Is Alistair Overeem The Future of The Heavyweight Division?
There was once a time in which Alistair Overeem was considered little more than a fringe contender flailing about, fighting to survive in a pool of 205 pound sharks. Those days are now half a decade and forty plus pounds distanced, as Overeem has firmly cemented himself as a top heavyweight contender in MMA’s contemporary landscape.
The dangerous Dutchman has been nearly perfect since 2007, toppling a string of worthy foes (contrary to the belief of many) and capturing numerous titles in the process. The massive 6’5″ striker defeated Paul Buentello in November of 2007 to capture the Strikeforce heavyweight title. Two more victories under the Strikeforce banner ensured Overeem remained the champion, but there was work to be done outside of the promotion for Overeem, and he showcased no hesitation in making goals reality.
2010 was unquestionably the greatest year of Overeem’s professional fighting career. He obliterated Todd Duffee in 19 seconds to pick up DREAM’s interim heavyweight title. Disposing of a highly touted prospect was just icing on the cake however, as “The Reem” had managed a feat no man has mirrored, before or since, winning the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix (by defeating Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki and Peter Aerts in a single evening), making him the only man to ever capture and hold MMA titles as well a K-1 kickboxing title simultaneously.
But, Overeem’s hard work would all culminate the following year in one amazing moment: his long awaited UFC debut, which took place on December 30th, 2011. Overeem was tapped to challenge the fan favorite and notoriously powerful wrestling ace, Brock Lesnar. On the line was a title shot against reigning champion Junior dos Santos, and Overeem entered the octagon for the first time with victory on his mind. Victory he would have, and to the shock of many viewers, Lesnar would prove to proffer no threat to Alistair; “The Reem” utilized powerful kicks and punches to the body of Lesnar, which yielded mercy from the referee, who’d seen the former champion battered enough. The bout lasted just 2:26, and immediately set Overeem on a championship path.
How Overeem will fair against the current champion remains to be seen, however, stylistically the fight screams excitement. In Junior dos Santos we have the division’s best boxer; in Overeem we have the division’s finest kickboxer. Both men possess superb takedown defense, and both have appeared quite durable in recent outings. While Overeem holds an edge in international experience, dos Santos is certainly the more comfortable of the two inside the octagon: eight of his fourteen career victories have been earned under the Zuffa banner. A victor in this proposed collision feels near impossible to predict, a scintillating fight however, is all but guaranteed.
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