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UFC on ESPN+ 32: Preview And Picks

Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik posing in photoshoots

The UFC is continuing to pump out cards as the promotion returned to American soil last week after spending a month on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. UFC on ESPN+ 32 will once again take place at the Apex Performance Center.

Headlining Saturday’s card is a tilt in the heavyweight division between fan favorite Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis and submission specialist Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik. I have a preview and pick for each fight on the main card as well as all of the betting odds for UFC on ESPN+ 32: Lewis vs Oleinik.

Online sportsbook Bovada has released the lines for this card and in the main event, Lewis is a -190 favorite with Oleinik coming back as a +155 underdog.

Lewis vs Oleinik | Akhmedov vs Weidman | Pitolo vs Stewart | Kunitskaya vs Soliarenko | Dariush vs Holtzman | Prelims

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UFC on ESPN+ 32: Broadcast Information
  • Date/Time: August 8, 6 p.m. ET
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Arena: UFC Apex Performance Center
  • Where to Watch: ESPN+

Derrick Lewis vs Aleksei Oleinik

Derrick Lewis vs Aleksei Oleinik Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Derrick Lewis-190
Aleksei Oleinik+155

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Oleinik (+155) is searching for his first three-fight winning streak in the UFC after  having four previous two-fight streaks snapped in the bid for No. 3 in a row. Meanwhile, Lewis (-190) looks to continue that trend and collect his third straight win after dropping back-to-back fights in late November and early March.


Lewis: Need to Knows
  • The Black Beast earned a title fight against Daniel Cormier in late November after winning nine of 10 fights, including seven knockouts.
  • Of Lewis’ 23 professional victories, 18 have been by knockout, while four of his seven losses have also come in that manner.
  • Despite dropping some weight, he doesn’t have a huge offensive output, averaging just 21 significant strikes over his last seven fights. He only absorbs 2.14 significant strikes per minute but his takedown defense may be the issue, having been taken down 10 times over the last four bouts.
  • Lewis’ last three fights were Junior dos Santos (loss – knockout), Blagoy Ivanov (win – split decision) and Ilir Latifi (win – unanimous decision).


Oleinik: Need to Knows
  • While the Black Beast enjoys knocking his opponents out, the Boa Constrictor prefers submitting people for victories.
  • Of Oleinik’s 59 pro wins, 46 have been by submission, including six of his eight UFC victories.
  • The Boa Constrictor’s striking isn’t something his opponents really have to worry about. He throws loopy hooks and overhand punches, looking to land heavy or close the distance to get in a grappling exchange.
  • He does throw 3.72 significant strikes per minute, usually standing in the pocket. More importantly, though, he lands 2.41 takedowns per 15 minutes, hitting 46 percent of his attempts.
  • Oleinik’s last three fights were Walt Harris (loss – knockout), Maurice Green (win – submission) and Fabricio Werdum (win – split decision).

Prediction: Derrick Lewis (-190) via knockout

Omari Akhmedov vs Chris Weidman

Omari Akhmedov vs Chris Weidman Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Omari Akhmedov+115
Chris Weidman-145

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

After losing the middleweight title in 2015, Chris “The All-American” Weidman (-145) has dropped five of his last six fights, all by knockout, and is looking to get back on track. His opponent, Omari “Wolverine” Akhmedov (+115), hasn’t tasted defeat since 2016, going 5-0-1 through his last six bouts.


Akhmedov: Need to Knows
  • Wolverine is a well-rounded mixed martial artist, which is evident in his balanced method of victory record with seven knockout wins, five submissions and eight decisions.
  • Akhmedov is known for his grappling credentials with 2.40 takedowns per 15 minutes, landing 50 percent of his attempts. That said, he is averaging 2.99 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.77 and he has outstruck five of his last six opponents.
  • On the feet, when his opponents rush in on him, he tends to try to catch them with his accurate straight punches before following up with harder hooks. He also has fairly good conditioning that allows him to maintain a good pace through the entire bout.
  • Akhmedov’s last three fights were Tim Boetsch (win – unanimous decision), Zak Cummings (win – unanimous decision) and Ian Heinisch (win – unanimous decision).


