The older brother of current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, Valentijn Overeem (28-25), hopes to put some separation between his wins and the abundance of losses he's amassed over the course of his fifteen year professional career as he battles former K-1 Grand Prix runner-up Ray Sefo (2-0, 1-0) in heavyweight action on Saturday night. After a lengthy layoff from the sport following four straight losses back in 2005 and 2006, Overeem returned in 2008 without as much as a peep from the mixed martial arts community. Twenty-three losses and a bevy of spectacular losses to mediocre competition will do that to your image.
Since the return, Valentijn has record four victories and two defeats over the course of the last three years. He holds notable wins over Kazuo Takahashi and Tengiz Tedoradze within that time period, but ugly losses to unknowns Rafal Dabrowski and Nikolai Onikienko aren't convincing arguments that he's curbed his losing ways.
Surprisingly, Valentijn was once the older brother that Alistair Overeem, one of the MMA's most dominant heavyweight fighters today, idolized while growing up. Alistair has bloomed into one of the most technically-sound wrecking machines in the sport while Valentijn has continued to fizzle as nothing more than an exciting attraction.
Valentijn has never learned the fine arts of submission defense or the tactical advantage of distance striking, and the combination of the two glaring weaknesses have tied him down to a sinking cinder block in the ocean of mixed martial arts fighters. What he does bring to the table is a plethora of experience in the sport, something that Ray Sefo lacks.
As any hardcore fight fan would know, Sefo has an extensive background in kickboxing, culminating in a runner-up honor at the 2000 K-1 World Grand Prix final. Seventy-eight career kickboxing battles in which Sefo battled with the likes of Badr Hari, Semmy Schilt, Peter Aerts, Remy Bonjasky, and the great Ernesto Hoost. Sefo may not have years of mixed martial arts experience, but he has an entire lifetime of battle scars from fighting.
At 39 years old, Sefo doesn't have much in the tank in terms of making a miracle run at the Strikeforce heavyweight belt. He's banking on the wisdom of the trainers at Xtreme Couture to hone his skills to compete with more experienced wrestlers and grapplers, but he has yet to be challenged in those areas. Valentijn wont offer a glimpse into the progression of Sefo's ground game either.
Neither fighter is an overwhelming favorite in this clash of strikers, but Sefo's technical background in the art of kickboxing is a major focal point of this fight. Overeem's experience is enormous, but it isn't unfathomable that Sefo overcomes that advantage. Considering the fact that Overeem rarely works an effective top control game, Sefo shouldn't be worried about the thought of a chess match on the mat. Sefo maintains range and finds a home for his punches as Valentijn wildly fires off looping overhands. Sefo via TKO.