Aleksei Oleinik brings as much experience as anyone to the Octagon. It’s a quality that should help him on Saturday at UFC 249 when he takes on the former heavyweight champion of the world, Fabricio Werdum.
The current 12th-ranked heavyweight has 72 professional fights and has faced the likes of Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem and Mirko Cro Cop. He’s fared well in his big fights and has earned a performance bonus in each of his last three victories, most recently when he submitted Maurice Greene at UFC 246 earlier this year.
Despite this success, Oleinik’s matchup with Werdum may be the best opportunity he’s had yet in his UFC career, as the combination of Werdum’s superstar status and the bright lights UFC 249 is providing gives Oleinik a chance to extend his win streak and make a name for himself.
Prior to UFC 249, UFC.com talked with Oleinik on the phone as he prepares for the event in Florida.
UFC: How has training been different for you during the quarantine?
AO: I’ve been outside with my coaches, and in my backyard, I have a boxing bag and pads. I’ve been a professional for more than 20 years, so I always train and prepare.
UFC: What will it be like fighting in an arena with no fans?
AO: Different, but not too much. We still fight for a million fans and they can watch the fight. I’m fighting maybe the best grappler in the UFC and everyone can watch on ESPN and this is important. In any competition only 10 thousand people or so can watch live. But millions can watch on TV.
UFC: How does it feel to be able to provide people a night of entertainment during these hard times?
AO: Now is a bad time for many people in all the world. They must be safe and stay home. That’s important. But sport and martial arts are part of my life. This is important for sportsmen and fans.