Don't call Alistair Overeem washed up just yet. The veteran notched a big win over Augusto Sakai to close out UFC Fight Night 176 from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
The first round between the sluggers played out like a high-stakes chess match. Neither fighter wanted to commit too much, and the respect that each had for the power of their opponent was evident. However, Sakai did attack in two- to three-shot bursts that landed between the two exchanging kicks from range.
The second round featured much more clinch work from both fighters. Sakai was more aggressive as he continued to pick his spots and flurry with hooks and knees from close quarters. Overeem answered with single shots and carefully placed counters.
Sakai opened things up even more in Round 3. Many of the strikes were blocked, but he just kept coming in bursts anyway.
Overeem finished the round strong as he got on top of his opponent. He brought grappling into the bout and held the upper hand as he did some damage with the dominant position.
The latter half of that round would turn out to be a harbinger of things to come. The Reem landed a single leg takedown in the fourth round and took over the fight with his ground-and-pound again, including elbows that bloodied Sakai's face.
The fifth round was heading in the same direction as Overeem repeated the process and landed four elbows to the head before Herb Dean decided he had seen enough and called the fight.
Overeem has now four of his last five fights. The lone loss came at the hands of Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a fight that the veteran was winning before he was knocked out with four seconds left. The 40-year-old continues to show that he still has something left to give in the cage.
The former Pride and Strikeforce star has never captured the UFC title but keeps those dreams alive with yet another win.
UFC Fight Night 175 Results
- Alistair Overeem def. Augusto Sakai via fifth-round TKO
- Ovince Saint Preux def. Alonzo Menifield via second-round knockout
- Michel Pereira def. Zelim Imadaev via third-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Andre Muniz def. Bartosz Fabinski via first-round submission (armbar)
- Brian Kelleher def. Ray Rodriguez via first-round submission (guillotine choke)
- Viviane Araujo def. Montana De La Rosa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Hunter Azure def. Cole Smith via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ovince Saint Preux def. Alonzo Menifield
At some point, every power-punching prospect learns there's more to striking than just looking to land that one punch. Ovince Saint Preux taught Alonzo Menifield that lesson in the co-main event.
It wasn't always pretty, but OSP spent the majority of the first round establishing the distance between himself and Menifield with repeated kicks to the body. Saint Preux stayed on the outside as the bigger fighter and forced his younger opponent to figure out how to close the distance.
In the second round, the veteran got exactly what he wanted. Menifield finally lunged forward to throw a combination when OSP slipped in a perfect counter left hand that sent his opponent to the mat.
The loss is a bitter disappointment for Menifield. He has looked like a promising prospect, but this is his second loss in a row. He lost a decision to Devin Clark and has some things to work on after this knockout loss.
For OSP, this is his first fight back in the light heavyweight division after an unsuccessful attempt to move to heavyweight.
Michel Pereira def. Zelim Imadaev
Michel Pereira doesn't have boring fights. That maxim held true once again in welterweight action as the Brazilian snapped a two-fight win streak with a late submission win over Zelim Imadaev.
Pereira showcased a little bit of everything. From big slams to a straight-up slap. The dynamic and versatile striker added some more highlights to an already crammed reel before finally sinking in the choke.
There was some controversy over whether Imadaev actually tapped from the submission or if he was simply fighting for wrist control. However, it did appear that Pereira was heading to a decision win.
Pereira has to be letting a sigh of relief go. He came into the night with a two-fight losing streak, including a disqualification against Diego Sanchez thanks to an illegal knee.
Win or lose, Pereira likely has a secure spot on the UFC roster as long as he continues to put on fun fights like the one he had on Saturday night.
Andre Muniz def. Bartosz Fabinski
It's been just over a year since Andre Muniz earned a UFC contract with a first-round submission on Dana White's Contender Series. Against Bartosz Fabinski it was deja vu all over again as he utilized an armbar to draw the tap and get a first-round submission once again.
While Fabinski was trying to land ground-and-pound in Muniz's guard, the Brazilian initially attempted a triangle choke before switching to an armbar.
it was a smooth demonstration of Muniz's jiu-jitsu. The 30-year-old is now 2-0 in the UFC. He made his debut in Nov. 2019 with a decision win over Antonio Arroyo. This win was a little more indicative of the kind of grappling that got him here.
Muniz has 13 career submissions and now owns a six-fight win streak. Fabinski is a dangerous striker, so it would have been interesting to see how he would have handled him on the feet, but for now, this was a good example of what Muniz can do when he plays to his strengths.
Brian Kelleher def. Ray Rodriguez
No notice, no problem for Brian Kelleher. On a card that was marked by last-second changes, Brian Kelleher endured not one, but two opponent changes and still scored a win in under a minute in Las Vegas.
Kelleher was originally scheduled to fight Ricky Simon, then had promotional newcomer Kevin Natividad step up on short notice only to have him withdraw Friday. So Ray Rodriguez stepped up to make his UFC debut.
Unfortunately for him, he must not have been aware of Kelleher's tight squeeze on his guillotine chokes. He waded into deep waters right away by walking right into the submission.
Kelleher solicited the tap to get his third win of 2020 and his 10th career submission. A loss to Cody Stamann is the only blemish on his record this year after back-to-back losses in 2018 and no fights in 2019.