Junior Dos Santos said something interesting this week.
“I think it’s the ultimate test for my striking," Dos Santos said. "He’s a very strong guy, good, but I trust in myself a lot and I try for the knockout in all of my fights. Regardless of him being a striker or not, I’m going for the knockout.”
Now, he might just be trying to cause confusion by saying one thing when he has every intention of doing the other, but trying to predict what will happen in this fight is difficult. Alistair Overeem is a K-1 Grand Prix winner and that puts him right at the top of the tree when it comes to kickboxing.
His stand up is not good by MMA standards—it's good by any standard. He is one of the few fighters in the sport who you can look at and say 'there is maybe no-one in the world better at doing that than him'.
Brock Lesnar was like a rabbit in the headlights and had no answer for Overeem's assault of punches, knees and kicks. Dos Santos is definitely not as good a kickboxer, but he is a better boxer. His hands are fast enough for him to have pursued a pro career had he chosen to.
So, when Dos Santos says he is going to stand with Overeem he might well be telling the truth. After all it's difficult to finish a fight with a punch or knee (although as Lesnar discovered, not impossible) but very easy to do the same thing with a single punch.
Plus, Overeem could be overconfident. As a K-1 champion he probably won't be worrying too much about getting knocked out, if anything he will be hoping that he can keep the fight standing long enough to launch his brutal offense.
Even though Dos Santos has a brown belt in BJJ he is not a fighter known for shooting for takedowns, if the fight does end up in a grappling situation he can handle himself, but he doesn't necessarily need to be the one to take it there.
People take one look at Overeem's K-1 credentials and assume that he doesn't have much by way if BJJ, but they are definitely wrong. He's got plenty of submission wins and favors standing guillotines, kimuras and armbars.
He's not a novice on the ground, but like Dos Santos, he is also not too much of a wrestler. It's the sort of fight where one of the fighters might decide to shoot for a takedown just for the sake of surprise.
Will both men back their stand up skills and leave the ground game for later? Or will tactics come into play, and the boxer or kickboxer attempt to defy expectations by doing something a little bit different. A stand up war would be the best possible outcome for the fans and I have a feeling that, just this once, what the public wants might be what the public gets.