Weidman: Need to Knows
  • After four knockout losses in five fights, the former middleweight champion decided to try his hand at light heavyweight in his last bout, which ended with a first-round knockout loss to Dominick Reyes.
  • Weidman absorbs more punishment than he delivers, landing 3.14 significant strikes per minute and taking 3.25, and has been outstruck in five of his last six fights. Wrestling is his edge, though, landing 50 percent of his attempts for an average of 3.82 takedowns per 15 minutes.
  • The All-American is very active on his feet, throwing a lot of feints and constantly bouncing around finding angles to land strikes. He throws a good jab and works well behind it but at times will drop his trail hand, which leaves him open to the left hook.
  • When Weidman gets his hands on his opponents, he has great chain wrestling to ensure the takedown.
  • Weidman’s last three fights were Kelvin Gastelum (win – submission), Jacare Souza (loss – knockout) and Dominick Reyes (loss – knockout).

Prediction: Chris Weidman (-145) via decision

Maki Pitolo vs Darren Stewart

Maki Pitolo vs Darren Stewart Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Maki Pitolo+125
Darren Stewart-155

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

After earning a UFC contract in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Maki “Coconut Bombz” Pitolo (+125) dropped his UFC debut but rebounded with a knockout win in June. As for Darren “The Dentist” Stewart (-155), he saw his two-fight winning streak ended in March with his unanimous-decision loss to Bartosz Fabinski.


Pitolo: Need to Knows
  • Pitolo, like many other Hawaiian fighters, loves to get in phone booth-style fights exchanging hands, which has led to seven of his 13 pro wins ending by knockout.
  • He has a high output of 5.22 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.98 and he has outstruck both of his opponents in the UFC. He landed three takedowns in his last bout but has been taken down four times over his two fights in the Octagon.
  • Coconut Bombz is very aggressive, closing the distance and throwing combinations at his opponents. He has fantastic timing and accuracy. If his counterparts look to engage with him, he does a great job landing in the pocket.
  • His grappling is good, with the strength to slam his foe, but at times he gets a little aggressive and can be swept.
  • Pitolo’s last three fights were Justin Michael Sumter (win – knockout), Callan Potter (loss – unanimous decision) and Charles Byrd (win – knockout).


Stewart: Need to Knows
  • After starting his UFC career with three losses and a no decision, Stewart is 4-2 with two decision losses, one of them to Edmen Shahbazyan in 2018.
  • As Pitolo represents Hawaii with brawls, Stewart likes to box like many other English fighters. Seven of his 11 pro wins have come by knockout and he has never lost in that manner. He averages 2.94 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.44 and even outstruck Shahbazyan 34-22 in his loss.
  • The Dentist is a patient fighter, keeping his hands high and using great footwork to evade damage. He has very fast hands and a powerful snapping jab that he follows with a heavy straight right.
  • At times if he is rushed, he will put his hands out to try to keep the distance, which can leave him vulnerable to punches over the top.
  • Stewart’s last three fights were Bevon Lewis (win – unanimous decision), Deron Winn (win – split decision) and Bartosz Fabinski (loss – unanimous decision).

Prediction: Maki Pitolo (+125) via decision

Yana Kunitskaya vs Julija Stoliarenko

Yana Kunitskaya vs Julija Stoliarenko Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Yana Kunitskaya-230
Julija Stoliarenko+180

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Julija Stoliarenko (+180) returns to the Octagon for the first time since 2018 after winning her last five fights outside the UFC. Looking to put a stop to that streak and get back in the win column is Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya (-230), who is coming off a knockout loss to Aspen Ladd last December.


Kunitskaya: Need to Knows
  • Kunitskaya rebounded from a title fight loss in her UFC debut against Cris Cyborg with consecutive decision wins over Lina Lansberg and Marion Reneau and she hopes to do the same after falling to Ladd.
  • She is a well-rounded fighter with a blend of striking and grappling, averaging 5.05 significant strikes per minute and absorbing 4.12. She also averages 2.39 takedowns per 15 minutes, hitting 53 percent of attempts.
  • Foxy likes to fight long with jabs and front kicks to keep her opponents at bay. In striking range, she doesn’t possess a ton of power but rather constantly chips away and wears her opponents out.
  • An underrated part of her game is her clinch work against the cage, where she is active with knees and doesn’t let her foes escape. She has poor takedown defense, stuffing just 20 percent of attempts.
  • Kunitskaya’s last three fights were Lina Lansberg (win – unanimous decision), Marion Reneau (win – unanimous decision) and Aspen Ladd (loss – knockout).


