High flying Michel “Demolidor” Pereira looks to earn his second victory in the Octagon as he faces off against Zelim Imadaev (Photo Credit: Michel Pereira Instagram)

UFC Vegas 9 takes place this Saturday from the promotion’s APEX facility in the heart of the desert with a card chock full of exciting match-ups. While MMA math rarely rings true, in this week’s deep dive we take a look into some of the more interesting stats and figures relating to the promotion’s September opener!

Stat #1: Alistair Overeem – Significant Strike Accuracy – 74%

Alistair Overeem (46-18, 1 NC) proved again that age is but a number in May, bouncing back from his late collapse against Jairzinho Rozenstruik to best Walt Harris, earning an efficient second round TKO victory. In his fourth straight main event the Dutch legend faces another up-and-comer and finds himself in a long line of heavyweight contenders, ultimately looking for another shot against the champ Stipe Miocic, because as everyone knows, Stipe tapped.

While Overeem ranks in the top 10 of the division’s all-time elite in 11 statistical categories, it’s his 74% significant strike accuracy that stands head and shoulders above all others (second is Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton at 65.6%). A former DREAM and Strikeforce champ, since joining the UFC “The Demolition Man” has fought and beaten five former UFC champs (Lesnar, Mir, dos Santos, Arlovski, Werdum) with 8/11 wins coming by way of KO/TKO.

At the top of this weekend’s card Overeem squares off against surging Brazilian contender Augusto Sakai (15-1-1), who’s riding a six fight unbeaten streak dating back three years. Muay Thai as a base, Sakai’s been able to best opponents with a +1.56 striking differential (which would place him ninth all-time in the division should he keep par in his fifth fight).

Stat #2: Marcos Rogerio de Lima – Average Fight Time – 4:23

Marcos “Pezao” Rogerio de Lima (17-6-1) is set to welcome Alexander “King Kong” Romanov (11-0) in the Moldovan’s UFC debut on Saturday. With 28 combined wins resulting in 26 finishes, the pair are slated to make it a quick affair but it might come as a surprise that de Lima’s average time in the Octagon is actually incredibly low. He holds the fourth spot in light heavyweight history at 3:18 per contest, with the total number inflated by his decision win over Adam Wieczorek in “Pezao”‘s move to 265 lbs in 2018.

Across the cage, and with a background in sumo, fans will get their first glimpse at the former Eagles Fighting Championship heavyweight stud Alexander Romanov. Equally impressive, boasting a perfect slate of wins by way of finish, Romanov has a penchant for wild striking and palm-to-palm throws allowing him to rag-doll opponents. With Romanov’s superior takedowns and de Lima’s kickboxing acumen, pay can be expected by the minute rather than by the hour.

Stat #3: Ovince Saint Preux – Total Octagon Appearances at 205 lbs – 20

Win or lose on Saturday, Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) will tie Jon Jones at the top of the all-time light heavyweight leaderboard with 21 total appearances under the UFC banner, a run that started in 2013 following a very successful career with Strikeforce. 12-9 total, “OSP” has faced top-flight competition including a title fight with Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 187 in 2016.

With a diverse arsenal of power, accuracy and superior grappling, Saint Preux has caused problems for many in the division, with Alonzo Menifield (9-1) the next challenge on Saturday. Looking to bounce back from his first career loss, all of Menifield’s wins have come by KO/TKO with all but two of his wins coming in the first round. The Fortis MMA product closes distance well and throws everything into his shots, which bodes well in producing an all-action co-main event!

Odd: High Flyers a Pick ‘Em

With Michel Pereira (23-11, 2 NC) and Zelim Imadaev (8-2) set to meet at welterweight, one thing’s for certain, fireworks. Pereira, known as much for his moonsaults and Superman punches as he is for his dancing abilities has been paired up with a proven finisher in Russia’s Imadaev who’s been able to finish each of his wins before seeing the third round.

Both fighters have faltered of late, with Imadaev dropping his first two with the promotion and Pereira gassing against Tristan Connelly in a major upset last September and losing by disqualification due to an illegal knee against Diego Sanchez in February.

With the uncertainty of the fight, a rollercoaster line has ensued that opened with Pereira a -135 favourite, dropping past -190 and now currently sitting at -115 with a large shift having been placed on Imadaev on Wednesday resulting in a quick 20 point variance.

When all’s said and done, this has FOTN potential so don’t blink!

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