In less than a month, it will be the two-year anniversary of Alistair Overeem signing with the UFC. During that period, most analysts and fans have shaken their heads regarding everything he’s been involved in. They shook their heads in awe when he demolished Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. Then they shook their heads in disgust when he failed the pre-fight drug test, which cost him a heavyweight title shot against Junior dos Santos.
Everyone was excited to see him return to face Antonio Silva and was confident that he would knock him out early. After claiming he was going to destroy him, he ended up gassing out and acting arrogant leading towards a knockout defeat. Everyone was shaking their heads and continued to shake when he was unable to fight dos Santos again due to injury.
It’s safe to say that his UFC career has been mostly frustrating and infuriating to follow. Everyone knows how decorated he is a striker and has proven in the past how dominant he can be. A new winning streak was supposed to start against Travis Browne last night. Similar to the Silva fight, everything seemed to be going to plan before fatigue and poor technique set in once again.
Overeem used his power to manhandle Browne against the cage, before landing his patented knees. He wasn’t fazed by Browne’s wild head kicks and looked confident in his striking. Then he cornered Browne and started landing vicious knees to the body. Even though Browne expertly defended it, you could see how powerful Overeem’s punches were as well.
He may argue that the fight should have been stopped, but there is one main reason why I don’t feel bad for him. It couldn’t have been more obvious that he hit Browne with an illegal knee to the face, while Browne had his own knee on the ground. I’m shocked that Mario Yamasaki didn’t stop the fight for a moment, considering he’s always been an excellent referee. Despite the illegal knee, Browne hung in there and proved that he can take punishment.
In the back of my mind, I kept repeating to myself that this is the time that Overeem has to prove he’s truly back. This is when he has to dig deep, after using an enormous amount of energy in trying to finish off Browne. The questions about his conditioning were going to be truly tested early. He was obviously tired, but for some reason he kept going forward with his hands down. You can label it being as arrogant, but it should be better known as stupidity. He should have known that Browne has serious knockout power.
After a few more kicks, Browne noticed that Overeem was starting to feel the effects of his body kicks. Then he connected with a crane kick and a few hammer fists later ended the fight, which led to another moment of head shaking involving an Overeem fight. Everything that could have gone wrong from poor defending to fatigue had occurred. It makes matters worse that it was in the first round rather than the third round, which I felt was the realistic time he could be finished.
It goes to show you once again that the physical appearance of a fighter doesn’t mean he is in the greatest shape. Daniel Cormier doesn’t look like the most in shape fighter, yet he is relentless for all 15 or 25 minutes of a fight. How Overeem gassed out after one barrage of punches and knees was hard to watch. It was tough to watch, as someone who truly believed he could become heavyweight champion and have the longest title reign in UFC history.
Now it’s tough to see him even earning a title shot ever again. We’ve seen that in the heavyweight division that if you win three fights in a row, you could very well earn a title shot again. Frank Mir proved that after Shane Carwin knocked him out in devastating fashion at UFC 111. He went on to win three fights in a row, including the legendary submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
The issue with Overeem is that fighters are starting to see the openings in his defense and notice how weak his chin is. It’s shocking to see a K1 champion have such a weak defense for his opponents’ striking. Some may say it’s the Dutch style in his stance. Regardless of his stance, he needs to start keeping his hands up at all times.Also, the heavyweight division continues to become one of the better all-around divisions in the UFC. Even on a two fight-losing streak, you could see him facing Mark Hunt or the loser of the Frank Mir-Josh Barnett fight. Those are three top-level fighters, who are proven finishers.
After tonight it makes you wonder if Overeem can truly win against top competition. The win over Brock Lesnar was impressive, but we could all say that Lesnar was already on the decline at that point in his career. It was only a few years ago, when Dana White was questioning his ranking and was waiting to see him face top competition. There is a major difference in fighting the likes of Antonio Silva and Travis Browne compared to Todd Duffee and Brett Rogers. It seems to be that Dana’s belief was true about his value being inflated due to facing weaker opponents.
His career is now at a crossroads and he’s going to need to make serious changes in his training camp. The truth is out about Overeem’s lazy defense and vulnerable chin, along with his conditioning. He may be one of the best strikers in the world, but that means nothing without cardio and the ability to defend.
The hype train has officially ended with Alistair Overeem. It will take a long-hard journey to get the buzz back that he had only one year ago. Hopefully his over confidence can turn into being more focused and trying to work on his cardio. If he doesn’t change, this could be similar to Mirko Cro Cop who flopped in the UFC after coming into the Octagon with some major buzz from his success in Pride.
Unlike Overeem, Cro Cop always came to fight and respected his opponents. After two consecutive devastating knockouts, we can only hope that he learns from his shortcomings. He needs to recuperate from his horrendous year and come back rejuvenated in 2014. It’s his best hope if he wants to regain the momentum he once had.
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