Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returns to the Octagon on Friday after 14 months out of action, and he welcomes Alistair Overeem to the organization.
After defeating Randy Couture for the heavyweight title, Lesnar won back-to-back fights against Frank Mir and Shane Carwin before losing to Cain Velasquez by technical knockout at UFC 121.
A second battle with diverticulitis sidelined Lesnar, but the polarizing heavyweight is back and he's slated to face one of the most experienced fighters in the division.
Overeem fights for the sport's premier organization for the first time, but with 47 professional fights to his credit, the "Demolition Man" brings dynamic striking to the Octagon. A former champion in Strikeforce and Dream, Overeem's world class striking makes him arguably the toughest test of Lesnar's career.
Considering the magnitude of this fight, Bleacher Report gathered insight from some of the sport’s most knowledgeable coaches and talented fighters.
UFC Middleweight: Mark Munoz
"I believe that this fight is going to be decided where each of their strengths lie. If it stays up on the feet, Overeem is going to have his way with Lesnar. If Lesnar can get Overeem down, Lesnar will win.
"Either way, it is going to be a highly anticipated clash of the titans main event fight! I can't wait!"
"If the same Brock showed up the night he fought Frank Mir the second time, I believe he would win, but I feel he has had too long of a layoff with some serious injuries."
"This and the fact that he will not have a huge size advantage over the very powerful and accurate Overeem, coupled with knowing Brock does not like to get hit... I'm predicting Overeem by TKO in the second (round)."
UFC Featherweight: Leonard Garcia
"I like Overeem because of his striking, just hope the UFC don't get to him."
UFC Welterweight: Chris Cope
"Brock is a freak athlete and I know that first hand from actually training with him on 'TUF 13'. He is more powerful than any heavyweight and moves like a lightweight.
It is true that he does not like to get hit and that striking is his weakness, but Overeem doesn't like being on his back and his weakness is his wrestling."
"I say Uncle Brock TKO's Overeem in the second (round)."
UFC Featherweight: Bart Palaszewski
Team Quest Coach: Gustavo Pugliese
"This is a tough one to pick, because I have to consider a couple things first. Brock hasn't fought in over 14 months. It is a fact that ring rust has a huge impact on fighters at least during the first half of the fight. I'm not even sure if his confidence is all there either. Brock also doesn't seem to do well against skilled strikers."
"If he doesn't find his rhythm in the first round that could be it. If Alistair tries to push the pace right off the bell, Brock is in trouble just like he was in his last fight."
"However, it didn't seem to be the case agaist Verdum, when Overeem looked very inactive not trying to finish it. Overeem never fought a wrestler like Brock, I think he will be hesitant to kick him to avoid take downs. If Brock takes him down multiple times, Alistair won't get up and Brock could pull a victory."
UFC Light Heavyweight: Luiz Cane
"Tough to call, but I'll go with Lesnar by TKO or Sub in the first round."
Strength & Conditioning Coach and Nutrionist: Mike Dolce
"I see it as a classic grappler versus striker matchup, which most of the MMA world will probably see it the same way. I do think that Overeem has a tremendous amount of experience that will come into play with this fight. Physically, they're matched up equally, the height, the weight, the strength."
"I think they're very similar. Even the tools available where on the feet Overeem has more tools than Brock, but on the ground Brock has more tools so I think the skill matchup is equal depending on where the range is going to be."
"So, I think this comes down to experience (and) I think Overeem has been in there with tougher guys, he's been fighting five-rounders more than Brock has and I say Overeem has the advantage to get the win."
UFC Lightweight: Clay Guida
"I usually go for the wrestler. But I think once Overeem puts his hands on Brock, he's gonna buckle. Brock has a hard time getting hit (and) all Overeem knows how to do is hit people in the face."
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