UFC Vegas 18 betting preview: Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

LAS VEGAS — Alistair Overeem has one loss in his last five fights, and that was someone he dominated for, oh, 24 minutes and 50 seconds. Overeem easily handled Jairzinho Rozenstruik when they met on Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington, D.C., until the waning seconds of the fight.

Such is Rozenstruik’s power is that it only takes one shot for him to end it, and he landed it just in the nick of time.

But if Overeem had managed to avoid that shot, he’d be on a five-fight winning streak and would probably be the favorite to defeat Alexander Volkov when they meet on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) in the main event of UFC Vegas 18 at Apex.

The punch landed, though, and we find Overeem as an underdog to Volkov. At BetMGM, Volkov is -185 while Overeem is +155.

The fight is a battle between two of the best kickboxers in the UFC, and is one that is unlikely to go to the ground.

They’re very evenly matched, with Overeem ranked fifth and Volkov sixth. The UFC heavyweight division is tiered, and champion Stipe Miocic and No. 1 contender Francis Ngannou are in the top tier clearly ahead of the rest of the field.

Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis and Rozenstruik are in the next tier, though it wouldn’t be a stretch to include both Oveerem and Volkov in that tier. But based on their age — Overeem is 40 and Volkov is 32 — and their recent history, let’s put them in the third tier that would also include Ciryl Gane.

Dec 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) is announced before his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Alistair Overeem (47-18) is 4-1 with 4 KOs in his last five fights. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Overeem probably has more natural ability than Volkov, but the wear and tear of his lengthy fight career has taken a bit from him. But he’s still dangerous, as his TKOs over Augusto Sakai, Walt Harris, Alexey Oleynik and Sergei Pavlovich show.

His knees, which famously spelled the beginning of the end for ex-champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, remain a dangerous weapon.

He’ll be giving up three inches in height to the 6-foot-7 Volkov, but both men have an 80-inch reach. Volkov is coming off a TKO of Harris, which he set up with a body kick. He was smothered by Blaydes in his prior outing, when Blaydes took him down and essentially pinned him for much of the fight.

The winner will come down to who makes the first mistake, and I think it’s going to be Volkov who does. As a result, I expect Overeem to win the fight by knockout.

So I’ll play Overeem to win at +155 and also to win by KO/TKO, DQ or submission at +220. I’m going to add a third play because of the number, and while it may seem I’m going against myself, I don’t think I am. I’ll also take Overeem at +775 to win by decision.

There are three outcomes that would affect my bets: Volkov winning would mean I lose all three bets. Overeem winning by decision would mean I win two of three, as would an Overeem KO mean I’d take two of three.

Assuming I play one unit, let’s look at how those play out:

Scenario 1, Volkov wins: I have wagered $100 on Overeem to win at +155, another $100 on him to win by KO/TKO at +220 and a third $100 on him to win by decision at $100. Money risked: $300. Money lost in this scenario: $300. Money won in this scenario: $0. Total result: Loss of $300.

Scenario 2, Overeem wins by KO/TKO. Money risked: $300: Money lost in this scenario: $100. Money won in this scenario: $375. Total result: Profit of $275.

Scenario 3, Overeem wins by decision. Money risked: $300. Money lost in this scenario: $100. Money won in this scenario: $930. Total result: Profit of $830.

Now, if I stuck to my conviction and bet Overeem to win and Overeem to win by KO/TKO but avoided betting Overeem by decision, I’d make a total profit of $375 if he in fact wins by finish. So I cost myself $100 in Scenario 2, though I still walk away with money in my pocket.

Under a scenario where I put on Overeem to win at +155 and to win by decision at +775, I’d pocket $930 there.

But I’m covering myself and conceding $100 to ensure myself a decent win on Overeem — as long as he’s victorious. I would lose an additional $100 to bring my loss to $300 instead of $200 were I wrong and Volkov wins the fight.

Given I feel strongly about Overeem winning it, I think this is the way to go given the attractive numbers available.

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