UFC 160 will feature two key heavyweight tilts. The co-main event of the evening will see top strikers Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem finally get inside the cage and duke it out as reported on UFC Tonight back in mid-February.
This fight is a long time in the making and will answer the question of just who is the best striker in MMA.
Dos Santos is coming off a beating by Cain Velasquez in a fight that saw him lose the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Overeem, on the other hand, was knocked out after winning the first two rounds vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. A win would have given him a title shot.
With the heavyweight division needing a contender, the winner of this bout could find himself as the No. 1 contender to the UFC crown.
This is the head-to-toe breakdown for the highly anticipated bout.
This is a closer category than some would believe.
Overeem, as a former K-1 world champion, is the easy pick to have the edge in this category. However, this is not strictly kickboxing, and he has not looked like the K-1 champion in several of his MMA bouts.
Dos Santos loves to box. He rarely mixes things up with kicks, but when you are as good as he is standing, it is hard to argue. Dos Santos is a devastating boxer in the Octagon.
When breaking down this category, it is Overeem's versatility that stands out. That is why he has a slight edge on the feet. He can trade hands, use brutal kicks and then destroy you with vicious knees. He has a complete game that we have not exactly seen from dos Santos.
If there is one single area that is definitive in this fight, it is this one. Overeem is not known for his superior grappling abilities, and dos Santos is a Nogueira black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Should dos Santos feel exceptionally threatened on his feet, he could look to take the fight to the ground, but Overeem has improved his takedown defense over the years.
The fight will most likely stay standing, but they will be prepared for the ground if it goes to the canvas. Dos Santos is simply the better fighter on the mat.
Dos Santos is clearly the better grappler, but don't expect him to use it much in this striking affair.
Edge: Dos Santos
This is not typically a category in these breakdowns, but it is of vital importance in this fight.
As we saw against Bigfoot Silva, Overeem has a tendency to get cocky and drop his hands. He will be more alert against dos Santos.
Dos Santos has been quite good in the defensive department throughout his UFC career, but Velasquez found many holes in their most recent meeting. Velasquez took him down at will and tagged him on the feet repeatedly.
The totality of dos Santos' defense is still better than Overeem's. Overeem has had lapses on the feet, and on the ground he is not nearly as tight defensively as one would like. That gives dos Santos many more opportunities to get through for the finish.
Edge: Dos Santos
Dos Santos' X-Factor: Mix It Up
Overeem's versatile stand-up attack should have dos Santos looking for other avenues of offense. Dos Santos should be ready to mix up his attack on the feet and threaten with potential takedowns.
That is not to say dos Santos should try to wrestle with Overeem, but when they clinch, he should try to change levels and take the strong striker to the mat.
On the feet, he can keep Overeem guessing with leg kicks. There should be no threat of being taken down, and it will keep him from being one-dimensional.
Overeem's X-Factor: Focus
After what happened in his last bout, this should be obvious. Overeem simply needs to stay focused.
Against the likes of dos Santos, he cannot afford to have a mental lapse and let his guard down. He will be knocked unconscious if that happens. It is that simple.
Overeem is an incredible striker, but I have more faith in dos Santos.
Overeem had an impressive streak, but he did not take on consistent top-flight competition. It made him look more impressive than he may have been against better fighters. Dos Santos has not had that same issue. He has taken on the top contenders in the UFC and defeated them all.
Then there is the issue of Overeem's chin. Bigfoot Silva, Sergei Kharitonov and Shogun Rua have all put his lights out. Dos Santos took hard shots from Velasquez and never quit. Overeem has the ability to knock him out, but with his striking defense and chin it's unlikely.
There are too many factors going against Overeem in this fight. Dos Santos will pick up the victory and get set to have another fight with Velasquez later in 2013.
Prediction: Dos Santos defeats Overeem by knockout in Round 2.