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Savitsky: Fighting Alexey Oleynik Is The Best Decision For Cain Velasquez

If Velasquez is looking for redemption, he needs to fight Oleynik, writes Oleg ‘Alec’ Savitsky

By Oleg ‘Alec’ Savitsky

In the recent ESPN analysis of Cain Velasquez’ loss to Francis Ngannou, while discussing what the future holds for the former champion once considered the best heavyweight ever, Brett Okamoto suggested Alexey Oleynik would be the best option. The truth is — this matchup is a necessary fight for everyone – the UFC, MMA fans, and Velasquez himself.

Okamoto suggested that Velasquez should fight Oleynik because he will be a “manageable” opponent. I hold the opinion that if Velasquez wants to redeem himself, he must fight Oleynik. But not because Oleynik is “manageable” or easier, but precisely because Oleynik is dangerous. Alexey is well-rounded and the most experienced in the division. It’s a live or die situation for Velasquez and the fight against Alexey will reveal to Velasquez and the MMA world if he still has the skills and determination to become the dominant heavyweight he once was.

Perhaps, Cain was out of competition for too long, and shouldn’t have taken the fight against Ngannou, the most dangerous striker in the division. Perhaps, it was a combination of nagging injuries, lost confidence, poor fight strategy or the famous “cage rust” caused by prolonged inactivity that caused Velasquez, once known for his heavy hands, superior wrestling, and conditioning, to lose the fight in under 30 seconds. But they are not the reasons why now Velasquez should “step back” and take a fight with someone like Alexey Oleynik.

Fighting anyone in the top 10 of the division is risky business. A fight against Oleynik is the fight Velasquez must have, but for totally different reasons.

Previously, Velasquez lost to Fabricio Werdum and showed his vulnerability in the grappling game. He needs a fight that will display to his fans the “old” dominant Velasquez who was able to dismantle any type of fighter. To do that, the UFC needs to provide him with a well-rounded and credible opponent. Since Werdum is suspended and a rematch is out of the question, it would be a great opportunity for the No. 7 ranked Velasquez to fight Oleynik, currently ranked No. 9, to prove his relevance and ability to compete against an exceptional grappler. It’s no secret that all top fighters in the heavyweight division are avoiding Oleynik and don’t want to risk their chart position by losing to the superior submission artist. Oleynik, next to Werdum, Frank Mir, and Antonio Nogueira, belongs to the grappling elite of MMA heavyweights.

Alexey has 69 professional fights, with a record of 57 wins, 11 losses, and one tie, and is 6-2-0 in the UFC. He has more wins than majority of fighters, including Velasquez (14-3-0), have fights in their entire MMA careers. Oleynik fought around the world for every top promotion and won against the most notable names in the business. Facing another heavy-handed striker like Velasquez will be nothing new for Oleynik. He fought and submitted some of the best and most feared strikers like Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt. Alexey demonstrated his durability and multi-dimensional skills by out-striking former contender and heavy puncher Travis Browne and by knocking out the brawler Jared Rosholt.

Both Velasquez and Oleynik are well-rounded fighters and pinning them against each other would give MMA fans an exciting fight they deserve to see. It will also test Velasquez and reveal if he still has what it takes or if it’s time for him to stop fighting. For Oleynik, it’s either an opportunity to move closer to his long overdue title shot, continue to fight as a “gatekeeper” for younger talent, or perhaps contemplate a well-deserved retirement.

View the story on MMA Crossfire.

Alexey Oleynik Defeats Mark Hunt in UFC Russia Debut

Alexey Oleynik Taps Mark Hunt in First Round at UFC Fight Night 136

By Mike Sloan

Russian submission savant Alexey Oleynik survived several hairy moments early on but he was able to prevail in front of nearly 20,000 fans in Moscow at UFC Fight Night 136.

Oleynik absorbed several nasty leg kicks from former K-1 Grand Prix world champion Mark Hunt (13-13-1) and was badly wobbled by a laser-like right hand to the head. But “The Boa Constrictor” hung tough and lived up to his nickname by choking out Hunt a few minutes later.

