Alistair Overeem underestimated the wrong giant at UFC 156.
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva shocked the world by knocking out the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion in the third round of the heavyweight grudge match.
While Overeem's overall fight game has improved over the years, there has been one prevalent weakness in his abilities that many either fail or refuse to recognize. This same weakness has cost him in past bouts against Chuck Liddell, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Overeem is phenomenal when he's the one pressing the action, but on his heels, he struggles to counter effectively and typically wilts in the close-quarter exchanges. This can even be seen at times in his Strikeforce bout against Fabricio Werdum.
At the start of the bout, Overeem did a tremendous job of keeping Silva's back to the cage and controlling the center of the Octagon, where he could keep enough separation to implement his kickboxing heavy striking offense.
Whenever Silva tried to close the distance, Overeem would initiate the clinch and work him over with knees against the cage. It was a flawless strategy that kept the fight on Overeem's terms and limited the possibility of him getting caught in the standup exchanges.
Overeem is the most complete striker in the heavyweight division, but people tend to forget his specialty lies in kickboxing and Muay Thai, not boxing. Silva's best chance at success was to close the distance and turn the fight into a boxing match.
After losing the first couple of rounds, Silva was no longer tentative on the feet, and he finally opened up out of desperation in the final round. Forced to counter on his heels, Overeem had no answer for Silva's boxing and fell at 0:25 of the third round.
Some will likely make the misconception that Overeem has a glass chin, but this is only a refusal to acknowledge the technical deficiencies in his boxing. It'll be interesting to see how Overeem handles this loss.
Does he go back to the drawing board and refine his technique, or will he just chalk the loss up as a minor speed bump in his path towards a UFC title shot?