The UFC Octagon was in Las Vegas on Saturday for UFC Vegas 9 headlined by a heavyweight bout between contenders Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai. Positive COVID-19 tests dwindled the fight card down to seven bouts. Two matches were scrapped from the fight card hours before the event.
The 40-year old Overeem entered the bout ranked No. 5 in the heavyweight division. Leading up to the fight, he spoke about knowing that he’s racing against time to get back to a title bout. Sakai was riding a six-fight winning streak looking to move into contender status.
There was a feeling out process in the opening round but the action quickly picked up. After an exchange, the two clinched and battled along the cage delivering knees to the body. Once they separated, Overeem connected with a right hand that halted Sakai’s forward movement. In the closing seconds of the round, Sakai landed an uppercut.
Most of the second round played out in the clinch position. Both fighters delivered knees to the body. Sakai created enough space to connect with an elbow. The first two frames were competitive and difficult to score.
In the third round, Overeem decided to get the fight to the ground. He powered Sakai to the canvas and delivered hammer fists and punches. The momentum of the fight had changed in Overeem’s favor. In the fourth round, Overeem scored a takedown midway through the frame. He battered Sakai with punches and elbows.
In the final round, Overeem quickly took Sakai down and went back to mauling him. He connected with punches and elbows. Sakai rolled but couldn’t defend himself so referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the action.
“We all considered Augusto a tough guy, an up can comer, so we kind of knew that he was going to take the punishment. I was very well prepared and we did it again, at 40-years of age,” Overeem said after the win.
Overeem said that he wants to take a short break during his post-fight interview, but it won’t be a long one. “The Reem” expects to be back in the cage later this year or early 2021.
“A little bit of a break, but we’ll be maybe back in action later this year or early next year for sure,” he said.
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In the co-main event, light heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux faced Alonzo Menifield. The two were scheduled to meet on August 22 but Saint Preux was removed from the fight card the day of the event after testing positive to COVID-19. The match was rescheduled for Saturday and you wouldn’t have known Saint Preux had tested positive to COVID-19 two weeks ago by his performance.
In the opening round, Menifield took the fight to Saint Preux but Saint Preux settled in and began to dictate the distance. He kept Menifield on the outside with front kicks to the body and a reach advantage. Staint Preux landed his right hand repeatedly.
Menifield had troubled getting on the inside where he could utilize his boxing pedigree. In the second round, he rushed it and paid the price. Menifield pressed forward and Saint Preux connected with left hand while backing up that sent Menifield face down on the canvas. There was no need for any follow-up shots.
“I’ve been training hard, put a lot of miles in. I took up a new sport, mountain biking, and that helped out a lot,” Saint Preux said after the win. “Everything worked out perfectly.”
Saint Preux emerged from the fight without taking damage and would like a quick turnaround. How quick is up to the UFC matchmakers.
“Let’s try next week. I’m trying to get another fight definitely this year, though, definitely this year. I’m feeling good. I feel so good right now it’s crazy,” he said.