The Film Room: Alexey Oleynik

By Kevin Wilson Apr 18, 2019
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Russian submission specialist Alexey Oleynik will enter the Octagon for the most significant test of his Ultimate Fighting Championship career when he collides with Alistair Overeem in the UFC Fight Night 149 headliner on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia. “The Boa Constrictor” has won 15 of his last 17 fights dating back to March 2012.

Ahead of his first main event assignment in the UFC, Oleynik supplies the material for this edition of The Film Room.

Although the average fan may not know much about Oleynik, he has put together one of the most historic MMA careers of all-time. His bout with Overeem marks his 69th professional appearance -- he started in 1996 -- and at 41 years of age, he can still finish some of the best heavyweights in the world. Oleynik is an International Master of Sport in combat sambo and a fourth-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu under Ricardo Liborio, making him one of the most accomplished heavyweight grapplers in MMA. However, when it comes to getting the fight to the ground, Oleynik often struggles. Most of his takedowns are simple double-legs against the cage, but he rarely sets them up and instead ends up diving at the opponent’s legs from a mile away. If the opponent gets close, Oleynik will wrap him up in the clinch and pull guard, because at the end of the day, he needs the fight on the ground to win and try to get it there by any means necessary.

Oleynik is best known for being the only fighter in UFC history to pull off an Ezekiel choke, and he has done so on two occasions. The Ezekiel choke is a rare maneuver that requires ridiculous strength and arm size to execute. Against Junior Albini, Oleynik faked the takedown and came back up to grab underhooks. Then he locked up the Ezekiel choke while standing and pulled guard to finish. It may look like he put himself in a bad position, but even if he fails to finish the choke, the fight remains in his wheelhouse.

Oleynik is also one of the few people in MMA who has finished a scarf hold submission. The scarf hold is technically the same choke and uses the same grip as the Ezekiel choke, but it is secured from the side saddle position rather than being on the bottom. The interesting thing about both submissions is the work involved to finish them. If you lock up a clean rear-naked choke, the opponent will tap in seconds. The Ezekiel choke and scarf hold require the attacker to constantly adjust the squeeze and angle of the choke to finish it and often takes up to a minute with the choke fully secured to make the opponent tap. Oleynik is always adjusting position and force of his squeeze before executing the finish.

With 48 submission victories to his credit, Oleynik has become known as one of the greatest submission specialists to ever step inside a cage or ring. From rear-naked chokes and armbars to scarf holds and heel hooks, Oleynik is truly proficient at every submission under the sun. He has a wide variety of attacks from which to choose, including other uncommon submissions in MMA, like the north-south choke and inverted straight armbar. Oleynik also has a bulldog choke victory and three heel hook finishes on his resume.

Oleynik generally needs the fight to hit the ground to win, but he does have a nice overhand right with which he has finished fights in the past. He uses the classic Dan Henderson setup for his right hand, as he will throw a shifting leg kick to get the opponent off-balance before throwing the overhand. He is also proficient at catching kicks and countering with a right hand over the top before going for the takedown. Advertisement


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