Oleynik (57-11-1) eventually took “The Super Samoan” down, seized his back and locked in the rear-naked choke, forcing Hunt to tap out. The New Zealand native bowed out 4:26 of the first, capping off the card Saturday inside Olimpiysky Arena.

Read the story on Sherdog.

 

Sherdog: 5 Questions for Alexey Oleynik

Roughly a month remains before the Ultimate Fighting Championship touches down in Russia for UFC Fight Night 136. A heavyweight battle between 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt and 41-year-old submission savant Alexey Oleynik will headline the historic event in Moscow.

Oleynik has rattled off 14 wins across his past 16 appearances. He last fought at UFC 224 in May, when he submitted Junior Albini with his patented Ezekiel choke in Rio de Janeiro and improved his record inside the Octagon to 5-2.

In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Oleynik shares his emotions ahead of his next assignment, his thoughts on Hunt and his opinion on hyping fights.

Sherdog: What has the process been like leading up to this event?

Oleynik: I didn’t wait long for an answer about my fight and opponent. After my victory in Brazil, I was asked who I wanted to fight. I said I wanted to fight Fabricio Werdum. He’s the most famous grappler in the world and one of the best. It would have been a tough fight, and I think many fans were looking forward to it. We signed to fight Werdum in Moscow, but the bout was canceled because of his anti-doping violation. Hunt was the only other option with a legendary name, and I agreed to the fight immediately.

Sherdog: What does it mean to you to headline this historic show?

Oleynik: I’m very excited to be in the main event. This is MMA history — it’s the first UFC event in Russia — and I’ll do my best to win. Of course, it means a lot to me but my focus is on the fight so I can perform as well as possible. My wings are no longer growing as strong in my 40s, and this fight is not the first, fifth or 40th of my career (laughs). I’m quite experienced, and I know what to do. You just don’t push past your limits.

Sherdog: Do you think they can fill the card with big names?

Oleynik: I believe Andrei Arlovski is a pretty big name as a three-time UFC champion; he’s on the card. There’s also [Adam] Yandiev. He may not be widely known abroad, but in the (Commonwealth of Independent States), he’s a very popular guy.

Sherdog: Do you think the UFC’s presence will eclipse Russian promotions or increase attention in their favor?

Oleynik: I don’t think the UFC will overshadow all the Russian promotions. You never know how an event will go or how the fighters will perform. Sometimes average promotions may have entertaining fights; they can use those fights for highlights and broadcast them on the Internet and TV. Plus, there are dozens of different organizations, really competitive MMA companies with high-level fighters and fights that serve as steppingstones for younger fighters.

Sherdog: Khabib NurmagomedovConor McGregor is always hot news. McGregor came to the FIFA World Cup final and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How do you feel about the hype?

Oleynik: Hype is the correct word, but on the other hand, it’s part of martial arts and any other sport for that matter. You need those types of things to evaluate public interest in a particular event. They try to figure out whether or not they need to give it a go. They make fame and fortune out of it. For example, Conor and [Floyd] Mayweather made a lot of money, so other fighters want to get as close as they can to Conor in order to make a lot of money. [Nate] Diaz fought dozens of times in the UFC, and his purses never exceeded $40,000 to $50,000. After two fights with Conor, he asked for six figures. You can have 20 fights in the UFC and earn $500,000 or you can get a million for just one fight. Of course, that’s what everyone wants, so they try to make money with hype and trash talk. You can name people who are successful at that and those who aren’t successful at it. Let’s see what happens next.

Read story on Sherdog.com.

Alexey Oleynik talks wanting to fight Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, and UFC first visit to Russia

The only man to win by Ezekiel choke—twice–in the UFC, Alexey Oleynik (56-11) is honored to fight a mixed marital arts legend Mark Hunt, but he was looking forward to duke it out with a jiu jitsu extraordinaire Fabricio Werdum.

Oleynik has been unofficially announced to take on Mark Hunt (13-12) in the UFC’s first visit to Moscow, Russia in September 2018. His last fight was against Junior Albini where he defeated his foe by Ezekiel choke in May.

Originally, Oleynik was scheduled to fight former heavyweight champion Werdum, but he was pulled from the fight after he was busted for using illegal substances.

