Market: Draw No Bet
Stake: 10/10 units
Odds: 2.30 (UK: 13/10; US: +130)
Alistair Overeem (1.62) vs. Sergey Pavlovich (2.30) - UFC Heavyweight Division
Overeem is 8-6 in UFC, 43-17-1 overall. Last 5: L-W-W-L-L
Pavlovich makes his UFC debut, 12-0 overall. Last 5: W-W-W-W-W
Overeem (38) was finished by a late ground and pound flurry from Curtis Blaydes at UFC 225. That is now two stoppage losses in a row following a brutal KO by Francis Ngannou at UFC 218 - the sort of KO that has you holding your breath hoping that no serious, long-lasting damage was done. Earlier in 2017 he was in control for two rounds against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 213. However, he's always one punch away from disaster and sure enough he was hurt and left clinging on to win a decision that could easily have been scored a 28-28 draw. Came close to achieving his aim of becoming UFC HW Champion at UFC 203, knocking Stipe Miocic down with a straight left and pouncing on a guillotine that looked very tight. Unfortunately for Overeem, Miocic recovered and finished him with strikes before the end of round one. Impressively rebounded from his title shot disappointment by putting Mark Hunt to sleep with a textbook knee from the clinch at UFC 209. He rode a four fight winning streak into his title shot with victories over Andrei Arlovski (KO), Junior dos Santos (KO), Roy Nelson (decision) and Stefan Struve (KO). Very decorated martial artist with titles in Strikeforce, DREAM and a K-1 Grand Prix win under his belt. Extremely experienced having debuted in 1999 and was a part of PRIDE 2002-2007 when it was the premier MMA organisation in the world between. Memorable career wins over Vitor Belfort (x2), Sergei Kharitonov, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum outside the organisation. Three KO losses at the start of his UFC career against Big Foot Silva, Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell, it's a credit to him that he rebounded from those to make his way to a title shot. Has absorbed a lot of damage throughout his career, 13 KO losses in MMA as well as many more in Kickboxing and gym wars. Now training at Elevation Fight Team (with Blaydes) following a spell at Jacksons-Wink MMA. Kickboxing background but also a big submission threat (19/43 wins), especially with his guillotine. Nowadays training at Jacksons MMA.
Pavlovich (26) signs with the UFC having been regarded by those in the know as the most promising HW prospect yet to fight on the biggest stage. The Russian has fought most of his pro career in the strong Russian promotion Fight Nights Global, going 11-0 with the promotion since debuting at the end of 2014. Notable career wins over Ruben Wolf (12-10), Chaban Ka (8-5-1), Alexei Kudin (24-11-1), Mikhail Mokhnatkin (11-2-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (11-5). 9/12 wins by KO with all of those coming in the first round. Splits his time training between Eagles MMA and American Kickboxing Academy. Strong, fast and athletic HW. Prefers to strike and has a Greco-Roman wrestling background to help him keep fights standing.
Overeem has an incredible amount of mileage on him, I can't think of anyone else who has continued to compete at this level with 13 KO losses on their record. It's amazing he's still fighting at an elite level given the punishment big body has taken over the years. It now seems unlikely that he will ever achieve his goal of becoming UFC Champion and the UFC are probably keen to move on one of their more expensive assets (which would explain why he's being fed to the two best HW prospects in the sport back to back).
At this stage of his career, the last opponent Overeem needs to be facing is a young, hungry HW who combines speed and power like few others in the sport. Pavlovich is likely going to be contending for world titles in the future and although he hasn't faced or beaten anyone of Overeem's calibre yet, he has the tools to blast through the Dutchman and make a real statement in his UFC debut. He's receiving the best possible preparation by training with current HW Champion Daniel Cormier at AKA, so I expect to see an improved version of Pavlovich each time he steps inside the cage.
I don't agree with Pavlovich being the underdog, I think it is at least 60/40 in his favour and he might even make that end up looking conservative. Full stake on the Russian, I just don't see Overeem being able to deal with the speed, power and aggression that he brings to the table.