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From Three Belts to Obscurity: The Unfulfilled Hype of Alistair Overeem
Less than three years ago, Alistair Overeem was on top of the combat sports world. He was the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, the Dream interim heavyweight champion, and incredibly, the K-1 Grand Prix champion. Since making the move to heavyweight and gaining a massive amount of muscle, his career had skyrocketed. Amidst rumors of heavy performance-enhancing drug use, ‘The Demolition Man’ mauled all comers en route to a cadre of title belts. He was expected to soon make his way to the UFC and complete his championship clean sweep.
And for a while, things went as planned. He made his UFC debut at 2011’s year-ending UFC 141, demolishing former champion inside of one round with a vicious kick to the body. This earned him his expected title shot, and he was to face champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 146. That is, until a surprise drug test at a pre-fight press conference yielded extremely high testosterone levels and scratched the fight, earning Overeem a suspension in the process. He came back to face Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva at UFC 156, but after winning the first two rounds, he was brutally knocked out with a highlight reel combo in the last frame.
Despite the loss, Junior dos Santos had dropped the title back to Cain Velasquez at UFC 155. So Overeem still had his match against former champion JDS, but again, it was just not to be. Overeem suffered an injury that forced the UFC to clamor for his replacement, eventually enlisting heavy-handed Samoan Mark Hunt. JDS and Hunt fought a classic battle at UFC 160, with dos Santos pulling out the victory with a beautiful spinning wheel kick in the third.
As for Overeem, he finds himself with a pivotal tilt with Travis ‘Hapa’ Browne at UFC on Fox Sports 1:Boston. It’s a bout where the winner can surge to the top of a short list for worthy title contenders at 265, and the winner will find themselves forced to the bottom of the totem pole. Even though he sits at #5, Overeem has been very underwhelming throughout his tumultuous UFC career. He remains winless since his debut victory over Lesnar. And that’s not a surprise to many fans, who’ve argued for years that Overeem was only a product of PEDs who fought overseas in a successful attempt to avoid the strict regulating commissions in place in the U.S.
That’s up for debate, but one thing is not, and that’s the fact that Overeem is without a doubt a world-class striker. His chin has never been the best, dating back to his days as a light heavyweight in Pride, but he does have an underrated grappling game which features an absolutely vicious guillotine. However, all that will be for naught if Overeem continues to get knocked out, fail drug tests, get suspended, and withdraw from fights.
He definitely faces a stiff challenge in the form of Browne, who suffered his only loss to Bigfoot after badly injuring his hamstring last year; otherwise he very well may have won that bout. Browne’s a hungry young fighter who wants nothing more than to rise to the top. And he’s doing so very quietly, so Overeem would be best served to not underestimate Browne as he did Bigfoot. Otherwise, a man thought to be almost a shoo-in for UFC champion will continue a disappointing fade into irrelevancy.
Are you surprised at where Overeem currently stands? Will he ever return to the lofty position he once enjoyed?