Aleksei Oleinik can’t give the secret to his longevity, because there isn’t one. Rather, the reason he’s appeared in upwards of seventy professional fights, dating back to the 90s, is a collection of factors.
“Nothing special. I just don’t give up, even when [things are] very, very difficult,” he told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 6 media day. That event, headlined by Oleinik against Derrick Lewis, will mark fight number seventy-four for “The Boa Constrictor.”
“I train, always. Any time. I eat good food. I have a family. My family helps me in my preparation. I have many fans,” he added. Then there’s plain old will power. “My will to always be better and better and better.”
Oleinik has some company with him in Las Vegas this weekend. American Top Team teammate Omari Akhmedov fights Chris Weidman in the co-main event on Saturday. “I think this is very cool for our gym, American Top Team,” he said.
In Oleinik’s own fight, there are certain expectations. “The Black Beast” is a powerful force. Oleinik is the slick submission expert. You might as well rename the Ezekiel choke to the Oleinik choke. But asked about his plans, he kept mum.
“Of course you don’t know my game plan, and I hope Derrick won’t too,” Oleinik quipped. “Because if he knows about my game plan, it’s terrible difficulty.”
Oleinik said the key is not to do what your opponent expects. “This is like chess. You must always [take] different steps,” he suggested.
Still, it’s not all that likely that Oleinik is about to throw caution to the wind and decide to trade bombs with Lewis. He knows the danger his opponent poses, after all. “He’s explosive, he’s smart. He’s stayed in tough fights many, many times. This is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.”
One thing that’s hard to prepare for is an opponent’s size, but Oleinik is blessed with a large roster of opponents at ATT. “In American Top Team, we have many guys with this big, big weight. I’m the smallest heavyweight in the UFC. My weight now is 225lbs, I’m the smallest. Any heavyweight is bigger than me,” he said. “We have at American Top Team many guys that are 280, 300lbs. This was a good for my training, for my preparation for this fight.”
So did he get those training partners down easily? Oleinik answered with a laugh. “But I prepared for everything. Takedowns, striking technique, clinch, everything.”
Veteran heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik returns this Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 6, which airs live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).