Two years ago, Derrick Lewis agreed to a title fight just one month removed from a grueling battle in the Octagon. Although the circumstances were less than ideal, the fourth-ranked heavyweight couldn't pass on the opportunity to earn a UFC belt. His quest towards another opportunity continues on Saturday when he faces Aleksei Oleinik in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Oleinik. The meeting of top-10 heavyweights tops the Lewis vs. Oleinik fight card at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main UFC card set for 9 p.m. ET.
Lewis battled former champ Daniel Cormier in November 2018 and came up short amid nearly impossible circumstances, but he's now on track for another shot with two straight wins. In order to make it three, he will have to get past the No. 10-rated Oleinik, who has won four of his past six. Lewis is a -200 favorite (risk $200 to win $100), while Oleinik is +170 in the latest UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Oleinik odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman (-120) takes on surging prospect Omari Akhmedov (+100). Before making your UFC Fight Night picks for Saturday, make sure you see what SportsLine MMA analyst Brandon Wise has to say.
A CBS Sports editor specializing in MMA, Wise has been dissecting the sport for more than five years. He specializes in picking main-card fights for UFC, which has enabled him to be profitable every year. Wise is in his second year of consistently delivering winners to SportsLine members. He went a perfect 5-0 at UFC 239 and was 4-1 at both UFC 245 and UFC 249. He also nailed Khabib Nurmagomedov's destruction of Conor McGregor in 2018, Stipe Miocic's upset of Daniel Cormier, Holloway's downfall in 2019 and Justin Gaethje's TKO victory over Tony Ferguson in May.
Since the UFC returned following a two-month period of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has gone 37-19, while nailing the method of victory a remarkable 24 times. Last week, Wise advised SportsLine members to back Vicente Luque (-180) to get a knockout win against Randy Brown (+160) in a meeting of welterweight contenders. The analyst reasoned that the Brazilian's array so stances and strikes would give fits to Brown, and that's exactly what happened as the No. 10-ranked contender opened up his attack in the second round and earned the stoppage. Anyone who has consistently followed Wise is way up.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Oleinik fast approaching, Wise carefully has studied every matchup on the main card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for each fight. He's only sharing those selections here.
Derrick Lewis vs. Aleksei Oleinik expert preview
Wise knows the 35-year-old Lewis is popular with UFC fans because of his finishing ability and unfiltered interviews that often garner more attention than his fights. However, the Texan's stamina and ability to take damage have been question marks throughout his career.
Lewis has vowed to improve his conditioning, and the results can be seen with three of his last four victories going the distance. The outlier in that span was a knockout of Alexander Volkov at 4:49 of the third round.
His stamina likely will be tested by the savvy Oleinik, who will be looking to avoid power shots while trying to get the fight in his comfort zone on the mat.
The 43-year-old Russian has remained viable because of the relatively low level of damage he has taken throughout his career and his uncanny ability to end fights the moment he gets hold of a limb. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has won numerous grappling tournaments and also has five Performance of the Night bonuses in the UFC to his credit. You can see Wise's Lewis vs. Oleinik picks here.
Top UFC Fight Night predictions
We'll share one of Wise's UFC Fight Night main-card selections here: He is backing Beneil Dariush (-160) to get a stoppage victory against Scott Holtzman (+140) in a matchup of lightweight contenders.
The affable and versatile Dariush (18-4-1) is arguably one of the hottest fighters on the UFC roster. The 31-year-old Californian bounced back from a first-round knockout loss with four consecutive victories against upper-tier opponents. His streak includes stoppage wins over fellow prospects Drew Dober and Drakkar Close, whom he finished in the second round of their March battle.
Holtzman (14-3), 36, is 5-1 in his last six appearances in a stretch that dates to April 2017. The Tennessee native is a former lightweight champion in the Xtreme Fighting Championships promotion, where he went 6-0 in a 20-month span.
"Dariush is the more well-rounded fighter. Holtzmann has never been finished in his career but Dariush has the power to get the job done," Wise told SportsLine.
How to make UFC Fight Night picks
Wise also has strong picks for Lewis vs. Oleinik and every other bout on the main UFC Fight Night card. He's also backing an underdog who has the potential to "possibly end his opponent's career." You can see who it is, and get every pick for every fight on the UFC Fight Night main card, at SportsLine.
Who wins Lewis vs. Oleinik? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight on Saturday's main UFC fight card, all from the accomplished expert who has been profitable for five straight years, and find out.
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Oleinik odds (via William Hill)
Derrick Lewis (-200) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+170)
Chris Weidman (-120) vs. Omari Akhmedov (+100)
Darren Stewart (-180) vs. Maki Pitolo (+160)
Yana Kunitskaya (-230) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (+195)
Beneil Dariush (-160) vs. Scott Holtzman (+140)