UFC Fight Night Report: Alistair Overeem vs Augusto Sakai Results
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, the UFC held its first Fight Night event of the month at the UFC APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a fight between ranked heavyweight contenders Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai. Overeem had won three of his last four bouts and was looking to make one final run at UFC gold before walking away from the sport. His opponent, Sakai, came into this fight with a perfect UFC record (4-0), and Overeem would mark the toughest test of his career thus far. In the co-main event, Ovince Saint Preux faced Alonzo Menifield in a light heavyweight matchup.
This was a card that was hit hard by COVID-19 related cancellations. Over the course of the day of the event, multiple fights were canceled or otherwise altered. Thiago Moises was forced to withdraw from his fight against Jalin Turner, and Marcos Rogério de Lima was pulled from his bout against Alexander Romanov. Moises and Rogério de Lima (who are teammates at American Top Team) both tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, Kevin Natividad was removed from his fight with Brian Kelleher and was replaced by Ray Rodriguez. Due to the number of bouts that fell apart on fight day (along with the Eubanks/Rosa fight that fell apart earlier this week), the prelims were scrapped, and the event moved forward as a seven-fight card on ESPN+. At seven fights total, this was the smallest UFC card since the Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale (headlined by Diego Sanchez and Nick Diaz) in 2005.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier. Performance bonuses were awarded to Brian Kelleher, Andre Muniz, Michel Pereira, and Ovince Saint Preux.
*Hunter Azure def. Cole Smith by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Viviane Araujo def. Montana De La Rosa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Brian Kelleher def. Ray Rodriguez by guillotine at 0:39 of Round 1
*Andre Muniz def. Bartosz Fabinski by armbar at 2:42 of Round 1
*Michel Pereira def. Zelim Imadaev by rear-naked choke at 4:39 of Round 3
*Ovince Saint Preux def. Alonzo Menifield by KO at 4:07 of Round 2
*Alistair Overeem def. Augusto Sakai by TKO at 0:26 of Round 5
HUNTER AZURE (8-1, 135.5) VS COLE SMITH (7-1, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Smith was throwing a high output of kicks in the opening minute of this fight, and Azure capitalized on this, timing a takedown as Smith was off balance. Smith worked his way back his feet, but Azure caught him with a huge 1-2 that knocked Smith down. Smith recovered, and landed an elbow that knocked Azure’s mouthpiece out, but was promptly taken back to the ground. Smith escaped the position and separated from the clinch to end the round. 10-9 Azure.
Azure opened up the second round strongly, backing Smith into the cage with a flurry of strikes. This worked out in Smith’s favor, as he took Azure down momentarily. It did not take Azure long to get up, and he easily defended a subsequent attempt from Smith. Azure controlled the grappling exchanges throughout the rest of the round and was clearly up on the scorecards going into the final round.
Smith was a bit more aggressive with his striking to open up the third round, but slipped when he attempted to throw a knee, and Azure brought him back to the ground. Smith scrambled into a better position and began to climb up Azure’s back against the cage. He aggressively pursued a rear-naked choke in the final minute of the fight, but Azure defended his attempts, and time expired. 29-28 Azure.
WINNER: Hunter Azure by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Azure dropped Smith early, and that set the tone for the majority of this bout. He fought a smart fight, and while Smith rallied late, Azure did everything he needed to in order to secure the first two rounds. Azure is now 2-1 in the UFC.
MONTANA DE LA ROSA (11-5, 125.5) VS VIVIANE ARAUJO (8-2, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Araujo was putting the pressure on early, attacking the body with straight rights, and Araujo’s lead leg with constant leg kicks. As the round wore on, De La Rosa’s movement was clearly compromised by the damage done to her legs. She was continuously getting tagged by overhand rights from Araujo as well. Araujo defended a body lock attempt from De La Rosa to end the round. 10-9 Araujo.
