UFC Fight Night 176: Overeem v Sakai Preview and Picks

Sean McBryan previews this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 176 and shares his picks, including his thoughts on Overeem v Sakai in the main event.

UFC Fight Night 176 takes place this Saturday, September 5 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas headlined by veteran Alistair Overeem and up-and-coming Brazilian Augusto Sakai battling in a heavyweight main event.

The event features Ovince Saint Preux versus Alonzo Menifield in the co-main event, a match that was moved to this card due to Preux previously testing positive for COVID-19. Many other fights on this card have been affected due to the virus. Ottman Azaitar and Khama Worthy will face off in a prelim lightweight bout after it was rescheduled from April due to coronavirus. Brian Kelleher is now expected to face Kevin Natividad in a bantamweight match after Ricky Simon was pulled from the card due to one of his coaches testing positive for COVID-19. Other changes are likely as we continue to get through the week.

As of right now, here is the full card for Saturday on ESPN+:

Brian Kelleher (21-11) vs. Kevin Natividad (9-1), featherweight

Prelims (beginning at 6 p.m.):

  • Cole Smith (7-1) vs. Hunter Azure (8-1), bantamweight
  • Alexander Romanov (11-0) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1), heavyweight
  • Viviane Araujo (8-2) vs. Montana De La Rosa (11-5), women’s flyweight
  • Andre Muniz (19-4) vs. Bartosz Fabinski (15-3), middleweight
  • Ottman Azaitar (12-0) vs. Khama Worthy (16-6), lightweight

Main Card (beginning at 8 p.m.):

  • Thiago Moises (13-4) vs. Jalin Turner (9-5), lightweight
  • Michel Pereira (23-11) vs. Zelim Imadaev (8-2), welterweight
  • Sijara Eubanks (6-4) vs. Karol Rosa (13-3), women’s bantamweight
  • Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs. Alonzo Menifield (9-1), light heavyweight
  • Alistair Overeem (46-18) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-1-1), heavyweight

Let’s move past the specifics and get to what is really important: bets. If you’re a bet-on-prelims type of person, it might be better to avoid it this time. The biggest moneyline favorite, courtesy of FanDuel, is Hunter Azure (-196). Romanov (-116), Araujo (-178) and Fabinski (-162) are the slight favorites in their respective bouts. Azaitar and Worthy are both at -110 and the Kelleher-Natividad fight doesn’t have odds yet since it hasn’t officially been announced.

If you don’t care and still want to place some prelim bets, Azure (-196), a Dana White contender series alum, is a pretty solid choice. He is coming off a TKO loss to Kelleher in May, but Smith (+164) is coming off a decision loss in September. Azure is dropping down to bantamweight after usually fighting at featherweight for the fight. Prediction: Azure by decision.

Alexander Romanov (-116) makes his UFC debut, after his last bout was cancelled due to COVID-19, as a favorite against Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-102). Romanov has finished all 11 of his fights before the bell in a variety of methods. Rogerio de Lima has alternated wins and losses in his last eight fights and is coming off a win. Prediction: Romanov by KO.

The 25-year-old Montana De La Rosa (+150), an Ultimate Fighter reality show alum, has compiled a 4-1 record in the UFC since competing in season six. She’s coming off a decision victory over Mara Romera Borella in February. Viviane Araujo (-178) hopes to overcome a decision loss to Jessica Eye in December. She had won five consecutive bouts before that. Prediction: Araujo by decision.

Bartosz Fabinski (-162) is favored in his middleweight bout against Andre Muniz (+132). Muniz has won his past five fights including his UFC debut decision victory over Antonio Arroyo in November after participating in Dana White’s contender series in 2018 and 2019. Fabinski won his last fight by decision and is 3-1 in the UFC. Five of Fabinski’s past six fights have been decided by the judges, the only exception being a loss by guillotine choke to Michael Prazeres in November of 2018. Prediction: Fabinski by decision.

Khama Worthy (-110) and Ottman Azaitar (-110) come in at an even split. Azaitar puts his undefeated record on the line against Worthy, who has won his past seven fights. Worthy’s fights have ended before the final bell 18 times out of his 22 fights. Azaitar has had only one fight go the distance. Worthy holds the height and reach advantages, each by three inches. Prediction: Worthy by KO.

On to the main card we go.

Thiago Moises (-200) and Jalin Turner (+168) get the main card started in a light heavyweight matchup. Turner holds a six-inch height advantage. Moises has never been KO’d or submitted in his 17 professional fights. He has six submission victories. Three of Turner’s five losses have been by KO or TKO, but he’s coming off a stoppage victory in February. Prediction: Moises by submission.

The similarities between Michel Pereira (-110) and Zelim Imadaev (-110) start with the identical odds. Both fighters are relatively young too, with Pereira coming in at 27 and Imadaev 25. Both fighters have also lost their past two fights. Pereira lost a decision to Tristan Connelly in September before being disqualified for an illegal knee against Diego Sanchez in February. Imadaev lost a majority decision to Max Griffin in April of 2019 and a KO loss to Danny Roberts in November. The decision loss to Griffin is the only fight that has gone the distance for Imadaev as he has won or lost by TKO/KO in nine of his 10 pro fights. Pereira has won 10 of his 34 fights by TKO/KO and six by submission. Imadaev has a slight reach advantage while Pereira has a slight height advantage. Prediction: Pereira by decision.

Sijara Eubanks (+116) is 10 years Karol Rosa’s (-142) senior. Rosa is riding a four-fight win streak, her last two coming by decision. Rosa hasn’t been knocked out, but has lost two fights by submission. That isn’t Eubanks game as she tends to strike. Prediction: Rosa by decision.

Ovince Saint Preux (+115) moves back down to light heavyweight for his bout against Alonzo Menifield (-135) in the co-main event. Menifield lost his last bout in June by unanimous decision to Devin Clark. Before that, he had won eight fights by TKO/KO and one by submission. Saint

Preux lost a split decision to Ben Rothwell in May and was 2-3 in his five fights before that. OSP holds height and reach advantage and is five years older than Menifield. Prediction: Saint Preux by KO.

To the headliner we go.

Alistair Overeem (-176) is a slight favorite over Augusto Sakai (+142) in the main event. Overeem is a UFC mainstay with over 60 professional fights and matches against the biggest names in the heavyweight division. Sakai is on a six-fight win streak, but hasn’t fought anybody with Overeem’s skill or experience. Overeem has more KO victories (24) than Sakai has fights (17). Having said that, Sakai has won 11 of his 15 victories by KO. I don’t see this one going the distance. Prediction: Overeem by KO.

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