If you have never seen Alistair Overeem in action and you want to do so, you better buy a ticket or purchase the pay-per-view for UFC 167. According to Overeem, that may be the last time he competes in mixed martial arts.
Overeem was 35-11-0-1 when he made his UFC debut in December 2011. From the placement on the card and the opponent he was matched up against, it was clear that the UFC had plans to fast track the former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champion.
Overeem's first opponent was former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Their fight was the main event of UFC 141.
Overeem made short work of Lesnar, dropping him with a brutal liver kick and finishing him with strikes on the ground at the 2:26 mark of the first round. The UFC's plan to throw Overeem directly into the fire looked like a stroke of genius, at least until early April 2012, when that plan fell apart.
The win over Lesnar earned Overeem a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. The fight was booked for UFC 146, but after Overeem and five other fighters were given drug tests following a pre-fight press conference for the event. Overeem's test results revealed that he his testosterone to epitestosterone level was over 10-to-1, far exceeding the limit of 6-to-1 that the state of Nevada allows. The fight with Dos Santos was off.
The failed drug test earned Overeem a nine-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
When Overeem returned from suspension, he was booked to face Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the co-main event of UFC 156. Oddsmakers had Overeem as a -315 favorite over the +235 Silva. Judging by the pre-fight interviews and his body language heading into the Octagon, Overeem seemed to think those odds were a wee bit too close.
Was Overeem confident that he was going to destroy Silva? Yes. Was Overeem cocky and perhaps overconfident heading into the fight? Judging by the result, and Silva's reaction to that result, I would have to answer to the affirmative.
Overeem looked like he was going to handle Silva, but when he had not ended the fight by the conclusion of the second round, something changed inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva came out hard in the third round and finished Overeem with strikes. As Overeem lay on the mat, Silva had to be physically restrained by referee Herb Dean as he shouted taunts at his downed opponent.
Overeem's next fight was against Travis Browne. Overeem entered that fight as a -150 favorite over the +175 underdog Browne. Overeem also entered the August 17 fight with a lot less swagger.
Early in the bout it looked like Overeem was going to finish Browne. He looked to have Browne hurt as he laid into him against the fence, but the referee allowed the bout to continue, and when Browne got away from Overeem he was able to end the fight in the first round with a kick to the chin.
Over the course of three fights, Overeem had gone from potential UFC champion to a mixed martial artist fighting for his UFC life.
The promotion is wasting little time in getting Overeem back in the cage. His next fight will take place on November 16, and it will be against another fighter that will be under pressure, Frank Mir.
Mir is enmeshed in a three-fight losing streak, and the way Overeem sees it, a loss to Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion may spell the end of his MMA career.
Overeem appeared on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour and told host Ariel Helwani:
I'm telling you this, if I lose to Frank Mir I'd better start doing something else. If I lose to him and that's three in a row, then I'd better start doing something else, right?
That comment may have been Overeem using some hyperbole to show his bosses at the UFC that he understands the reality of the situation he is in. Overeem later walked those words back a bit and said that he didn't plan on retiring with a loss to Mir:
Well, I'd still like to fight a couple of years -- that being said, I'm not going to retire. Primarily, I just need to beat this guy.
Overeem is correct. He does need to beat Mir. The UFC is paying him a lot of cash, a reported $285,714.29 in his last fight in which salaries were released. That's not the kind of money the promotion likes to spend on fighters with lengthy losing streaks.
UFC 167 is the UFC's 20th anniversary event and will be headlined by a UFC welterweight title bout between champion Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 ranked contender Johny Hendricks.
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