The second round started off similarly to the first. Araujo’s leg kicks were the difference-maker, but she looked like the more competent striker in every aspect. De La Rosa landed a strong right hand though, which was her best moment of the fight thus far. Araujo returned the favor with a looping right hand of her own, and De La Rosa’s face was busted up by the midway point of the round. By the end of the round, the strike count was close to even, but I thought Araujo was landing the better shots throughout, and clearly did more significant damage.
Araujo was lunging in from a distance, and thus, was missing in more dramatic fashion than the previous rounds. Still, both women were tired, and this made for a very close round. Neither fighter was really throwing in combination at this point, but both were landing hard shots when they did connect. I thought this was the closest round of the fight, but Araujo was still landing the biggest shots in my mind, and I scored the fight 30-27 in her favor.
WINNER: Viviane Araujo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
If you looked at the stats from this fight, I daresay every category would be razor close, but the numbers don’t take into account the differential in power. Araujo looked fantastic for the vast majority of the fight and did significant damage with her boxing, as well as her leg kicks. Araujo expressed her interest in returning to the octagon come December. She is now 3-1 in the UFC.
BRIAN KELLEHER (21-11, 146) VS RAY RODRIGUEZ (16-6, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Rodriguez shot for a takedown in the opening thirty seconds of the fight, and was immediately caught in a guillotine choke by Kelleher. Rodriguez submitted, and Kelleher picked up the first-round submission.
WINNER: Brian Kelleher by guillotine at 0:39 of Round 1
This was more or less the expected result, given that Rodriguez took this fight today, but it was an impressive win nonetheless for Brian Kelleher. Kelleher stated he would like to fight again this year, preferably at bantamweight. He called out Pedro Munhoz, but personally, I’d rather see him against Ricky Simon, which was the originally scheduled bout for this card.
BARTOSZ FABINSKI (15-3, 184.5) VS ANDRE MUNIZ (19-4, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Fabinski ate some shots entering the clinch, but he succeeded and attempted to drag Muniz down against the cage. Fabinski eventually got him down, but Muniz feinted a triangle attempt, and as Fabinski adjusted to defend himself, he got caught by an armbar and was forced to tap out.
WINNER: Andre Muniz by armbar at 2:42 of Round 1
Muniz looked slick on the ground, transitioning from a guillotine attempt to a triangle, to the armbar that finished the fight in a matter of seconds. This was a far more impressive performance than his first outing in the UFC (a unanimous decision victory against Antonio Arroyo), and his grappling ability makes him a middleweight prospect to look out for. He is now 2-0 in the promotion.
MICHEL PEREIRA (23-11, 2 NC, 170.5) VS ZELIM IMADAEV (8-2, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Pereira tagged Imadaev with a left hand early and caught him with a clean right not long thereafter. He landed a knee to the head, and connected with another right hand, before attempting a showtime kick. Pereira knocked Imadaev down with a strong right hand with about a minute left in the round. He landed a few body shots to end the round. 10-9 Pereira.
Pereira was really mixing up his attacks in the second round. At one point he went for a summersault kick or something? Imadaev was having trouble getting anything to go for him. Pereira’s right hand continued to find its home, and he was really working Imadaev’s body. He landed a combination of solid body shots to end the round strongly yet again. 20-18 Pereira.
Pereira continued to dominate this fight in the third round. He hurt Imadaev with a superman punch, and he caught him with a solid overhand slap, presumably to get a measure of revenge for the faceoffs yesterday. Imadaev had nothing to offer him in this fight, and he was taking a beating here. Pereira was taunting, and fighting with his hands behind his back. With thirty seconds remaining in the fight, Pereira slammed Imadaev to the ground with a belly to back suplex, and he immediately secured a rear-naked choke. There was some controversy regarding the stoppage, as it was unclear whether Imadaev tapped out, or was fighting the hands, but one way or the other, the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Michel Pereira by rear-naked choke at 4:39 of Round 3
Pereira dominated Imadaev in this fight. Pereira seemed intent on humiliating Imadaev here and was largely successful. He is one of the most unique and entertaining fighters in the world today, and I hope he never changes his style. As long as Pereira keeps fighting as he does, he’ll have a job for as long as he wants one.
