Alistair Overeem: Keys to the Reem Showing He's Ready for UFC Gold vs. Silva

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 10:  UFC fighter Alistair 'The Reem' Overeem speaks during a presentation by Qualcomm at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at The Venetian on January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and is expected to feature 2,700 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Despite only one fight in the UFC Octagon, Alistair Overeem is just a victory against Antonio Silva at UFC 156 away from a heavyweight title shot against Cain Velasquez. 

Anyone who follows MMA outside of the UFC knows that Overeem is more than qualified to take on the champion. He's been an international star in the sport and hasn't suffered a loss since 2007. He has devastating power on the feet and is well-rounded enough to win wherever the fight goes. 

However, those that insist a fighter have some success in the UFC before earning a shot at the title will watch Saturday's bout with some sense of intrigue and skepticism.

Here's how Overeem can silence any remaining doubters and set up a showdown with the reigning champ.


Finish Him

UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is great at setting up interesting matchups, but it would appear that the deck is stacked heavily against Bigfoot in this case. 

Overeem is an overwhelming favorite (1/4 according to Bovada). Silva has lost two of his last three fights and was quickly dispatched by Velasquez by way of TKO in the first round. He rebounded with an impressive first-round knockout of Travis Browne, but he's not exactly a huge name in the division. 

Considering the favorable matchup and how easy it was for Velasquez to batter Silva in the first round, Overeem needs to win in impressive fashion. 

Overeem sent a big message to the division when he finished Brock Lesnar in just over two minutes, but he looked far less impressive in his lackluster decision victory over Fabricio Werdum. He needs to repeat the kind of performance he had against Lesnar if he wants to show that he's championship material.


Defend Takedowns

The most legitimate criticism of Overeem would be the level of competition on his resume. 

Because he spent a lot of time outside of the UFC, Overeem has fought plenty of opponents who were well below his level. Most noticeably, he lacks experience against the kind of high-level wrestling he will see against Velasquez if he is able to beat Silva. 

Overeem did a great job of keeping things upright against Lesnar, but the fight didn't go on long enough to really test his takedown defense. 

Silva is by no means a wrestling savant, but he is a big fighter who has the ability to bring opponents down. Overeem must once again prove that he can keep the fight standing against Silva. 

If Bigfoot is able to get the fight to the ground, Overeem has little chance of defending the takedown attempts of a wrestler like Velasquez. 


Avoid Getting Clipped

Despite no losses in six years, critics of Overeem will still cling to the notion that he has a weak chin. 

Overeem has 11 losses in his career and six of them have come by way of knockout. His latest loss, in 2007, was a first-round knockout loss to Sergei Kharitinov which capped a five-fight stretch in which Overeem went 1-4 in five fights. 

Considering some of those fights were against light heavyweights such as Mauricio Rua, Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Noguiera, it's easy to see why some would question his ability to absorb punishment. 

Silva is a big underdog, but he has a puncher's chance. Twelve of his 17 wins have come by way of knockout, and he certainly has the one-punch power to make the fight interesting. Overeem needs to show that he can avoid those bombs and bounce back if he does get clipped. 

If Overeem can dispatch of SIlva in dominating fashion, he'll make it very difficult for Velasquez to defend his UFC title.