This weekend's stacked UFC 156 card features a number of big fights. One of the highlights is the night's co main event, as former Strikeforce/Dream/K-1 champion Alistair Overeem returns from a one year suspension to take on Antonio Silva. The last time Overeem was inside the Octagon, it was an impressive one round KO of Brock Lesnar that sent the former UFC Heavyweight champion into retirement. Overeem earned a title shot with that victory, but a subsequent positive drug test cancelled those plans. Now, The Reem is back and hoping to once again get into the title picture.
To get ready for the return of The Reem, let's revisit one of the places where he made his reputation as a brutal KO machine - K-1. From 2008-2010, Overeem was one of K-1's top heavyweights, putting together an 8-2 record that included wins over all-time great Peter Aerts, plus modern day legends like Badr Hari and Tyrone Spong. His K-1 run was capped off by a 2010 K-1 Grand Prix victory. Throughout his time as a kickboxer, Reem proved himself to be a violent, violent man, using heavy hands and vicious knees to take out his opponents.
Here then is a UFC 156 Bloody Elbow GIFathon on the K-1 KO's of Alistair Overeem.
Alistair Overeem vs. Badr Hari (Dec. 31, 2008)
The start of it all. Reem came into this fight as an MMA fighter, representing Dream in the Dream vs. K-1 series at Dynamite!! 2008. Hari was just removed from a very impressive run through the 2008 K-1 GP and was the easy favorite here. But it was not to be. In 2 minutes, Reem immediately cemented himself as a fighter to watch in K-1. That final left hook is great, and it's no surprise it puts Hari down.
Alistair Overeem vs. Ewerton Teixeira (Dec. 5, 2009)
After the Hari win, Reem dropped a decision to reigning GP champion Remy Bonjasky, then upset the great Peter Aerts by decision to earn a shot at the 2009 GP. His first opponent was Brazilian Kyokushin fighter Ewerton Teixeira, a technically superb, often underrated fighter who came in with a very strong 9-1 record. On paper, Teixeira was a tough opponent. In the ring, he was a punching bag. This lights out knee shot KO is one of the most brutal KO's in the history of K-1 - and that's saying something.
Alistair Overeem vs. Dzevad Poturak (Apr. 3, 2010)
Reem's win over Teixeira set up Overeem vs. Hari II, and this time, it was Overeem suffering the first round KO. This was his comeback fight, and was clearly set up to deliver the big highlight KO. Poturak is an entertaining, game fighter, who always gives it his all. He had some big wins in his career, but by 2010, was more of an entertaining fall guy. Reem knows his job here, and he complies, once again using the knee to end Poturak's night. All the credit in the world to Poturak for even getting back up.
Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Edwards (Oct. 2, 2010)
On to the 2010 K-1 Grand Prix Final 16, as Reem took on Australia's Ben Edwards. Edwards was undeniably in over his head here. But he was also a tough bomber of a fighter. A tough chinned heavy hitter, Edwards is the kind of fighter who will throw and throw and somehow never go down. A challenge for Reem? Not at all, as he showed off his increasingly superior technique, and the nasty power in his hands. Note how much Reem has improved his defense by this fight. The image of the normally super durable Edwards slumped down in the corner speaks volumes, as does the way his head snaps back on that first punch.
Alistair Overeem vs. Gokhan Saki (Dec. 11, 2010)
A hard won decision against Tyrone Spong led Overeem to this GP semifinal against Gokhan Saki. Saki had been in an absolute war with Daniel Ghita earlier in the night, and came into this fight injured, clearly favoring his arm. Reem wasted no time blasting that arm and getting the stoppage with a very nice switch kick to the body/arm, set up well with his leg kicks. It's a shame this is the only meeting between these two, as Saki is one of the top fighters of this era, and I would love to see him in top form against Overeem.
Alistair Overeem vs. Peter Aerts (Dec. 11, 2010)
Finally, Overeem's crowning moment, and his final K-1 fight - the 2010 GP finals. Opposite Reem stood Peter Aerts, the most beloved fighter in the history of K-1. Aerts made it here with a miraculous win over Semmy Schilt in the semifinals, and was the heavy crowd favorite. But as much as everyone wanted another Aerts GP victory, there was a strong sense of inevitability here. Overeem was just too strong, too vicious, too good for Aerts. It took him just over 1 minute to put together an aggressive and violent fight ending combo, putting the legend down, and taking home the GP crown.
Throughout this K-1 run, Overeem was adding MMA KO's to his highlight reel as well - Brett Rogers, Kazuyuki Fujita and Todd Duffee all felt the wrath of The Reem. In 2011, Lesnar became just the latest in a long line of victims. Will Bigfoot Silva be next on the list? Find out live at UFC 156 this Saturday night.