UFC 146: Reasons to Get Excited About Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem
The Ultimate Fighting Championship officially kicked off preparations for UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Overeem with a press conference in Las Vegas. The featured bout will put UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos against former K-1, DREAM and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem.
The UFC Heavyweight division has been in a state of flux in recent years. With a limited talent pool, putting on top-draw fights between fighters not named Brock Lesnar has proven difficult. However, with the addition of Overeem and other transplants from the Strikeforce brand, the division appears to be on its way to the forefront.
I would be lying if I said that just watching the faceoff yesterday didn’t get me pumped up for this main event. If for some strange reason you need a reason to get excited for this fight, here’s a few to help you along the way.
They’re Likeable Guys
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I always liked Junior dos Santos as a fighter, but after hearing his story on UFC Primetime, I liked him even more.
His humble beginnings, desire and down-to-earth persona made him very easy to cheer for. He’s shown himself to be very approachable and an all-around great person to be around. When he's training or fighting, he turns on a level of fierceness and a fire that doesn’t earn respect, but takes it by force.
Prior to his joining the UFC, I was not completely sold on Alistair Overeem. He seemed a bit cocky and arrogant and I questioned if he could hang with the best the UFC had to offer.
Once he arrived, he spoke with a confidence and swagger that was unlike any other heavyweight in the UFC. Granted, an alleged incident at a Las Vegas nightclub doesn’t bode well in the public eye, but it’s unclear as to what really happened that night.
The incident aside, Overeem’s confident stance prior to his fight with Brock Lesnar and eventual victory draws you into his persona. You almost can’t help but root for him to succeed.
Potential for a Knockout
I know this is probably one of the most overused clichés in all of mixed martial arts, but I truly believe that this fight “will not go the distance.”
Junior dos Santos has won 10 of his 14 career victories by knockout. Two of his opponents—Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin—were pummeled for three rounds and only by reasons unknown to man, they made it to the scorecards.
Dos Santos has stopped seven of his last nine opponents and none of his knockouts have come after the first round. His boxing and power has destroyed some of the UFC’s best and he could potentially put Overeem away with his powerful punching.
On the other hand, Alistair Overeem has also been a destroyer in his own right. The “Demolition Man” is undefeated in his last 12 MMA fights—11-0 with one no contest—and has finished 10 of the 11 opponents he defeated—five knockouts, five submissions.
Only two of his victories in that span have gone past the opening round. Overeem has explosive power, as demonstrated against former UFC champion Brock Lesnar.
Overeem needed less than three minutes to put away Lesnar. Both of these fighters love to strike and will be looking to test the other’s abilities. With arguably the two hardest strikers in all of MMA sharing the Octagon, it’s hard to imagine this fight reaching the fifth round.
The UFC heavyweight title has never been defended more than twice in a single title reign—Randy Couture’s three defenses were split across two title reigns.
Junior dos Santos will be looking for his first successful defense of the title that he took from Cain Velasquez in November 2011.
Having defeated some of the toughest names in the division just to make it this far, a win over Alistair Overeem could spell a new era in the heavyweight division.
His next potential matchup would be against the winner between Cain Velasquez—whom he finished in 64 seconds—and Frank Mir.
While Mir looks to be returning to his championship form, his ability to withstand punches has looked questionable at times (see Mir vs. Nogueira II and Mir vs. Carwin). That’s not very promising when facing a puncher like Dos Santos.
Overeem has done nothing but stock his trophy case with titles in recent years. Defeating Dos Santos would give Overeem victories against two of the strongest guys in the heavyweight division in recent years.
If he can defeat dos Santos, I would have no doubt that he could defeat Cain Velasquez, but Mir could pose a tougher challenge. Should Overeem win that fight as well, there’s really no one as of now who poses any significant threat to ending the reign of the “Demolition Man.”
Potential Fight of the Year
I will try to refrain from getting overly excited for this fight before it even takes place.
Though the first thing that comes to my mind with this contest is a brutal battle between gladiator-like strikers, I have already used that reference in the last six months for a fight that was more than deserving.
I do not wish to jinx it, but this fight definitely has the makings of a potential Fight of the Year candidate. I see both of these fighters coming in and looking to battle it out for a full 25 minutes.
I think there’s potential for fans to even see a decent amount of ground action in this fight. Overeem has 19 submission victories to his credit, while Junior dos Santos and his camp have constantly spoken of his supposed jiu-jitsu ability.
More than likely, this fight will remain standing until the finish. However, should one of the fighters start losing the striking battle, they could very well take the fight somewhere else.
No matter what, look for fireworks and a battle unlike any UFC heavyweight fight in recent memory.