What a year for heavyweight fights: first, Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez, and now, Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem. I'm not sure which fight I'm more excited about.
UFC 141—the event that is slated to showcase this heavyweight war—is still a considerable amount of time away, but the hype for the fight is already surreal.
Only a day after the lineup was announced, predictions from the MMA community have come in abundance as to who will win this heavyweight match-up.
I have all the respect in the world for Alistair Overeem, but I cannot see him beating Brock Lesnar in this fight, and here is why.
With the exception of Fabricio Werdum, who has Alistair Overeem fought that could possibly be considered a serious threat to him? If you look at Overeem's last 12 opponents, you will find that some of them have more losses than wins or as many losses as wins. Gary Goodridge and James Thompson are representative of the quality of fighters that Overeem has beaten in the last three years.
In the fight against Werdum, Overeem's performance was a bad as Werdum's. Overeem refused to engage on the ground and Werdum actually landed more significant strikes, with more strikes overall than the famed kick-boxer.
Whenever Overeem has faced "top-level" talent, you will find that he has lost. Some of the more challenging and threatening fighters Overeem has faced have beaten him. Fighters like Antonio Rogerio Nogueria, "Shogun" Rua, Ricardo Arona, Chuck Liddell and Sergei Kharitinov are some of the bigger names that Overeem has faced. Overeem has been knocked out (or submitted due to punches, in the case of Ricardo Arona) by every one of these opponents. This is simply not what you would expect from a fighter that many claim to be one of the best strikers in the world.
The point is, Overeem's weaknesses are revealed against tougher and more superior fighters, and he has always struggled to triumph against some of the bigger names in the sport. Overeem's wins over lesser-known fighters who did not pose a threat to him have garnered the fighter lot of hype and an aura of invincibility.
This will be an issue for Overeem when he takes on Lesnar because...
Take a look at Brock Lesnar's record, and you will find that he holds wins over some of the biggest names in the division. Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Shane Carwin have all been finished at the hands of Lesnar.
Unlike Alistair Overeem, Lesnar has not lost to every one of the "big names" he has fought. He has been consistently tested against the tougher fighters in the division, and has triumphed the majority of the time.
So, yes, Overeem has been fighting for longer than Lesnar, but Lesnar has had more experience facing and beating the "big names" that he has fought—whereas Overeem has succumbed to the tougher adversaries that he has faced.
The point is, Lesnar is more than used to fighting difficult opponents. Facing a fighter that has generated an undefeated streak of 11 by fighting a lot of journeymen and fighters, ones that did not pose a significant threat to him, is not going to pose as much of a risk or challenge for Lesnar. Again, because Lesnar has proven his position in the heavyweight division and lived up to the hype by beating legitimate contenders in the division.
Brock Lesnar is coming off of a major surgery after his second battle with diverticulitis, and it is reported that he is healthy and ready to train for the fight against Overeem.
"The guy's been working up on a farm up in Canada all summer," Dana White said of Lesnar. "He's 100 percent. His surgery went great, he's 100 percent, he's getting back into training in the next couple of weeks."
Brock Lesnar had this to say in a video that his sponsor, Fusion Ammo, released: “My health is 100 percent. I feel great.”
“My motivation is there. I want to get on the map again. I want to become the UFC heavyweight champion again. I believe I will do that.”
Lesnar has defeated a potentially life-threatening illness twice and is raring to get back into the octagon.
At the age of 34, Lesnar wants to prove that he can still make a run for the UFC heavyweight championship, and he knows that a win over Alistair Overeem will get him a shot at the winner of the bout between dos Santos and Velasquez.
Lesnar also wants to prove to the world that he has improved his stand-up game since his loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. What better way to show the world that he has improved his stand-up game than a win over the K-1 Champion, Alistair Overeem?
Brock Lesnar is arguably the biggest heavyweight the UFC has ever seen. He has used his physically-imposing frame and incredible strength to his advantage in order to become the UFC heavyweight champion and make two successful defenses before losing to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
Unlike Overeem, Lesnar has only ever competed in the heavyweight division. When Lesnar is not fighting, he weighs between 280 and 290 pounds—outsizing every man to step inside the octagon with him by quite a margin.
Overeem has fought in the light-heavyweight division (known as the middleweight division in Pride). He was a fairly large light-heavyweight, but he did not outsize any of his opponents by much, if at all.
Overeem respects Lesnar's strength: "It can go either way. I'm not sure if I would still be standing if Brock hits me on the chin. He's an unpredictable, strong, explosive guy."
Check out B/R's Blake Dreisbach news piece where Overeem states this, here.
Overeem has never faced anyone as big as Lesnar and will struggle to keep control of Lesnar, especially in the wrestling/grappling department. He will not be able to match the former professional wrestler's strength and natural power. Which leads to the point that...
This is a no-brainer.
Lesnar is a former NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion, amassing a phenomenal record of 106-5 during his collegiate years of competition.
Alistair Overeem is great off his back and knows his way around submissions. However, he has never been tested against a great wrestler and, at UFC 141, he has been thrown into the deep end against a wrestler like Lesnar.
Combined with his strength and power, Lesnar can use his wrestling skills to keep Overeem down and keep him in control, both on the ground and in the clinch.
Furthermore, Lesnar has shown that he actually has tremendous cardio strength. I mean this in the sense that, yes, Lesnar does get tired and, yes, he does slow down as the fight progresses into the later rounds—but he does not gas out completely. In fact, it is his cardio that has saved him from Randy Couture and Shane Carwin.
Alistair Overeem has only had five fights go to a decision. Is that a testament to his ability to finish his opponents? Maybe. But then you have to consider the opponents that he has defeated, linking back to the first point I made: He has been finished by the majority of the "big-names" he has faced in the very first round.
In his fight against Fabricio Werdum, Overeem slowed down and was as sloppy as Werdum as the rounds progressed. Overeem's cardio has always been in doubt and he will struggle if the fight gets taken into the later rounds, especially with Lesnar lying on top of him.
Lesnar is great from the top position. If he can get Overeem to the ground, he can deliver ground and pound to neutralize Overeem's submissions skills, echoing what he did against Randy Couture, which ultimately proved very successful for Lesnar.