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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.

OLEG PRUDIUS SIGNS WITH IPZ

Former WWE Superstar (a.k.a. Vladimir Kozlov) to be Represented by Both Combat Sports and Entertainment Divisions

WARREN, NJ, February 27, 2018 – Oleg Prudius, also known as Vladimir Kozlov from his days as a WWE Superstar, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Prudius officially began his career as an entertainer in 2002 and one of his first projects was Spike Lee’s 2002 film 25th Hour in which he played a small role. The following year, Prudius appeared in multiple episodes of the HBO series The Wire.

The six-foot-three Ukrainian-American then took a short break from acting to pursue combat sports competitively. In 2005, Prudius became the USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Champion and a United States Kick-Boxing Association (USKBA) International Heavyweight Grappling Champion.

A year later, Prudius decided to combine his expertise in combat sports with his passion for entertaining and embarked on his journey as a professional wrestler. In December 2006, Prudius made an appearance as a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) prospect on Raw under the name Vladimir Kozlov. The ring name stuck.

From 2006 to 2011, Kozlov was a mainstay on the brand’s various programs: WWE Raw, WWE SmackDown, WWE NXT, and WWE Superstars. Simultaneously, from 2007 to 2010, Kozlov also played a significant role in a show created by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon called Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

Prudius dove into another element of entertainment when he voiced his character Vladimir Kozlov in two video games: WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2011 and WWE ’12.

Kozlov competed in his last WWE match on an episode of SmackDown that aired on August 5, 2011. Prudius decided to continue his professional wrestling career in Japan for the Inoki Genome Federation and assumed a somewhat new ring name, Alexander Kozlov. On October 16, 2012, Prudius retired from professional wrestling.

Since, Prudius has returned to acting in films and television shows. In 2013, he starred in 30 Cuts Deep and appeared in an episode of USA Network’s Burn Notice.

In 2016, the WWE did a Where Are They Now? feature on Prudius and it has amassed the most views of any in the series with more than 1.2 million and counting.

In 2017, Prudius had roles in three films, all hits in the box office. He appeared in John Wick: Chapter 2 and the eighth installment of the famed Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious. The third and most recent film he acted in is the second highest-grossing film of all-time in a single market. Wolf Warrior 2 grossed more than $874 million in the Chinese box office and it became the only non-Hollywood film ever to be included in the list of 100 all-time highest-grossing films worldwide. Prudius played the role of Bear, the muscle of the villains.

“For an athlete, pro-wrestler, actor and producer like me, the notion of a brand or product with recognizable quality is paramount,” said Prudius. “I have achieved the highest accolades in combat sports, built a recognizable name in the WWE and the entertainment industry, but I always strive to get to the next level – to create a name brand like Michael Jordan or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bob Zito, managing partner of IPZ, has an impeccable reputation, experience and understanding of business, a wide network of contacts across various industries ranging from entertainment and sports to pharmaceuticals and finance. I like the fact that Bob was able to put together a young team of dedicated people that have vision, knowledge, a worldwide reach and all the other necessary tools to produce great results and benefits for everyone involved. This is why being represented by IPZ is a sensible choice for me.”

“I’m happy to announce that we, at IPZ, have added Oleg to our Combat Sports and Media + Entertainment groups,” said Alec Savitsky, IPZ’s director of combat sports. “As a champion fighter, former WWE superstar, and accomplished actor, Oleg has built a brand recognized worldwide. We are excited to explore new opportunities with Oleg and help him continue to expand in all facets of his career.”

“Oleg has always attacked everything he does in life with passion, and that will be welcomed by brands,” said Robert Zito, IPZ managing partner. “He also works his butt off, never looking for star treatment. He’s got a blue collar attitude that I personally love.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

ALEXEY OLEYNIK CHOOSES IPZ

UFC Fighter Signs with Sports and Entertainment Agency

WARREN, NJ, February 27, 2018 – Alexey Oleynik, a UFC fighter in the heavyweight division, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

“The Boa Constrictor” as Oleynik is also known, is a Ukrainian-Russian who stands at six-foot-one and weighs 241 pounds. Oleynik began his combat sports career in 1997 and has competed in grappling, Ju-Jitsu, combat sambo, and mixed martial arts events.

Since kicking off his professional career nearly 21 years ago, Oleynik has posted an overall record of 55-11-1. This spans across all leagues and competitions he’s participated in which include the UFC, Bellator, M-1 Global, KSW, YAMMA Pit Fighting, and many more.

In November 2013, The Boa Constrictor announced that he signed a contract with the UFC. Oleynik made his debut against Anthony Hamilton on June 28, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 44. He won the fight early in the first round.

A few months later, Oleynik competed in and won his second UFC fight against Jared Rosholt on November 22.

After a short stint away, due to injury, Oleynik returned to the octagon on July 13, 2016, and has been competing on a consistent basis since. He holds a 4-2 record in the UFC and has taken home Performance of the Night bonuses twice.

As of July 2017, Oleynik is ranked #11 overall in the official UFC heavyweight rankings.

Oleynik is set to take on Junior Albini in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12, 2018 for his next UFC bout.

“My partnership with IPZ feels very natural to me,” said Oleynik. “IPZ’s goal is to position its clients in the best light to secure sponsorships and a successful post-athletic career. As a seasoned athlete, the possibility of retirement is always looming. The nature of combat sports is extremely unpredictable due to the injuries that can end fighter’s career at any moment. The uncertain reality of combat sports constantly forces me to think about life beyond competition, my future earnings, and my ability to continue to do what I love. IPZ recognizes the value in me by being a well-known athlete, especially in my native country Russia, and within the Mixed Martial Arts community around the world. As a current top UFC heavyweight fighter and one of the best grappling technicians in the world, I want to share my knowledge and experience of competing at the highest level with as many people as I can. IPZ presented me with a plan that addressed my concerns and will open a new and exciting chapter in my life. I am confident that with IPZ’s worldwide network, I will be able to maximize my exposure to my fans, MMA practitioners, and continue building my legacy.”

“We are thrilled to have an outstanding athlete in Alexey join the IPZ family,” said Director of Combat Sports Alec Savitsky. “Alexey is a top UFC heavyweight fighter and one of the best submission fighters in the world. With his upcoming – seventh career – UFC fight in Rio and beyond, we look forward to tapping into the possibilities of growing Alexey’s brand around the world.”

“Humble and kind. No, not the Tim McGraw song. That’s how I would describe Alexey,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito. “First impressions mean a lot. When Alexey walked into our meeting, I was taken by how humble he was. Here is a man who has not just excelled in his field for decades, but he has trained nine world champions. That is simply amazing.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.