The UFC octagon lands in mainland China for UFC Fight Night 141 as a quartet of heavyweights get set to do battle for bragging rights in Beijing.
THE MAIN EVENT
It’s wrestler versus striker in a heavy-handed rematch as American Curtis “Razor” Blaydes takes on French knockout machine Francis “The Predator” Ngannou, and both men are heading into the contest looking to prove a point.
Blaydes was stopped on his stool between rounds by the doctor after their first fight in Zagreb, Croatia after taking a two-round shellacking at the hands of Ngannou.
That fight was his UFC debut and nerves may have played a part in that performance, as he has looked superb since then as he’s moved his way up to the sharp end of the UFC’s heavyweight division. He’s adamant that things will be different second time around.
Ngannou, meanwhile, has his own redemption story to chase. The Cameroon-born Frenchman surged up the heavyweight division and earned a shot at the UFC heavyweight title, held at the time by Stipe Miocic.
But for all of the hype over Ngannou’s spectacular punch power, Miocic totally bossed their title fight at UFC 220, sapping Ngannou’s gas tank and badly exposing his shortcomings in a one-sided decision victory.
Ngannou then took part in one of the most boring heavyweight fights in UFC history, as his reluctance to engage with Derrick Lewis at UFC 226 meant their hotly-anticipated clash turned into a total dud.
Now on a two-fight skid, Ngannou is desperate not just for a win, but for a spectacular performance as he looks to re-establish his credentials as one of the most dangerous big men in the UFC.
Ngannou is the betting underdog, but if he can rediscover his aggressive style from his earlier UFC appearances, he has the power to win the fight by knockout (12/5). But you can’t ignore current form, and Blaydes’ evolving game and dominant wrestling skillset should stand him in good stead, with a decision win looking excellent value at 9/2.
To win: 2/5
To win by KO/TKO: EVENS
To win by Points: 9/2
To win by Submission: 10/1
To win: 7/4
To win by KO/TKO: 12/5
To win by Points: 14/1
To win by Submission: 22/1
If victory is crucial for Ngannou in the main event, defeat for Dutch heavyweight Alistair Overeem in the night’s co-main event is absolutely unthinkable.
The British-born Dutchman has captured a host of titles in a glittering career, but a UFC world title has eluded him. And on Saturday he takes part in the 62nd fight of his professional MMA career as he faces undefeated Russian newcomer Sergey Pavlovich.
Former Fight Nights Global heavyweight champ Pavlovich arrives in the UFC with a 12-0 record and the chance to claim a huge scalp on his debut.
It’s a crossroads fight for Overeem and a shot at the big time for Pavlovich. Experience should prevail for ‘The Reem’, but he’s been stopped decisively in his last two bouts. Can he stop the rot against an undefeated debutant? He’s an 11/10 shot to do so, but given the Dutchman’s run of stoppage losses, the 6/5 on a Pavlovich KO/TKO win looks the more likely outcome.
To win: 11/10
To win by KO/TKO: 7/2
To win by Points: 4/1
To win by Submission: 12/1
To win: 4/6
To win by KO/TKO: 6/5
To win by Points: 5/1
To win by Submission: 17/1