Are Alistair Overeem's Days as a Top UFC Heavyweight Contender Over?

Matt MolgaardCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2013

Photo courtesy of MMAFighting
Photo courtesy of MMAFighting

That's a question that’s likely been burning in the minds of fans since Alistair Overeem’s shocking knockout loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156.

Throughout the career of “The Reem” two issues have frequently surfaced as seeming points of weakness: Overeem’s inability to absorb heavy firepower and a questionable gas tank. We witnessed both of these problems rear their heads at UFC 156.

We also saw another major flaw in the Dutchman’s game: overconfidence.

Overeem entered the bout with a smirk on his face, and he fought with that same sense of invincibility through two rounds. However, his lack of regard for Silva’s offensive capabilities came back to bite him in the rear as the third round of their scheduled 15-minute affair began.

Visibly tired, Overeem charged forward, meeting his Brazilian foe head-on in the center of the Octagon. Silva responded with a crisp shot that had Overeem immediately backing up. Back against the cage, Overeem was blasted with a lengthy series of unanswered punches.

Out on his feet, the Team Blackzilians rep finally collapsed, a beaten heap of hype, deflated and defenseless.

The loss eliminated what was widely considered to be champion Cain Velasquez’s top contender (assuming he made it past Silva) and halted a five-year unbeaten streak for Overeem. It also played a key part in Overeem’s drastic divisional descent.

Overeem may very well bounce back, just as vicious as ever. But with nearly 14 years and 49 fights banked as a professional mixed martial artist (and 14 under K-1 rules), one must wonder whether “The Reem” has another solid run at the title in him, especially competing in the talent-rich UFC.

If Overeem is incapable of withstanding punishment from heavy-handed strikers, guys like Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Shane Carwin and Mark Hunt will always present imminent danger.

There’s no way Overeem holds his place on the UFC roster and manages to avoid each of these men.

The cardio of “The Reem” could also prove detrimental to his career.

There are a number of heavyweight competitors under the UFC banner who are fit enough to battle five hard rounds. If Overeem’s gas tank is running low inside 15 minutes, how can he hope to keep pace with well-conditioned machines like Daniel Cormier?

Even if Overeem rediscovers his confidence quickly, he’s got some technical gaps to fill.

The UFC isn’t the platform for a fighter to begin experimenting with change. Inside the Octagon the elite are already fully prepared, and any fighter playing catch-up could find himself in a nasty position.

As much as I hate to say it, Overeem’s days as a top-flight threat to the heavyweight championship are likely over.

He’s now in a position in which he must re-ascend the mountain. And with men like dos Santos and Cormier floating about the ranks, chances are fair that he stumbles long before reaching the summit once more.

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