When Alistair Overeem joined the UFC in December 2011, he was riding an 11-fight unbeaten streak and was collecting titles in other promotions with ease. Despite his many accolades, questions remained about Overeem, specifically could he hang with the best of the best in the UFC?
The UFC matchmakers wasted no time in putting Overeem to the test.
His first fight with the promotion was against former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the main event of UFC 141. Overeem handled himself well in that matchup, using his superior striking to send Lesnar packing from the UFC and the sport of MMA at the 2:26 mark of the first round.
For his next fight, Overeem was matched up against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
That fight told a different tale.
Overeem oozed confidence going into the bout. Everything about him seemed to suggest that he felt Silva was just a bump in the road before his ultimate destination, a UFC heavyweight title shot.
Overeem’s hubris may have led to his downfall.
Speaking of that fight on UFC Tonight, Overeem said, “What happened was he knocked me out cold. I think there was a little bit of an under-estimation. He’s a dangerous guy. He has heavy bones. That was a costly price to pay.”
The price that Overeem paid was a brutal third-round knockout that sent his stock tumbling and brought back the questions it appeared Overeem had answered with his win over Lesnar.
Overeem said the loss to Silva taught him many things:
“I’ve learned all the lessons I could have. I took some time off to overthink everything that wasn’t right. In my own way, I’ve been fixing everything. I’ve been in camp for four months, and I feel great. I look forward to fighting again in 12 days.”
Those lessons will be put to the test when Overeem faces Travis Browne on Aug. 17 in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 26.
Overeem seems confident heading into this fight—but not overconfident:
“I’m a striker, and I’m looking for that striking game. I also have a submission game, and I also have some wrestling. I’m all around. I think I’m especially going to beat him in the experience. I have so many more fights than he has. He’s very aggressive, but my experience is going to be the turning point."
This bout could be a turning point in the careers of both fighters. Both have recent defeats at the hands of Silva, (Browne was TKO’d by Silva in October 2012) both are ranked in the top 10 in the heavyweight division, and both desperately need a win on Aug. 17 if they want to get a title shot any time in the near future.
Things will be interesting in Boston.