On Saturday, September 15th, the UFC heads to Russia for the first time. The timing makes sense, with over 25 active Russian fighters spread throughout the UFC’s roster and their top athlete, Khabib Nurmagomedov, looking to make his first title defense against Conor McGregor next month in what many are calling the biggest fight in the sports’ history. A successful show this weekend will likely bring more events to Russia in the future. Let’s take a look at the top two main card fights that Russian fans have the opportunity to see in person.
Mark Hunt vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
The main event of UFC: Moscow features two veteran heavyweights that have continued to defy the odds over the years. Mark Hunt and Oleksiy Oliynky are both in their 40’s with a combined 95 professional MMA fights in their careers. Though each man has vastly different fighting styles, they both enter in this bout with a similar sense of urgency.
Mark Hunt is without a doubt one of the most respected fighters on the UFC’s roster. He entered the promotion with a 5-6 MMA record, and most experts felt his time in combat sports was coming to an end. Less than three years later, Hunt was riding a four-fight win streak and eventually earned his way into a heavyweight title shot. Since then, he’s alternated wins and losses against the top fighters in the division. Hunt’s age will always be called into question, but he remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the world and has the power to win against anyone on any given night.
Ukranian-Russian fighter Oleksiy Oliynik had accumulated a 51-9
-1 record fighting in Europe by the time he made his UFC debut. Some felt his shot in the big leagues came too late, but he proved the doubters wrong by winning his first two fights inside one round. Since then he’s gone 3-2, utilizing his unorthodox submission game to tapout Viktor Pesta, Travis Browne, and Junior Albini.
This feels like an old-school striker vs. grappler matchup. Hunt will be looking for his patented walk-off knockout shot, while Oliynik aims to earn his fifth submission win in eight UFC bouts. Most DFS sites are listing Hunt as the favorite here, but in the heavyweight division, anything can happen.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Nikita Krylov
The co-main event of this Saturday’s card in Moscow features a 205 pound clash between dangerous strikers Jan Blachowicz and Nikita Krylov. The light-division division is in limbo right now while champion Daniel Cormier awaits a heavyweight bout with Brock Lesnar, making this fight an important one if either man wants to cement their place in the top 10.
Blachowicz’s spot on the UFC roster looked to be in jeopardy back in mid-2017 after losing four out of five fights. He rebounded later in the year with an impressive win over Devin Clark, and has won two more fights since. The Polish striker seems to have finally found his groove in the Octagon, and could earn himself a main-event fight with a win on Saturday.
Nikita Krylov actually began his career as a heavyweight in the UFC, despite being one of the smallest fighters in the division. He moved down to 205 pounds in March of 2014, and has since gone 9-2. Krylov is making his UFC return after four fights in the regional circuit, and is the slight favorite heading into this bout after capturing the light-heavyweight championship in the Fight Nights Global promotion.
Both of these fighters rely primarily on their striking ability to win fights. Blachowicz showed an improvement in his grappling since losing to Patrick Cummins back in April of 2017, which could be a key to victory against Krylov. Either way, this fight has fireworks written all over it.
Many of the top Russian fighters in the UFC will also be fighting in their home country on Saturday. Let us know who you think wins both the main and co-main events on Saturday, and head to DraftKings to check out the contests offered for this historic event.