Fight Study – September 5, 2020
The UFC returns to Las Vegas for Fight Night 176 and will feature a heavyweight Main Event pitting Augusto Sakai and Alistair Overeem. Both fighters are coming off of wins and will look to keep their streaks alive on Saturday. They will be fighting in the UFC’s Apex octagon which has a smaller surface than the standard octagon and these heavyweights are destined for an explosive contest. Overeem will play the part of the favorite and will have the higher salary on both DraftKings and Fanduel. He is priced at $8,800 on DraftKings and $22 on Fanduel. Sakai is available for $7,400 on DraftKings and $18 on Fanduel. This fight is scheduled for five rounds, however, current odds make this one a -260 favorite to conclude before the final bell.
Sakai is on a six fight win streak and is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC. Overall, his record is 15-1-1 with eleven wins by KO/TKO and four wins by decision. He is a big fighter even for the heavyweight division and he weighed in nine pounds heavier than his opponent on Friday. Although he is the taller fight in this matchup by one inch, he will give up three inches in reach. Overeem will be by far his toughest opponent to date and this Sakai’s first UFC Main Event. Sakai has never fought beyond the third round before. He is a good boxer but doesn’t have the ground game of his opponent. He has a strong takedown defense (at 83% in the UFC) and will need to maintain that against Overeem. If he can defeat Overeem, he will almost certainly find himself a ranked heavyweight contender having already beat #15 on that list, Blagoy Ivanov in his last trip to the octagon.
Overeem is currently the #6 ranked heavyweight contender. Most recently, he defeated Walt Harris by second round TKO in May of this year. He has an incredible resume with a career record of 46-18. In his 46 victories to date, he has 24 wins by KO/TKO, 17 wins by submission and 5 wins by decision. Over his last eleven fights he is 7-4 with six wins by KO/TKO. The oddsmakers give him a very good chance at finishing Sakai in this one at +120 to win inside the distance. He hits with power, has great technique and a strong ground game. He is a complete fighter and may be more than Sakai can handle at this point in his career. He has only fought beyond the third round once in his career, but in that fight he was dominating Jairzinho Rozenstruik until the referee stopped the fight with just 4 seconds left in the fifth round. He has demonstrated the ability to go a full 25 minutes and looks to have the edge in the later rounds against Sakai who’s physical shape is less than impressive.
This fight figures to play out on their feet, but Overeem is definitely capable of takedowns if he wants to grapple. I expect Overeem to test Sakai on his feet to begin, knowing he can look to take him down if needed. Sakai will certainly accept a stand-up fight and will avoid grappling against a fighter with 17 career submissions. Overeem has the longer reach and should be content on his feet where I expect he will have the edge in both technique and power. Sakai, however, is fully capable of finishing opponents and Overeem will need to exercise caution against a heavyweight with Sakai’s history of wins by KO/TKO. If this fight goes to the ground, Overeem will have a significant edge. Current odds make this fight a small favorite to end before the start of the fourth round.
As is usually the case, this Main Event fight plays much better on DraftKings where these fighters’ respective salaries are much closer to the middle than in Fanduel contests. With five rounds of potential scoring, this fight is very likely to be high scoring for the winner. For my money, Overeem is the more complete fighter and I like him to get a finish here. On DraftKings, however, Sakai is priced so low that he should get healthy exposure in GPP contests there. Fanduel pricing reduces the value of both fighters, but a measured exposure of both is reasonable in multi-entry contests. Both fighters are capable of scoring high and both are very capable of adding to their knockout totals. For this reason, both sides of this fight should get play, but Overeem is much more likely to win in my opinion.