Prior to UFC Vegas 61, UFC heavyweight veteran Aleksei Oleinik explained why he almost pushed for a delay to his fight against Ilir Latifi.
This weekend at UFC Vegas 61, Oleinik entered the Octagon for the 17th time in what was his 78th professional outing in MMA. Across a lengthy career, the Russian has shared the cage with the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Chael Sonnen, Alistair Overeem, and Fabrício Werdum, and picked up an incredible 47 submission wins along the way.
Despite turning 45 this past summer, Oleinik remains as active as ever. His appearance in Las Vegas on Saturday marked the sixth straight year that he’s fought multiple times in.
While his career and ongoing ability to lace the gloves multiple times each year would suggest some sort of age-defying ability, Oleinik has admitted that he’s feeling the toll of constant training — so much so that he even considered postponing his bout against Latifi at last night’s UFC Vegas 61 event.
Oleinik: “I Am Mentally Exhausted”
During an interview with Telecom Asia Sport prior to UFC Vegas 61, Oleinik was asked whether anything has been different about his latest training camp. The Russian admitted that recovery is becoming a longer process, which in turn diminishes his motivation and leaves him “mentally exhausted.”
“I can admit that my body finds it difficult to recover. I feel exhausted by the end of the week,” Oleinik said. “Sometimes my willpower hardly helps me perform some basic functions such as getting up, packing my bag, driving to the gym, and having a warm up. Everything is alright, but it’s really hard to recover. I am mentally exhausted.”
When questioned on whether he’d considered delaying his return to the Octagon, “The Boa Constrictor” affirmed that he had, but noted that his successful re-entry into the win column earlier this year has pushed him through.
“I have, but when you are encouraged by your victory, you feel you are strong, that’s why I decided to take up the challenge,” Oleinik stated. “I feel that there’s life in the old dog yet, although I am (45) and fight against 25, 28-year-old boys who are young and huge. But I beat them somehow.
“I still work with the strongest and coolest fighters in the gym, but they know that I have two or three positions they will never get out of, even the UFC and Bellator tops. I have a trick that always works,” Oleinik added.
Oleinik also went on to discuss the financial side of things. As a long-tenured veteran, the Kharkiv native is on a lucrative pay package. And with no incoming funds from beyond the cage, Oleinik suggested that he can’t afford to miss out on fight checks through postponements.
“I have gotten to the point where I’m earning good money for it. If I don’t fight, I won’t get them. And this is a lot of money you can live on for a long time,” Oleinik continued. “I have no business or other source of income, I have been training and coaching for my whole life, and my family is quite big. My knowledge of martial arts is my greatest asset.”
Following his March success, “The Boa Constrictor” admitted that he was considering retirement. But having been persuaded to return by the UFC, Oleinik made his return last night. Unfortunately for the veteran, he would ultimately come out on the losing end of a unanimous decision to Latifi, who himself hinted at retirement following the victory.
While a win could have kept Oleinik active under the UFC banner, last night’s defeat could mark the end of the Russian vet’s Octagon tenure, especially given these comments that preceded last night’s bout.
Do you believe we’ll see Aleksei Oleinik compete inside the Octagon again?