over former middleweight GOAT, Anderson Silva. Nuked by Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi, Jacare Souza, and Dominick Reyes; Weidman has faced a murderer’s row. Not to be forgotten is how good Weidman has looked in all of the fights, until he hasn’t. Weidman utilised his sharpish boxing as well as having success with his sweltering top-game. Unfortunately for Weidman, whether it has been poor luck or a chin that refuses to hold-up, his lights have eventually been switched off and the positives of his performances have been lost over time. Weidman still possesses a fabulous top-game that can not only hold opponents down for entire rounds, but also incorporates hurtful ground and pound that seeks to finish opponents. Never write off The Chris.

Akhmedov is an ugly, boring fighter who gets the job done. Out-hustling the lower-level competition in the UFC roster, Akhmedov has managed to keep himself in the job by regularly stealing judges scorecards from right under opponent’s nose. Rudimentary but high volume striking, combined with Dagestani wrestling supreme, means Akhmedov comfortably out-skills the Zak Cummings’ and Kyle Noke’s of the MMA world.

Predicted Result: Weidman Decision

Weidman has finally been offered an opponent outside of the top-ten, and one whom prefers to grapple rather than exchange on the feet. Weidman showed signs of his championship qualities even during his crushing losses, and his experience at the top-level will show clearly against Akhmedov. If Weidman is to lose, surely it is time to hang up the gloves for good.

UFC 168: How Chris Weidman Buried the Legend | Bleacher Report ...
Chris Weidman defends his Middleweight title with a leg block that snapped Anderson Silva’s leg into jelly, UFC 168, 29 December 2013.

Result: Weidman def. Akhmedov // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Main Card

Middleweight (185)

Darren Stewart (11-5) vs Maki Pitolo (13-5)

Darren Stewart is a hulk of a man who enters this contest as the fighter more likely to stick to a gameplan, and as such, is at a huge advantage. Stewart posses a solid chin and the athletic ability to bully Pitolo in grappling exchanges against the fence. Wins over Bevon Lewis and Charles Byrd proved that Stewart deserves his place in the UFC, and a victory over Pitolo would allow him to take the next step-up.

Pitolo is a limited fighter, but if he isn’t fun as hell to watch. A plodding front-foot style with no feints or set-ups, choosing to only throw rangey strikes with the sole intent to take an opponent’s head clean off? Sign me up. To be fair, Pitolo can grapple solidly enough as well, but his preferred tactics of terminator-esque striking is the real selling point.

Predicted Result: Stewart Decision

The smaller octagon should benefit Stewart’s gameplan of holding Pitolo against a fence and out-muscling ‘Coconut Bombz’ in a grappling war. Of note though, is the chance that during the final round, Pitolo has worn down Stewart’s gas tank, and can pile on an intense striking pace that steals a victory last-minute.

Result: Stewart def. Pitolo // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 1 3:41

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Womens Bantamweight (135)

Yana Kunitskaya (12-5) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-3-1)

I refuse to do a long-write up for this one. Kunitskaya is an alright fighter, her decision victory over Marion Reneau is a legitimate career high point. A lay and pray-er by nature, Kunitskaya is technical enough on the ground to see herself through to decision victories against middling competition. Stoliarenko on the other hand… good Lord. Six of her nine wins are from an armbar in the first round.

Predicted Result: Kunitskaya Decision

I mean, Stoliarenko by submission in the first-round is obviously a possibility, but Kunitskaya has fought tougher opposition and looked okay.

Result: Kunitskaya def. Stoliarenko // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Lightweight (155)

Beneil Dariush (18-4-1) vs Scott Holtzman (14-3)

Dariush is coming off a crazy turn-around knockout victory over Drakkar Klose, during which Klose wobbled Dariush but ended up asleep after Dariush fought fire with fire and swarmed the German. A four-fight win streak which includes a very well-aged submission victory over Drew Dober has done little to boost Dariush in the lightweight rankings after a shock first-round knockout to Alexander Hernandez back in 2018. Dariush’s chin has been questionable since, but his striking quality and wrestling ability leaves Dariush as possibly the most dangerous unranked fighter at lightweight.

Holtzman recently passed the eternal gatekeeper, Jim Miller, during a three-round display of aggressive, clean striking and solid defensive grappling. Holtzman’s inability to stop the fight from entering into a wrestling affair will be his downfall, however.

Predicted Result: Dariush Submission Round 2

Dariush by unanimous decision could be an excellent shout, as the much more skilled fighter will be able to shut-out Holtzman on the feet or ground if his chin can hold-up. Instead, I think Dariush will look for the finish, desperate to throw his name back into the rankings.

Result: Dariush def. Holtzman // KO (spinning backfist)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Preliminary Card

Welterweight (170)

Tim Means (29-12-1) vs Laureano Staropoli (9-2)

Means has recently started to look slightly behind the pace at the highest levels. Regularly out-worked by the up-and-comers in extended striking exchanges, this is a nightmare match-up against the volume King, Staropoli. Staropoli throws at an insane pace, choosing volume over power. Means would likely have ate up Staropoli a few years back, using crafty counter-striking, but father time is cruel.

