UFC ON ESPN 32: Preview, Odds, and Predictions

The UFC returns to the octagon tonight for an evening filled with action packed fights live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The month of August is jam packed with UFC cards. Tonight, Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik take center stage in the main event. The co-main event features the once dominant Chris Weidman facing off against Middleweight new comer Omari Akhmedov. The fights will broadcast live on ESPN+ starting with the prelims at 6pm. The main card will begin at 9pm. Who’s who on this fight card? Let’s breakdown the main card and see what these fighters are all about.

Main Card

Heavyweight Bout

“The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis vs. “The Boa Constrictor” Aleksei Oleinik

Odds: Lewis (-200) Oleinik (+160)

The main event will feature a pair of heavyweights with complete opposite fighting styles and tons of experience. Derrick Lewis enters the fight as the 4th ranked heavyweight in the division. He’s riding back to back decision victories with his latest win over Ilir Latifi. The former challenger to the heavyweight title has a nasty right hand, and he’s put that on display with 7 finishes in the first round. Lewis has tremendous knockout power. The Black Beast has 18 career knockouts! He’s turned into a fan favorite because of the excitement he brings to the octagon.

Aleksei Oleinik is the definition of a seasoned veteran with 73 career fights under his belt. He comes into this fight as the 10th ranked heavyweight. The Russian is on a 2 fight win streak. He impressed in his last fight with a split decision victory over Fabricio Werdum. Oleinik fights a complete opposite style in the octagon. The Boa Constrictor has 46 wins via submission. In 59 victories, Aleksei has finished 45 opponents in the first round! While he’s known as a submission specialist, he’s shown power on his feet with 8 knockouts. This is the classic grappler vs. boxer matchup, and should be an exciting chess match in the cage.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis via KO, 2nd Round

Middleweight Bout

Omari “Wolverine” Akhmedov vs. “The All-American” Chris Weidman

Odds: Weidman (-150) Akhmedov (+120)

The co-main event of the evening features 2 fighters going seemingly in the opposite direction. First, we have the up and comer Omari Akhmedov. The Wolverine is on fire winning each of his last 5 fights in the octagon. The former Welterweight has made the permanent move to the Middleweight division. The aggressive fighting Russian is looking to make an impact in the cage tonight with a win over a marquee name in the sport. A win over Weidman could launch Akhmedov into a meaningful fight later this year.

What can we say about the All-American? Chris Weidman is riding a roller coaster of a MMA career. The former Middleweight champion is in the midst of a terrible stretch of 5 losses in 6 fights. The only win coming from a submission victory over Kelvin Gastellum in 2017. While Weidman hasn’t been dominated, the results are exactly that, results. He’s coming up short, and really needs a win to turn things around. Weidman needs to take control of the fight and finish his opponent. The All-American tends to “gas” late in fights, so a proper game plan would be to get the finish inside 15 minutes. Weidman hopes to overcome the first fight in which he’s an unranked competitor, and establish himself as a force once again in the Middleweight division with a victory over a ranked opponent.

Prediction: Weidman via Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Middleweight Bout

“Coconut Bombz” Maxi Pitolo vs. “The Dentist” Darren Stewart

Odds: Stewart (-165) Pitolo (+130)

The main card showcases another Middleweight bout as Maxi Pitolo takes on Darren Stewart in the cage. Maxi is on a roll having won 4 of his last fights in the octagon. Maxi has 7 career knockouts and 3 submission victories on his resume. The former Welterweight feels right back at home in the Middleweight division, where he earned a UFC contract on Dana White’s contender series. He wants to go out tonight and make a statement to the rest of the division.

“I feel like I’m the total package at 185.”

The guy across the octagon might have something to say about those remarks. Darren Stewart is looking to get back in the win column after a decision loss in the Cage Warriors promotion to Bartosz Fabinski back in March of this year. His UFC fight was cancelled due to the virus, so he got clearance from the UFC and stepped in for that fight. The knockout specialist will hope to build on his 7 knockout victories to bring his challenger back to Earth in the Middleweight division. Stewart is excellent on his feet. He averages 5.2 significant strikes per minute, and has never been knocked out in the cage. Stewart took the fight on 3 weeks notice, but says that he’s prepared to take on his opponent and get a win in the octagon on Saturday night.

Prediction: Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision

Women’s Bantamweight Bout

“Foxy” Yana Kunitskaya vs. Julija Stoliaenko

Odds: Kunitskaya (-195) Stoliaenko (+155)

The lone women’s bout on the card will highlight the bantamweight division as 8th ranked Yana Kunitskaya squares up against Julija Stoliaenko. Yana was originally supposed to fight Ketlen Vieira, but she was forced to withdraw. Enter Julija Stoliaenko. Does the name sound familiar fight fans? Stoliaenko makes her first appearance in the UFC since appearing on the Ultimate fighter television show. She last appeared in the UFC during the TUF finale, but lost, and wasn’t offered a contract. Julija built her resume up, and is on a 5 fight win streak since that defeat in 2018. Julija won the Invicta FC Bantamweight championship in her last fight, and hopes to bring that momentum to the octagon in her fight this evening.

Yana is coming off a devastating knockout loss to Aspen Ladd her last time in the cage. She’s currently 2-2 in the UFC, with her other defeat coming at the hands of Cyborg in her UFC debut. Yana has sandwiched wins over Lina Lansberg and Marion Reneau between her losses. Yana also won the Invicta FC Bantamweight championship before making the trek to the UFC.

This will showcase the classic standing battle vs. grappling war in the octagon. Yana has 7 wins via knockout. When Julija finishes her opponent, it’s 100% by submission. This will be an interesting battle to watch tonight in Las Vegas.

Prediction: Kunitskaya via KO, 3rd Round

Lightweight Bout

Beneil “Benny” Dariush vs. Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman

Odds: Dariush (-225) Holtzman (+175)

The main card kicks off with a battle in the Lightweight division. Both fighters are in tremendous stretches with Dariush riding a 4 fight win streak to earn a ranking as 14th in the division. Holtzman has been victorious in back to back contests, and winner in 5 of his last 6 fights. Holtzman could earn a ranking with a decisive victory in the cage tonight.

Dariush wasn’t hoping for an unranked opponent, but rather a top ten competitior. However, it is what it is, and he’s ready to fight. He must be careful not to overlook his opponent, and focus on finishing his opponent. Dariush has 8 victories by way of submission. Scott Holtzman will attempt to keep this fight on their feet, and hope for the knockout.

“I don’t want to put on a pair of spats and grapple with him, that would be silly.”

Moral of the story: Fight to your strengths!

Update: Beneil Dariush missed weight (174.5lbs), and will be fined 20% of his purse.

Prediction: Dariush via Split Decision

Prelim Card

  • Tim Means (+120) vs. Laureno Staropoli (-150)
  • Kevin Holland (-500) vs. Joaquin Buckley (+350)
  • Nasrat Haqparast (-260) vs. Alex Munoz (+200)
  • Andrew Sanchez (+120) vs. Wellington Turman (-150)
  • Gavin Tucker (-125) vs. Justin Jaynes (+100)
  • Youssef Zalal (-500) vs. Peter Barrett (+350)
  • Irwin Rivera vs. Ali Alqaisi

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