Before Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos take center stage, a pair of Middlearth-sized Heavyweights take center stage in Dallas, TX at American Airlines Center this weekend, March 14, 2015.
The Match Up
Heavyweight Roy Nelson 20-10 vs. Alistair Overeem 38-14-1 NC
Heavyweight Roy Nelson +165 vs. Alistair Overeem -190
3 Things You Should Know
1. Alistair Overeem is the one fresh off a win, but it doesn't feel like it given his 2-3 record in his last five. The man they call 'the reem' still has plenty to prove in a quickly closing window.
Overeem used to be the crowned jewel of Heavyweight. A giant, marauding Dutch kickboxer with an underrated grappling game, but mostly just a deadly, supernaturally brutal kickboxing game. Even by K-1's standards. Between 2007 and 2011 it seemed like he might carry that torch if he would just sign with the UFC. Once he did, we got Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, and it's been downhill ever since.
At this point, the skeptics were right; there are plenty of things you can change, or are prone to improvement. However, one thing that will follow you are your intangibles. If you're not good at dealing with pressure, or taking punches, you probably never will be.
2. Roy Nelson may look extraordinarily jovial and spry, but suddenly there are questions about whether he can take a punch like he used to. He'd be wise to get straight down to business against Overeem.
Nelson has faced some pretty stiff competition lately, so he's unsurprisingly 1-3 in that span. For as much grief as he gives Dana with his attitude, one might worry that another loss would send him packing despite being better than most of the division. However, this is a good fight for Nelson to succeed. Hunt be a deadly kickboxer like Overeem, but the men are worlds apart when it comes to in-cage demeanor. I don't think Nelson is getting chinny; Hunt landed a perfect shot. But except for the Nog fight, he's taken some serious punishment against Cormier, and Miocic as well so it's worth nothing all the same.
3. Those odds are pretty silly, so betting men and women; start your wallet engines.
This fight should be dead even, so you'd be a fool not to jump on numbers that favor Overeem. That's not to say this is an easy fight to pick, however. Overeem could easily decide to do what he did against Mir; don't take any chances on the feet, and just top control the bout. Alistair is good at this, and I always felt he would have been better staying at LHW, avoiding the horse meat and testosterone, and using his all around game to compliment his height and reach.
He also possesses a savage guillotine. Nelson is good on the ground if he's in top control. Just the sheer physics of his 'ample' body make it unlikely for him to swing his hips around for a split second armbar. The question is whether Nelson can keep it on the feet.
Overeem never had good defense in K-1; he just had effective defense for K-1. So unsurprisingly, nothing about his earmuff defense has proven to be effective against smaller gloves. Overeem's a weird paradox; despite his height and length, he fights much better in close quarters, and is actually kind of below average at range. This is why I could totally see Nelson swinging that big right hand with some success; he only needs one after all. Roy does a solid job of timing his punches even if they're rote, and one dimensional. It's a tough fight to pick; Overeem has an easier path to victory. But I think Nelson hits Overeem with that one solid shot.
Roy Nelson by TKO, round 2.