Oleynik last fought in Russia back in 2013, so it is like a homecoming for him.

He said he is looking forward to a fight with the New Zealand brawler.

“I am really happy to take this fight,” he said. “I am happy. It is an honor for me. This is a hard fight. This must be a hard fight. Mark Hunt is a MMA legend, in K-1. But I am not young too. I have very many fights too. I am happy to be on the main card and the main fight and first time the UFC is in Russia.”

He added that Hunt has competed against top caliber fighters and has much respect for him, but he was looking forward to fight Werdum to match skills.

“Mark Hunt is very famous. He is a legend in MMA, but he is a legend punching.,” he said. “Werdum is a wrestler and grappler all time best jiu jitsu, all time in the heavyweights. Werdum is a very famous grappler. I think I am good grappler and it would have been an interesting fight with two grapplers. Werdum is good on the punching too, when he fought Alistair both times he fought with him punching and he was good. Overeem doesn’t like grappling.”

View the story on RodolfoRoman.com.

Alexey Oleynik Talks to Fightful About UFC 224

By James Lynch

Alexey Oleynik is stepping foot in the Octagon again at UFC 224, facing Junior Albini in a heavyweight division affair.

The heavyweight is coming off of a controversial fight against Curtis Blaydes at UFC 217, but Oleynik believes he needs to win a few fights to get a rematch.

“I’m actually not seeing this (fight happening again) so soon…so fast, if I beat one or two fighters, then maybe this is worth mention. Not now, maybe one or two fights and I win these fights,” says Oleynik in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.

Blaydes became only the second fighter to defeat Oleynik in his UFC run, with that other competitor being Daniel Omielnanczuk.

Oleynik plans on getting back on track at UFC 224 and the fighter wants to do that by choking out Junior Albini in his native Brazil.

“Either Oleynik doing the choke or Albini doing the knockout, I think there are only two variants (for how the fight will end),” says Oleynik.

UFC 224 takes place on Saturday, May 12 from the Jeunesse Arena in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil with Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.

View story on Fightful.

FOX Sits Down with Oleg Prudius

Former WWE Superstar Oleg Prudius (aka Vladimir Kozlov) talks to FOX5NY about who would make him come out of fighting retirement.

Oleg Prudius Challenges Brock Lesnar to MMA Fight

Former WWE Tag Team Champion “The Moscow Mauler” Vladimir Kozlov was recently a guest on The Roman Show. Kozlov said that he would like to challenge current WWE Universal Champion and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar to a mixed martial arts fight.

Before signing with WWE back in 2006, Kozlov did have a fairly extensive background in various different forms of Martial Arts, including kickboxing, Russian Sambo, Judo, amateur wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu.

Kozlov said the following on The Roman Show:

Wanting to face Brock Lesnar in an MMA fight:

“When I got signed with the WWE and when I was undefeated for a couple of years, fans wanted to see if I could fight Brock Lesnar. But at the time, I couldn’t find him because he left the WWE and he went to the UFC,” he said. “Since I left the WWE, he got back to the WWE from the UFC, so we couldn’t face each other. Right now everyone is asking me if I would challenge Brock Lesnar in an MMA fight. I am telling you if were to get this opportunity, I would like to face this animal. I would put in all my hard work. I will give up my productions. I’ll give up my movies, everything, to compete with the best athlete in the world, Brock Lesnar. He is strong, professional. I think the person who fights him deserves it because he is a legend. If I get this opportunity, I will train hard and face this animal. I spoke to Scott Coker of Bellator. At the time I was busy with productions,” he said. “I was in many projects because of traveling, but for a big fight like that, I will train and put everything on the table.”

Possibly returning to WWE in the future:

“WWE stays in my heart,” he said. “I am popular because of the WWE. When I used to wrestle, I created a fan base. Even in China, they know me because of WWE. The WWE is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. I didn’t think of joining the WWE because I was busy, but if the opportunity will come then we can figure it out. I have a management group who decides what we are supposed to do. Let’s see what happens.”

