For two rounds Alistair Overeem had his way with Antonio Silva, but the UFC 156 bout's final result—Silva defeats Overeem via knockout—functions as a cautionary tale that reminds us it ain't over until it's over.
After mounting essentially no offense for 10 minutes, Silva erupted at the outset of the fight's final frame, devastating Overeem with a flurry of catastrophic right hands. It was a beautiful attack by the Brazilian, but one made possible by Overeem's fatigue and general lack of belief that he might not be fast enough to simply step away from anything Silva could throw at him.
From the opening bell Saturday night, Overeem stood in front of Silva and moved forward with his hands low and chin up. He got away with it for awhile, but not long enough.
It's impossible to say Overeem looked anything but impressive for the most part, but he's always struggled in fights that last more than a round, and tonight's result only reinforces the perception that he's unable to sustain himself for 15 minutes.
Whether the fatigue that plagues him so is of the mental or physical variety is uncertain, but denial of the trend will no longer fly.
Overeem was clearly the faster fighter and he actually outmuscled Silva against the fence as well as on the mat. His striking was crisper than Silva's, his clinch was more offensive and his ground-and-pound effective. Yet he lost, and not because of a lucky punch or anything of that sort.
In Round 1 the Dutchman controlled the action by working from the clinch. Silva seemed wholly concentrated on defense, which led to a pretty calm five minutes for Overeem.
Round 2 was more of the same, only this time Overeem worked from Silva's guard rather than the clinch. Though Silva remained active off his back, Overeem did a fabulous job of keeping his opponent on the defensive, controlling him for the better part of the round.
Overeem attempted to pin Silva against the fence to open Round 3, but his sloppy charge undid all of his previous good work. It presented Silva with a gaping opening to land at will, and land at will he did. And once he did, he just kept going.
Not to take anything away from Silva, who kept focused and didn't miss the opportunity when it came, but by Round 3 the bout was clearly Overeem's to lose—and lost it was what he did. He essentially gave a free shot to Silva and that just isn't something you get away with against such a massive fighter.
Chalk it up to stamina issues, carelessness or mental fatigue, but "The Reem" basically collapsed in this one.
It was a big win for Silva and an even bigger loss for Overeem.