UFC returned in fine fashion and after an extended period of time trying to bring the sport back, chief Dana White finally got his way with a little help from Florida. The Ultimate Fighting Championship showcased three fight nights in the space of seven days, promoting MMA on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Having enjoyed the first two, sports fans move onto the third and final leg this weekend. Saturday’s card will, again, take place at an almost deserted VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The evening will be fought out behind closed doors but will be shown live on several popular TV stations. These include ESPN in the US and BT Sports in the UK.
Great news for lovers of the UFC and for sports followers who have been starved of events during the coronavirus enforced lockdown that has affected the United States and much of the world. Who will make a name for themselves on Saturday? Let’s take a closer look.
- The sports leagues are slowly returning, check out predictions for this weekend!
Fighters speak of strange atmosphere
Fighters have already spoken of how strange it was competing at an empty arena last weekend. We got shock of the night as hot favourite Tony Ferguson was beaten, and it will be interesting to see how many fancied fighters lose without the backing of their support. Competitors mentioned walking out to an eerie silence as well as being able to hear the advice and thoughts of commentators and their coaching staff.
It’s not ideal, of course, as sport is all about fans but at this current time it is necessary it that will be the case for the months ahead. We’re delighted to have sport back on our screens and the industry must take small steps to ensure the safety of all concerned, including fighters and officials. MMA bouts taking place in front of sold-out arenas around the world probably won’t happen again in 2020, although that is being monitored all the time.
In the meantime, we have UFC Fight Night to look forward to and it promises to be a night of thrills and spills for those watching at home. We have a heavyweight bout at top of the bill between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris and this is a contest that has got fans excited. The pair have history, having missed a chance to fight previously and this has hiked up the interest in the bout. There looks to be little between the pair on paper and that those close to the sport are expecting a competitive contest, especially with no fans to sway the decision.
Harris scores back-to-back KO wins
Walt Harris is a 36-year-old American fighter from Alabama, nicknamed The Vault. He has a professional MMA record of 13 wins against seven defeats and one no contest. Of his victories, Walt scored all 13 by knockout, which is quite an incredible feat. Three of his losses have come on a points decision, with two KOs, one submission, and by disqualification.
The big hitter arrives at the venue on a four-fight unbeaten run, made up of three wins and that no contest. The spare was originally called a split decision points win for Harris but that was overturned after he tested positive for LGD-4033 which is a banned substance in the competition. It has been a long road back for the fighter, but he did go some way to winning back supporters with a pair of stunning victories. The Vault KO’d Sergey Spivak last May with knees and punches in his comeback bout before stopping Aleksei Oleinik in July 2019, taking both in the opening round and collecting performance of the night each time.
Overeem experienced and capable
Opponent Alistair Overeem knows he has his work cut out for him when sharing the octagon with one of the sport’s most dangerous men. The 39-year-old from London is experienced, however, and will go into this bout confident in his ability to pull off an upset win. Very few fighters have been able to stand up to the power of Harris and that looks key to victory for the Brit. He’ll be eager to take this contest into the latter rounds and the longer the fight goes the more chance he’ll have of winning and improving his own career.
Nicknamed The Demolition Man, Overeem carries a professional MMA record of 64 fights – 45 wins against 18 defeats. He has picked up 23 wins by KO, 17 by submission and five on decision. Of his losses, 14 have come by KO, one by submission and three on the scorecards. He was beaten last time out by Jairzinho Rozenstruick and the worrying thing about that was it was a KO defeat, suffered in Washington late last year.
Harris vs Overeem prediction
The general view among followers of UFC is this fight is likely to be won by Walt Harris and the stats of both men make that easy to follow. Overeem will know enough to survive the inevitable early onslaught and will want to keep out of danger and drag his opponent into deep water, but that’s easier said than done.
Harris is a knockout article who is happy to put it all on the line to get rid of an opponent. His speed and power is frightening. Overeem has suffered 14 knockout defeats already and that is worth keeping in mind when making predictions on the outcome of this one. If Harris is able to find his range and get the big shots off, it really is a matter of how long Overeem can remain in the bout.
UFC betting odds
Walt Harris is favourite and has been priced at 4/7 to win this fight, which is competitive but it is likely to appeal to accumulator backers placing fight night multiples. Fancy the upset? Overeem has been chalked up at 135/100 by traders.
There are bigger prices to be had in the method of victory market where players are challenged with predicting the winner and how he will achieve the result – KO, submission, or points.