In regards to the finish, I honestly don’t think Imadaev tapped, which could potentially create some controversy regarding the official result of this fight in the future. That being said, a controversial stoppage doesn’t always mean they should run the fight back either. This one was far too one-sided to justify a rematch. Pereira called out Jorge Masvidal in his post-fight interview, which seems… unlikely, but I suppose you can’t fault the man for shooting his shot.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX (24-14, 205.5) VS ALONZO MENIFIELD (9-1, 204) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Menifield was fighting aggressively out of the gates. Saint Preux landed a pair of straight left hands. He began to unload with some powerful kicks to the body later in the round. Menifield seemed to be having difficulties getting a read on Saint Preux, and aside from the opening seconds of the bout, his output was extremely low throughout the round. Menifield began to let his hands go as time expired, but it wasn’t enough to win him the round.
OSP continued to be the busier fighter in the second round. Saint Preux threw a ton of kicks throughout the round, which kept Menifield at bay. Menifield’s offensive output continued to be very low, and just as he started to let his hands go, he walked right into a counter left hook from OSP that knocked him out.
WINNER: Ovince Saint Preux by KO at 4:07 of Round 2
Ovince Saint Preux controlled the pace of the fight, and just as Menifield began to unload, OSP connected with the perfect shot to end the fight. Walk-off knockouts always look great, and this was another highlight finish to add to the reel for Ovince Saint Preux. OSP has won two of his last five fights.
ALISTAIR OVEREEM (46-18, 1 NC, 252.5) VS AUGUSTO SAKAI (15-1-1, 261.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Overeem blitzed forward early, and Sakai did a good job of backing Overeem off with a right hand. Sakai landed a solid kick to the body and followed it up with an uppercut when Overeem shelled up. He flurried forward, and they tested each other in the clinch, eventually disengaging after meeting a stalemate. Overeem connected with a right hand that seemed to stumble Sakai. Sakai responded with another uppercut. This was a close round, but I gave the edge to Sakai.
Sakai flurried early in the second round, a sequence that we saw a couple of times over the course of the first round. Overeem caught Sakai with a body shot. Sakai flurried forward once again and landed a number of shots in combination as Overeem shelled up against the cage. They exchanged knee’s in the clinch. Sakai had his back to the cage but landed a pair of solid elbows that convinced Overeem to back away. Another close round.
Sakai continued to be the busier fighter in the third round. He landed a counter right hand as Overeem swarmed in, that Overeem just ate. Once again, Sakai’s flurries were the difference-maker, and it was tough to determine whether Overeem was letting Sakai gas himself out, or if he simply didn’t have an answer to these combinations. Overeem brought Sakai to the ground with a minute and a half remaining in the round but was unable to get much going. He did land a solid hammerfist before the round ended, and Sakai was cut open. 29-28 Sakai.
Overeem opted to keep the fight on the feet to begin the fourth, and Sakai took advantage by getting back to what was working for him in the previous rounds. Sakai landed a solid elbow that opened up Overeem on his forehead. Overeem responded with a spinning kick that connected low, and the action was paused. Overeem took Sakai down with two minutes left on the clock. Overeem’s ground and pound attacks were very effective here, and Sakai gave up his back in an attempt to avoid more big shots. Overeem landed a number of brutal elbows to end the round, and this was the clearest round of the fight thus far. I had it all tied up at 38-38 going into the fifth and final round.
Overeem immediately dragged him right back to the ground to begin the fifth round. He landed a trio of elbows, as well as a pair of hammer fists, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Alistair Overeem by TKO at 0:26 of Round 5
On the feet, these two were very evenly matched, but the second Overeem found out just how big the grappling discrepancy as between the two, the fight changed. Overeem’s ground and pound strikes were brutal, and I hope he uses his grappling more in future fights. He’s a much better grappler then the vast majority of the heavyweight division, and fights such as this one, or his first-round stoppage of Sergei Pavlovich, serve as reminders of just how devastating his ground and pound can be. I’d like to see him fight Derrick Lewis, regardless of the result of Lewis’s upcoming fight with Curtis Blaydes. Overeem has won four of his last five fights.