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The UFC’s holding pattern of lacklustre events continues this Saturday night as the promotion is seemingly treading water before a return to Abu Dhabi at the end of the month.

While UFC Fight Night 176 is headlined by an intriguing heavyweight clash, there is little else in terms of real consequence outside of a high-ranking flyweight bout between Montana de la Rosa and Viviane Araujo on the preliminary card.

Alistair Overeem (46-18, 1 NC) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-1-1)

As with pretty much all Alistair Overeem fights, the contest boils down to whether the Dutchman’s durability will hold up.

Technically, Overeem is the superior striker – as he is in most match-ups – but time after time, momentary defensive lapses have seen Overeem’s good work go to waste thanks to a questionable chin.

Sakai meanwhile has shown to be durable in his ability to eat shots and also produces decent output in his offence.

With this fight being five rounds, Sakai will simply have more time to find that one punch which can turn the fight in his favour but from a technical standpoint, it’s hard to overlook Overeem’s skills.

Whether it be in the clinch or perhaps on the mat, Overeem looks to be the better man so I’ll have to cautiously side with ‘The Demolition Man’.

Pick: Alistair Overeem

Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs. Alonzo Menifield (9-1)

Menifield’s last outing showed a real problem with his gas tank and OSP will no doubt look to take this fight deep or employ a grinding tactic.

OSP though is probably as inconsistent as you can get at light heavyweight so a Menifield early blitz certainly isn’t out of the question.

It’s a toss-up but I’ll side with OSP’s experience to take the fight where Menifield struggles.

Pick: Ovince Saint Preux

Michel Pereira (23-11, 2 NC) vs. Zelim Imadaev (8-2)

Speaking of inconsistency, Michel Pereira is the epitome of MMA’s craziness.

With big power and remarkable athleticism, Michel Pereira could be a decent player at 170 lbs. Those physical skills, however, are immediately offset by his desire to do backflips in the middle of the cage and empty his gas tank before stepping into the octagon.

Imadaev similarly is also a wild man by all reports. From getting into arguments with the loveable Forrest Griffin at the UFC’s Performance Institute to slapping Pereira at the face-offs yesterday, this fight could easily become a wild brawl.

While Pereira’s cardio is a real concern, I think his physicality is a lot to overcome and while he may become knackered the longer this fight goes, he can certainly fall into some takedowns which look to be a problem area for Imadaev.

Pick: Michel Pereira

Thiago Moises (13-4) vs. Jalin Turner (9-5)

Moises is talented on the mat and he’ll be looking to either immediately close the distance or capitalise on mistakes by Turner to counter with either trips or clinch engagements.

Turner’s size and power will be a problem for Moises at range however so this fight should be a case study of whether Turner can balance his offence and not overreach for his opportunities.

It’s a tough fight to pick but I think Moises has shown enough durability to be able to wade through Turner’s attacks and control the fight through his grappling.

Pick: Thiago Moises

Brian Kelleher (21-11) vs. Kevin Natividad (9-1)

On short notice, it’s a big ask for Natividad to best someone of the experience and quality of Brian Kelleher.

While Natividad looks to be a decent brawler in his own right, Kelleher has remained competitive with much better competition and is better prepared for this contest.

Pick: Brian Kelleher

(Last Predictions: 3/4, Total: 85/126, 67% Success Rate)

(Success Rate: 201661%’1760%’1858%19′: 57%)

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