Alistair Overeem: MMA, Kickboxing Legacy Stifled by Steroids

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Alistair Overeem: MMA, Kickboxing Legacy Stifled by Steroids
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

This past Saturday, Alistair Overeem suffered his second loss in a row at the feet and hands of Travis Browne on UFC on Fox Sports 1 at TD Garden in Boston.

The fight, which ended at 4:08 of the first frame, and pre-fight were hauntingly similar to his last loss against Antonio "Big Foot" Silva.

Overeem weighed in on Friday not flaunting his once pronounced superhero physique, but hunched by the weight of deflated pectorals, which hung like popped steroid balloons. He walked to the cage, less with the fierceness of an impending fight, but more with the bravado of entering a "Knockout of the Night" award ceremony.

The former K-1 kickboxing champion spent the better part of the fight dominating his opponent with punches, kicks and knees. And just when the audience was confident of the outcome, Overeem took a deep breath, dropped his hands, and got hit with a vicious knockout blow.

The opponent celebrated above him, like a float in a nightmare parade, while Overeem slumped into the canvas like a muscular bean bag chair.

And yet afterwards, little is heard about the opponent, perhaps slight murmurs of their determination and courage.

But their efforts are drowned out by the blitzkrieg of Overeem questions. Are his loses due to low testosterone, endurance or ego? Will or should the UFC cut the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion? What is Overeem's legacy?

For MMA fans and journalists, Overeem is MMA's version of Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. "The Reem," a former light heayweight prospect, seemingly overnight transformed into a heayweight, a comic book drawing, a chiseled mass of muscle.

Few speculated about the results, but Overeem promised it was due to a steady diet of weight lifting, protein and horse meat, in a 2010 interview with MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani. And shockingly that answer seemed to suffice.

Dream heavyweight champion. K-1 Grand-Prix heavyweight champion. Strikeforce heavyweight champion. The community became so entranced by his accomplishments, so mystified by his wins, that we did not stop to think if we should.

We were far too busy watching his mini-documentaries, creating Overeem highlight reels, watching his countless appearances on foreign television, and proclaiming Overeem as not only one of the greatest heavyweights but fighters of all time.

And then in 2011, UFC signed Overeem.

"The Demolition Man" dismantled former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the first round at UFC 141. And in return, the MMA community predicted the Dutchman would eventually wear UFC gold.

But then, Overeem failed a pre-fight drug test for a potential title bout against now former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. Overeem had a 14-1 testosterone-to-epitestotesrone (T/E), well over the allowed ratio rate of 6-to-1, according to ESPN.com.

Immediately, fans and journalists, ones who only revered the man's efforts, now stood on internet platforms claiming to have "known all along" about Overeem's steroid use. The community denounced his efforts, accomplishments and championship belts, saying they were all built on a false foundation. 

Overeem served a suspension and arrived back on the scene a physical shell of his former self, a melted mountain of muscle. MMAFighting.com released a report of extreme low levels of testosterone. And after these two knockout losses, that once superhero physique seems more super than hero.

Where he once walked through the community as a feared physical specimen, he now stumbles lonely and confused, searching for a past he may never find.

And if nothing changes, Alistair Overeem will be forever be remembered as a man who was morally and physically slayed by his own baton. Or steroid needle.

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