Stoliarenko: Need to Knows
  • It is a dangerous game to elect to grapple with Stoliarenko, with eight of her nine pro wins coming by way of submission, each of them the result of an armbar.
  • In her lone UFC fight against Leah Letson, she was outstruck 73-57 while failing to land a takedown. However, she did make Letson miss 59 percent of her strike attempts.
  • The Invicta FC bantamweight champion tends to be aggressive, running right at her opponents throwing superman (or superwoman, in this case) punches and kicks.
  • However, in throwing those punches, she has very little head movement and she simply stands in the pocket throwing, which leaves her open to heavy punches. Quite often she will pull guard if her foes get close to her and she’s quick to transition to an armbar attempt.
  • Stoliarenko’s last three fights were Victoria Dvaraninovich (win – submission), Maria Tatunishvili (win – submission) and Lisa Verzosa (win – split decision).

Prediction: Yana Kunitskaya (-230) via knockout

Beneil Dariush vs Scott Holtzman

Beneil Dariush vs Scott Holtzman Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Beneil Dariush-190
Scott Holtzman+155

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

A winning streak will come to a close in the first fight of the main card. Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman (+155) had a three-fight winning streak snapped in early 2017 but rebounded with back-to-back wins since. As for Beneil Dariush (-190), he enters this bout as a winner in his last four, three of which were finishes.


Dariush: Need to Knows
  • Dariush has really rounded out his game recently, mixing in takedowns a lot more often, reflecting a style similar to the start of his UFC career.
  • He has secured nine takedowns over his last four fights after landing just one takedown in his previous seven fights, when he held a record of 3-3-1 over that span. He averages 1.80 takedowns per minute.
  • He does his best work when he’s leading the dance, varying his attack from jabs and straight punches to a quick takedown attempt.
  • When he’s being backed down, he does have a tendency to hold his hands low, which can lead to him eating heavy shots if he’s rushed. In striking exchanges, he has a great ability to find his opponent’s chin when he fires.
  • Dariush’s last three fights were Drew Dober (win – submission), Frank Camacho (win – submission) and Drakkar Klose (win – knockout).


Holtzman: Need to Knows
  • Holtzman has outstruck eight of his 10 opponents in the UFC, losing by unanimous decision in the two fights in which he was outstruck.
  • Half of his 14 pro victories have been finishes, five by knockout and two by submission, while he has never been stopped in his career of 17 pro fights.
  • Hot Sauce is a great counter-striker, often backing his opponents down so they feel the pressure and then timing their entry with a great lead punch or a well-placed leg kick.
  • His takedown defense is fairly solid, though he was taken down a total of 18 times in his three UFC losses. At times, he throws just one punch at a time, which leaves him open to counters as he stands in the pocket.
  • Holtzman’s last three fights were Nik Lentz (loss – unanimous decision), Dong Hyun Ma (win – knockout) and Jim Miller (win – unanimous decision).

Prediction: Beneil Dariush (-190) via decision

UFC on ESPN+ 32: Lewis vs Oleinik Prelim Odds

Tim Means vs Laureano Staropoli Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Tim Means+120
Laureano Staropoli-150

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Kevin Holland vs Joaquin Buckley Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Kevin Holland-500
Joaquin Buckley+350

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Nasrat Haqparast vs Alex Munoz Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Nasrat Haqparast-250
Alex Munoz+195

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Andrew Sanchez vs Wellington Turman Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Andrew Sanchez+120
Wellington Turman-150

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Justin Jaynes vs Gavin Tucker Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Justin Jaynes+105
Gavin Tucker-135

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Peter Barrett vs Youssef Zalal Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Peter Barrett+350
Youssef Zalal-500

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada

Irwin Rivera vs Ali AlQaisi Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Irwin Rivera-200
Ali AlQaisi+160

Odds as of August 8 at Bovada