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Alexey Oleynik steps in to face Alistair Overeem in UFC St. Petersburg main event

Alexey Oleynik steps in to face Alistair Overeem in UFC St. Petersburg main event
Aleksei Oleinik will headline his second successive UFC event in Russia after it was reported that the submission ace will replace compatriot Alexander Volkov against Alistair Overeem in the UFC St. Petersburg main event.

The UFC's second Russian event, to be held in St. Petersburg in a little over two weeks' time on April 20, has a brand new main event according to Oleynik who posted the news on his Instagram, saying "see you on April 20 in St. Petersburg."

The reason for Volkov being removed from the card has not been revealed at this time. RT Sport reached out for a comment from Volkov's coach Taras Kiyashko, but the latter said that fighter's team will "wait for an official statement from the UFC" before talking on the matter. 

Oleynik headlined at the UFC's first visit to Russia last September where he defeated the ever-popular Mark Hunt by first round submission - the 45th such victory of Oleinik's 69-fight career.

He had been slated to face American fighter Walt Harris in Canada on May 5th, though that has apparently been shelved to fill in the short notice gap on the St. Petersburg card a few weeks' prior. Harris, ESPN reports, will be handed a new opponent. 

The submission specialist has won six of his eight UFC bouts, including wins against Hunt and Travis Browne, and hasn't suffered a controversial defeat since a November 2017 reverse against Curtis Blaydes in Madison Square Garden.

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Alistair Overeem, meanwhile, hasn't fought since defeating another Russian fighter - Sergey Pavlovich - in Beijing, China, last November. 

While the UFC have not yet commented on the new St. Petersburg main event, or the reasons for Volkov's withdrawal, official word is expected later today.