Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier battled earlier this month at UFC 252 in a fight that many felt would determine the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time. Miocic won by unanimous decision to retain the UFC heavyweight title.

Alistair Overeem is also in that heavyweight GOAT conversation. The former Strikeforce and Dream champion has as good a résumé as anyone, with the caveat that he has never been the UFC heavyweight titleholder.

“I’m gonna leave that up to the media and the fans,” Overeem told ESPN when asked where he fits in the conversation of the best heavyweight ever. “I’m just enjoying my career, doing my thing. It’s a difficult discussion, difficult argument — because different times, right? Different eras.”

Overeem’s legendary career continues Saturday against Augusto Sakai in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Overeem, ranked No. 10 in the world at heavyweight by ESPN, is still on a title path. At 40 years old, he has won three of four and has shown an evolution in his game since moving to Elevation Fight Team in Colorado in 2018.

Overeem (46-18, 1 NC) holds career wins over former UFC champions Fabricio Werdum (twice), Brock Lesnar, Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir and Vitor Belfort (twice).

Sakai (15-1-1) has put together a nice run in the UFC. He has won six straight, including victories in his first four UFC fights. The Brazil native is coming off a split decision win over Blagoy Ivanov in May. Sakai, 29, has four KO/TKOs in those past six wins and is a promising, up-and-coming heavyweight.

In the co-main event Saturday, Ovince Saint Preux takes on Alonzo Menifield, which could be a passing of the torch in the light heavyweight division. Saint Preux (24-14) has lost four of his past six fights, and Menifield (9-1) — a surging knockout artist — was undefeated up until his last bout with nine finishes in nine pro victories.

Also on the card, unpredictable welterweight Michel Pereira meets Zelim Imadaev and Montana De La Rosa faces Viviane Araujo in a women’s flyweight bout with rankings implications.


Fight in progess:

Women’s flyweight: Montana De La Rosa (11-5, 4-1 UFC, +160) vs. Viviane Araújo (8-2, 2-1 UFC, -179)


Results:

Men’s bantamweight: Hunter Azure (9-1, 2-1 UFC) defeats Cole Smith (7-2, 1-2 UFC) defeats by unanimous decision

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Hunter Azure drops Cole Smith early in Round 1 with a left jab and a big right hook but doesn’t quite get the finish.

Azure is back on a winning track.

After being hit with his first pro loss in his last fight, Azure bested Smith via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in the UFC Fight Night opener Saturday.

The most significant offense by either man came in the first round when Azure dropped Smith with a combination. Smith was able to recover and rally in the first. He knocked Azure’s mouthpiece out with an elbow against the cage in a clinch and later had an armbar that Azure escaped.

In the second, Azure outgrappled Smith after escaping Smith’s back control. Smith went to the back again in the third round, Smith’s best of the fight. But Azure was never in any kind of trouble and he held on for the decision win.

Azure, 28, lost by second-round TKO to Brian Kelleher in May, his last bout. The Arizona resident is now 2-1 in the UFC after hooking on last year from Dana White’s Contender Series. Smith, a 31-year-old Canadian who trains in Thailand, has dropped two straight after earning his first UFC win last year.

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Still to come:

Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem (46-18, 11-7 UFC, -155) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-1-1, 4-0 UFC, +135)

Light heavyweight: Ovince Saint Preux (24-14, 12-9 UFC, +110) vs. Alonzo Menifield (9-1, 2-1 UFC, -130)

Welterweight: Michel Pereira (23-11, 1-2 UFC, -115) vs. Zelim Imadaev (8-2, 0-2 UFC, -105)

Men’s featherweight: Brian Kelleher (21-11, 5-4 UFC, -350) vs.Ray Rodriguez (16-6, 0-0 UFC +285)

Middleweight: Bartosz Fabinski 15-3, 3-1 UFC, -160) vs. Andre Muniz (19-4, 1-0 UFC, +140)



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