C.M. Punk’s MMA career:

“He is a great guy. He is a hard worker. This guy can sacrifice himself to follow his dream,” he said. “Since he left the WWE, his dream was to fight in the UFC. I think he can put on a very nice fight. I like C.M. Punk. He is a nice guy.”

View the story at Wrestling News Source.

Alexey Oleynik in Men’s Health

The UFC’s Alexey Oleynik – How the 40-Year-Old ‘Boa Constrictor’ Stays in Elite Shape

By Vinnie Mancuso

At 40, Alexey Oleynik is one of the oldest fighters competing in the UFC. But it’s a different, far more impressive number that earned Oleynik his “Boa Constrictor” nickname: 45, the record-breaking tally of submission victories the Ukrainian grappler has collected over his 20-year MMA career.

The heavyweight — who holds an overall MMA record of 55-11-2, 4-2 in the UFC — took a moment away from training for his May 12 bout against Junior Albini at UFC 224 to chat with MensHealth.com.

SO HOW EXACTLY DOES THE 4O-YEAR GET INTO FIGHTING SHAPE?

“In reality, I’m already in top shape year-round,” Oleynik said through a translator. According to the fighter, the months before entering the octagon is more of a fine tune-up than anything. “It’s like a train. It’s already moving, you just want to get on the right rail and move in the right direction.”

That direction doesn’t involve as much maxing out as you’d expect from UFC’s heaviest weight class. “It’s concentrating more on endurance of the muscle than the size of the muscle,” Oleynik said.

He added that because he’s a “submission artist,” he doesn’t want to “put on big muscles, to look like an Adonis. If I develop a very big chest and look like a bodybuilder, it would be hard for me to choke somebody out.”

The Workout

Oleynik’s training camp consists of 14 to 16 sessions a week, broken down into hour-and-twenty-minute periods. The first 30 minutes is always dedicated to cardio, with a focus on keeping up explosiveness over a long period of time.

CARDIO (30 MINUTES)

For strength training, Oleynik focuses especially on repetition over weight. “If I’m doing 6 to 8 reps with the heavy weight, I develop more size. I don’t need that,” he said. “My coaches know I need lighter weight, 15 to 20 reps.”

STRENGTH TRAINING (50 MINUTES)

The most important exercise of the day, Oleynik said, is a classic combination of both cardio and strength training: the sit-up.

“When you’re doing sit-ups your diaphragm constantly gets compressed, so it throws you off in terms of breathing,” he said. “This is what happens in a fight. So every time my training is over, I go down and have to finish at least 100 sit-ups with a twist.”

Recovery

Oleynik broke down some of the recovery routines that have kept him mostly injury-free over a decades-long career.

NUTRITION

“The most important thing when it comes to recovery, and actually the entire process of training, is nutrition,” Oleynik said. As a heavyweight, the fighter is in the unique position of technically being able to gain as much weight as he wants. But the 40-year-old has been able to compete at a high level for so long because his diet still consists mostly of lean meat, vegetables, and natural fats. “I coach my body as a working machine. Whatever you put in your body, that’s the outcome you’re going to have. Whatever gas you put in a car, that’s how fast it’s going to go.”

SLEEP

“You must, must sleep during training,” Oleynik told us, a feat easier said than done for the father of five. “That’s the tricky part. Some of my kids are young, they wake up in the night, they have to pee, or they want to eat.”

On average, he says, Oleynik sleeps 6 hours a night, but makes sure to sneak in an extra hour or two throughout the day.

RELAXATION

For Oleynik, the recovery process is as mental as it is physical, training your mind to switch gears when you leave the gym. Usually this starts with either an ice bath or quick stay in the sauna, but then it’s putting the fight out of mind until the next session.

“What I’m trying to do is, I’m trying to switch my mindset,” Oleynik told us. “I’m going with my kids to the zoo, to the movies, doing family things. You have to switch your mind from all the hard work and totally relax. Totally zoom out and concentrate on something, anything else.”

View the story on MensHealth.com.

Alexey Oleynik’s Story Covered by MMA Fighting

Alexey Oleynik felt ‘utterly helpless’ with daughter at Parkland school during shooting

On Feb. 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. was the site of the most recent major American school shooting. Seventeen people were murdered and another 14 were taken to the hospital as a result of the attack. It was one of the deadliest shootings in American history, and for the students and parents involved in the attack, it was a nightmare, including UFC heavyweight contender Alexey Oleynik.