Predicted Result: Staropoli Decision

A decent chin, alongside a blistering striking pace, will out-work Means on the feet and secure a unanimous decision.

Result: Means def. Staropoli // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Middleweight (185)

Kevin Holland (17-5) vs Joaquin Buckley (10-2)

A quick replacement for Holland, who unfortunately could not fight last week due to his opponent (Trevin Giles) fainting before the walk-out. Buckley is a last-minute replacement who is bravely taking a gigantic step-up in competition. Holland is stronger, more technical, and has more experience against quality fighters. Buckley fought to a second-round knockout victory JUST LAST WEEEKEND, a crazy set of circumstances for the Missouri native.

Predicted Result: Holland Submission Round 2

Buckley’s advantage is striking power, yet Holland’s greatest attribute is his resilience. Holland has the better grappling chops, and will be able to submit a weakened, unprepared opponent in the second.

Result: Holland def. Buckley // TKO (punch) Round 3 0:32

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Lightweight (155)

Nasrat Haqparast (11-3) vs Alex Muñoz (6-0)

Haqparast had all the hype behind him until Drew Dober damn near beat Haqparast into a cadaver back in January 2020. It was a truly terrible stoppage by the ref, with Haqparast eating ten or more punches than he really should have. A damaging knockout loss like that can often ruin fighter’s forever. The UFC is correctly throwing Haqparast a soft ball in Muñoz, a regional fighter who fights under Team Alpha Male. Haqparast is able to stuff almost all takedowns, and if he is still the same fighter as before, will pressure Muñoz with long combinations of hurtful strikes.

Predicted Result: Haqparast TKO Round 3

Haqparast will look to shake the cobwebs away from a terrible start to his 2020. Likely to be tentative at the start, Haqparast will eventually find his range and hurt Muñoz late in the fight.

Result: Haqparast def. Muñoz // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Middleweight (185)

Andrew Sanchez (11-5) vs Wellington Turman (16-3)

Couple of sleepers in the middleweight division. Sanchez is a fabulous fighter for the first half of the fight, then operates on survival mode with an empty tank for the remainder. Combining crisp striking on the feet with strong grappling, Sanchez should be fighting stronger competition than he currently is. Turman is a young grappler, who struggles to take his opponent down. If Turman can crack the takedown so it is a consistent weapon in his arsenal, he could become a Jacare Souza jr. in the middleweight division.

Predicted Result: Sanchez Decision

Turman doesn’t have the striking credentials to really punish a flailing Sanchez in the third round. Perhaps he could submit an exhausted Sanchez, but I believe Sanchez’s defensive grappling will see him through to the scorecards.

Result: Sanchez def. Turman // KO (punch) Round 1 4:14

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Featherweight (145)

Justin Jaynes (16-4) vs Gavin Tucker (11-1)

Justin Jaynes returns after a wild first-round knockout of Frank Camacho, in a fight where Jaynes was a late call-up and heavy underdog. A five-match spree of first-round knockouts does little to help answer just how good Jaynes is, and the match-up with Tucker will do little to answer these questions. Tucker is a wrestler who will be facing the bigger man, as Jaynes cuts down to featherweight. Jaynes has never been finished, and should be able to work himself off his back if he does find himself on the mat.

Predicted Result: Jaynes TKO Round 1

Why not? Jaynes will likely get the finish, it could be any of the three rounds, but lets have a bit of continuity eh.

Result: Tucker def. Jaynes // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 1:43

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Featherweight (145)

Youssef Zalal (9-2) vs Peter Barrett (11-3)

Zalal has been a pleasant surprise during 2020, a man who entered the UFC with a dodgy record but posses a skill-set far superior than what any piece of paper says. Beautiful rangey striking and creative grappling will overwhelm Barrett, who has a tendency to be finished at the regional levels.

Predicted Result: Zalal Decision

Zalal looks to be a real prospect, I’m all-in after his dominant showing against Max Griffin.

Result: Zalal def. Barrett // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Bantamweight (135)

Ali Al Qaisi (8-3) vs Irwin Rivera (9-5)

I thought I remembered the name Irwin Rivera. Turns out, Rivera was the fighter who stood toe-to-toe with the insanely talented kickboxer Giga Chikadze. Rivera was a late-replacement and fought with real intensity and creativity (spinning kicks, superman punches, the whole works). Al Qaisi is a grappler who probably shouldn’t be on a UFC card.

Predicted Result: Rivera TKO Round 3

Couple of pretty poor fighters, but Rivera was brave and fun to watch in his debut so I’m more than happy for the fella to stick around in the organisation and earn his due.

Result: Rivera def. Al Qaisi // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC Fight Night 174: Lewis vs. Oleinik

Winner: 10/12

Method: 5/12

Round: 4/12

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 69/113

Method: 57/113

Round: 47/113

Takeaway comments: Heavyweight is a shambles of a division.

Tipping Jar

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