There have been rumors of Alistair Overeem using performance-enhancing drugs for years (Fight Line), but his nine-month suspension prior to UFC 146 (Fox Sports) brought concrete evidence to support the allegations.
Overeem's return to competition was extremely anticipated, but it is safe to say he didn't find the results he was looking for at UFC 156.
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva didn't just defeat him, he gave him a sound beating. He didn't control him on the ground (which was the way I thought he'd have to beat Overeem), he knocked him senseless in stand up.
This was an area where I, and many others believed he'd struggle to handle Overeem. The fact that this loss occurred after Overeem became presumably clean makes it look that much worse.
Silva is a quality fighter, so calling the outcome an upset is a little deceiving. Bigfoot has defeated Fedor Emelianenko and others in his career. This isn't some unknown and unaccomplished upstart that simply got lucky.
Overeem's reputation has always been a bit bigger than his actual skill level.
After all, he has lost 12 times in his MMA career, so there certainly was no aura of invincibility surrounding him. He is one of the most intimidating fighters in the world because of his size, and I admit even I got a little caught up in that aspect.
If one believes Overeem's success has been due to PED usage, then it is easy to see why someone of that mind would rejoice in the Reem's recent failure.
Legendary fighter Mirko Cro Cop certainly sounds like someone that fits that description. Fight Site quoted Cro Cop as follows:
translation was done by MixedMartialArts.com:
Silva is a natural heavyweight, and Alistair - for the first time since way back in 2007, when he began to gain huge weight – fought without the drugs he had used constantly for years, including testosterone and all the other s--- that goes with it.
Watching the weigh-in, I saw that his muscles mass was nowhere near his usual, he had the weight, but he wasn't nearly as carved out and defined, since he couldn't take anything because he was watched by the Athletic Commission.
This also reflects on the psyche of a man who's been using stuff to increase his strength, endurance, pain tolerance and aggressiveness for years, and now there was none of that. Alistair is an excellent fighter, but he still owes that excellence to something that's dirty and unpermitted, and, in the end, very dangerous to health.
It is hard to refute the opinions of one so close to the subject, and it is especially difficult to disagree when there are visual references like the examples Crop Cop mentions.
The visual differences are slight, but still noticeable if it's brought to your attention.
Overeem at UFC 146
Overeem at UFC 156
How much of Overeem's success has been due to alleged PED usage?
Even if you don't see the difference, or buy-in to the advantage of using PEDs, there is no doubting that Overeem fell flat with his reputation on the line.
Is his MMA career done?
No, not yet. But imagine what the talk will be if he loses his next fight? Fair or not, all of his success will be attributed to the PEDs he isn't allowed to take anymore, and he'll become a joke.
Overeem has put himself in a very tough position that he'll have to overcome with his own natural gifts. Can he prove Cro Cop and others wrong? We'll have to wait and see.