Oleynik’s daughter, Polina Oleynik, is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was in attendance on the day of the attack. Yesterday, a few weeks removed from the shooting, Oleynik wrote a piece for ABC News about what it was like for him while his daughter was in an attack like that one, calling the experience “terrifying” and saying he felt “utterly helpless.”

“Nothing in 52 professional fights was as terrifying as a text I received on Valentine’s Day from my 16-year old daughter, Polina,” wrote Oleynik.

View the full story on MMAFighting.com.

School Shooting Reminds Alexey Oleynik He’s a Father First

ABC News Helps the UFC Fighter Share His Story

By Alexey Oleynik

As an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, I step into the Octagon and have to remain calm so I can face down the world’s most brutal athletes. Training to be physically and mentally ready for cage fighting demands that I assess my opponent’s fiercest skill — perhaps a left-leg kick or a knock-out jab — and develop a strategy to win.

However, nothing in 52 professional fights was as terrifying as a text I received on Valentine’s Day from my 16-year old daughter, Polina.

“Daddy, there is a shooting at my school.”

I read the text again just to make sure it was correct — it was. As the father of five kids, ages 2 to 16, I was consumed by thoughts of death and violence. My daughter is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and was texting me from the mass shooting that would claim 17 lives and injure many more. Thankfully, Polina survived and was uninjured, but for several hours I struggled to retain the composure I have during fights. Her text reminded me that I am a father first, and a fighter second.My mixed martial arts nickname is “The Boa Constrictor” because I regularly choke my opponents into submission. But, this text, received as I was preparing to leave for Russia on a work trip, left me feeling utterly helpless. My daughter updated my wife and me with a text message every 10 minutes or so. Each text gave us the gift we wanted more than anything else — knowing she was safe, for now. Then, between each text, I felt powerless, feeling a growing sense of panic.

For a while, we watched the local television to learn some details, but we turned it off, horrified to see the unfolding scenes. This lack of control is every parent’s worst nightmare and was more harrowing for me than any UFC fight experience. In between Polina’s texts, we tried to figure out how to get close to the school to retrieve her.

The reality is, as a professional fighter, I have the luxury of preparing for months for each fight. I train my body to peak fitness and develop a mental strategy to overcome my opponent’s biggest threat. All that preparation, study, visualization and training gives me a tremendous feeling of control. When my daughter was sending me her texts, I was scared because I had no control over her situation.Eventually, we managed to get close enough to the school so we could pick up Polina. She had escaped unharmed, thanks to the brave assistance from her teachers and school staff. Just as my fighting career owes a great deal to advance preparation, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school staff had carried out many emergency drills. That preparation helped to keep the children relatively calm on the day of the shooting and probably reduced the number of casualties. Of course, many parents and relatives lost loved ones. My family sends our deepest condolences to each and every one of those families that are now grieving.

When I moved my family to Florida in December of 2016, at first I was attracted to the area because of the American Top Team training facility in Coconut Creek. UFC President Dana White has praised the team’s work, saying it’s among the few places capable of producing world champions. My wife and I also loved the schools, the great police and fire departments, the good housing, and the area’s low crime rate. It seemed like the ideal place to train and raise a family. For someone who hopes to soon become a naturalized U.S. citizen, this seemed like a small slice of heaven.

Despite the recent horror, I still feel that way. My daughter will continue attending her school and we will continue calling Florida home. Where we live was safe before this horrific shooting, and it remains a safe place now.

Now, we are trying to regain normality in our everyday lives.

On Monday, Polina left the house alone in her car — a normal experience for most Florida teenagers. As her father, I had to again relinquish my desire for control and let her try to enjoy the freedom she still has even after her recent, tragic ordeal. And, while I am relatively new to U.S. politics, I do know about the psychology of winning battles. More than anything, this experience reminds me that we cannot allow our spirit to be broken and for fear to overcome us.

In the long run in sports and life, strength and fortitude carry us through the hard times.

View the story on ABC News.