This weekend, the UFC remains at the APEX Center for UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Sakai on Saturday, September 5th. Prelims begin at 5:00pm and the main card kicks off at 7:00pm CST. Here, we will breakdown each of those main card matchups, give the current betting odds and our picks for how we predict each of those fights going down! Last week, betting favorites prevailed in 10/10 matchups, and we feel like this main card certainly does not look good for the dogs. However, on a card that’s as balanced as this Saturday’s, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an underdog or two getting the nod.
Betting odds per Bovada on the preliminary card as of September 1st are as follows:
Cole Smith (+180) vs. Hunter Azure (-225)
Alexander Romanov (-120) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-110)
Montana de La Rosa (+150) vs. Viviane Araujo (-185)
Andre Muniz (+120) vs. Bartosz Fabinski (-150)
Thiago Moisés (13-4) vs. Jalin Turner (9-5)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Jalin Turner (+150), Thiago Moises (-185)
First up on the main card is Brazil’s Thiago Moises vs. Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner. Moises is making his 5th UFC appearance by way of the Contender series. He’s 2-2 in the UFC with wins over Kurt Holobaugh and most recently Michael Johnson. Moises is 13-4, and in those 4 defeats he’s yet to be finished. Much like Moises, Jalin Turner is making his 5th walk to the Octagon. Turner too, got his shot through the Contender series (defeating Pensacola’s Max Mustaki in that matchup). And, Turner is also 2-2 in the UFC. This is a well-matched bout, with both of these guys having faced stout UFC competition since their debuts with the organization (Moises debuted against Beneil Dariush and Turner debuted against Vicente Luque).
Our pick: Moises, KO/TKO
Kevin Natividad (9-1) vs. Brian Kelleher (21-11)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Brian Kelleher (-225), Kevin Natividad (+175)
Brian Kelleher was originally scheduled to face Ricky Simon in this one, but one of Simon’s cornermen tested positive for Covid-19 and Kevin Natividad got the short-notice call up. Natividad, fighting out of Tempe, Arizona, is making his UFC debut after winning 4 straight with LFA (Legacy Fighting Alliance). Kelleher enters the fight as the biggest favorite on an exceptionally well-matched card. Kelleher debuted at UFC 252 with a Performance of the Night guillotine win over Iuri Alcântara, but has since gone 4-4 in the UFC. That being said, I think Kelleher has a serious edge in experience, and if there’s an upset to be had on this night, I don’t think we’ll see it here.
Our pick: Kelleher, submission
Michel Pereira (23-11-0, 2NC) vs. Zelim Imadaev (8-2)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Michel Pereira (-120), Zelim Imadaev (-110)
In what looks to be a pick ’em, Brazil’s Michel Pereira takes on Russia’s Zelim Imadaev. After a promising 8-0 start to his career and an opportunity with the big show, Zelim Imadaev has fallen short in his first 2 with the UFC – a majority decision loss to Max Griffin back at UFC 236, and most recently a second-round KO to Danny Roberts. Michel Pereira will be making his way to the Octagon for the fourth time. After a Performance of the Night flying knee knockout of Danny Roberts in his UFC debut in May of last year, Pereira has lost his last 2 – a unanimous decision to Tristan Connelly last September and that DQ from the illegal knee to Diego Sanchez back in February. With both fighters trying to avoid a 3-fight skid, this might be a scrap for survival and the winner making their best case to remain with the UFC.
Our pick: Pereira, decision
Sijara Eubanks (6-4) vs. Karol Rosa (13-3)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Karol Rosa (-140), Sijara Eubanks (+110)
Next up on the main card is Sijara Eubanks vs. Brazil’s Karol Rosa. Eubanks, the Ultimate Fighter contestant, began her UFC career with wins over Lauren Murphy and Roxanne Modafferi, but she’s gone 1-2 since. Rosa is 2-0 with the UFC, and she’s entering the cage Saturday on a 4 fight win streak. Both of these fighters have yet to get a finish in the UFC, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one went to a decision as well.
Our pick: Rosa, decision
Ovince St. Preux (24-14) vs. Alonzo Menifield (9-1)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Alonzo Menifield (-140), Ovince St. Preux (+110)
In the co-main event, we’ve got Ovince St. Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield. This fight was supposed to happen on August 22nd, but was postponed due to St. Preux testing positive for Covid-19. OSP has been in the UFC since 2013 by way of Strikeforce. After going 7-2 in his first 9 UFC appearances, OSP’s career has stalled out, going 5-7 in his next 12 (Overall UFC 12-9). Specifically as of late, hes fallen short in 4 out of his last 6. That being said, he hasn’t been losing to just anybody – those 4 losses came at the hands of Ilir Latifi, Dominick Reyes, Nikita Krylov and most recently Ben Rothwell. Alonzo Menifield (9-1), made his way to the UFC through the Contender Series. He suffered his first loss back on June 6th, in a decision to Devin Clark, but he had a huge first-round KO over Paul Craig in the fight before. Menifield is 2-1 in the UFC, and he and St. Preux are on completely opposite trajectories in their careers. I think Menifield rebounds and gets a big win here!
Our pick: Menifield, KO/TKO
Alistair Overeem (46-18-0, 1NC) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-1-1)
Bovada odds as of 9/1: Alistair Overeem (-155), Augusto Sakai (+125)
In the main event, K-1, Pride, Strikeforce and UFC legend Alistair Overeem takes on UFC up-and-comer Augusto Sakai. Overeem, whose resume extends back to 1999, will be touching gloves in an MMA matchup for the 66th time this Saturday. At 40 years of age, Overeem is certainly on the back end of his career. That being said, he is still fighting, and often beating, absolute monsters in the UFC Heavyweight division. Since 2014, Overeem has gone 9-4, and he’s bested Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, JDS, Andrei Arlovski, Mark Hunt, Fabricio Werdum, Sergei Pavlovich, Alexey Oleynik and most recently Walt Harris. In that same time frame, he’s received losses from Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. If that list of opponents doesn’t scream UFC Hall of Fame, I don’t know what does. Brazil’s Augusto Sakai is entering the Octagon for the fifth time, and outside of a split-decision loss to Cheick Kongo at Bellator 179, he is unbeaten in his 9 year career. He has notable UFC victories over Chase Sherman, Andrei Arlovski, and most recently Blagoy Ivanov. This will be Sakai’s first headliner with the UFC, and Overeem’s 4th in a row, so it will be interesting to see how Sakai performs in championship rounds if the fight extends that long. Considering that Sakai couldn’t knock out Andrei Arlovski back in April of last year, I don’t expect him to KO Overeem.
Our pick: Overeem, decision
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @fightsportfocus. Also, subscribe to the Fight Sport Focus podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!