clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Harris results and post-fight analysis

New, comments

Tim B. and Mookie Alexander take a look at the third UFC event in a week in Jacksonville.

It was all decisions on the UFC on ESPN 8 main card up until the main event, which unsurprisingly (and thankfully) did not require the judges. Walt Harris looked on his way to an early and emotional demolishing of Alistair Overeem, but Overeem survived that onslaught — maybe a different referee would’ve stepped in to stop it but Dan Miragliotta did not — and Harris’ ill-fated front kick proved a major turning point. Overeem took control of the rest of the opening round as Harris fatigued and took some damage of his own.

The Reem’s experience and longtime striking prowess proved superior in round two, as a head kick and left hand put Harris down and he would never recover. Overeem flattened Harris out and kept punching until Miragliotta waved it off.

It’s a great comeback win for Overeem as he turns 40 on Sunday (which already happened at the time of this publish, so happy birthday!), but you cannot help but feel terrible for Walt. This was his first fight since the senseless and tragic murder of his stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard, and this doubled as the biggest bout of his career in terms of rankings and title shot aspirations. He was on the cusp of a massive win, and instead it turned into a heartbreaking loss. Harris was understandably overcome with emotion in his moving post-fight interview — one I thought Paul Felder handled brilliantly — and Overeem was very classy after the TKO when he extended an offer to Walt to train together.

Sentimental feelings aside, Overeem is still very much relevant at the top of the heavyweight division, and he showed great poise to turn disaster into success when so often we’ve seen him do the opposite. Can’t completely write him off just yet, not when he still has the offensive skill set that he possesses.

More thoughts below:

Main Card (Mookie)

  • Claudia Gadelha owned Angela Hill in round one and then she started to fade. Hill dropped her in round two and got the better of her on the feet while stuffing the former strawweight title challenger’s takedowns. Round three was close, I thought Hill did enough to win, but two judges disagreed. It’s a narrow win for Gadelha and really doesn’t do much to erase my doubts about her ability to maintain her effectiveness in a reasonably well-paced fight, and it’s bad luck for Hill because she nearly got the biggest win of her career.
  • Edson Barboza’s featherweight debut didn’t go according to plan. Despite a strong start and an early knockdown, Dan Ige took a somewhat controversial split decision, as most observers had it for Edson (self-included). I thought Barboza took rounds one and two while Ige took the final round, but the judges must have seen Ige’s early work offset the fact that he got hurt and beaten up in the final minute or so of round two. Ige has won six in a row, while Barboza is deeply unlucky to have a three-fight losing streak when he could arguably be on a two-fight winning run vs. Paul Felder and Ige.
  • Middleweight veteran Krzysztof Jotko beat Eryk Anders in an extremely forgettable fight. Anders spammed throwing strikes blindly before lunging into a failed takedown attempt, and this proved to be a losing formula. Jotko had the better offense throughout the contest, which isn’t saying much.
  • Former heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman will posthumously enter the pioneers wing of the UFC Hall of Fame, and it’s well-deserved. Much praise to the UFC for a great video montage, and it’s tragic that he left this world at such a young age. His knockout of Mirko Cro Cop is one of the most iconic victories in MMA history, and his suplex of Fedor Emelianenko of course was nothing short of awe-inspiring. He was an outstanding national championship winning wrestler and succeeded in MMA as an undersized heavyweight, fighting top competition throughout his career. By all accounts he was a good dude outside the cage, and it was hard not to tear up along with Mark Coleman when Coleman saw the news. We all miss you, Kevin!
  • Bantamweight contenders Song Yadong and Marlon Vera moved up to featherweight for a day put on a highly competitive scrap. I do admit I’m a little surprised that all three judges had it 29-28 for Song. Round 2 was very close and I scored it for Vera, but ultimately I don’t think it’s a robbery. Song is a talented prospect and at just 22 years old you get the sense that the best is yet to come. Vera’s fibe-fight winning streak ends, and he was very upset after the decision was read.

Preliminary Card (Tim)

  • Matt Brown fights are never boring, and this featured prelim bout with Miguel Baeza sure stuck to brand. Both men got dropped in an awesome first round, and they both showed what they’re made of by recovering. Baeza was the more technical striker, while Brown just went wild with his vaunted elbows. Starting out the second, Baeza immediately scored with a hard combo, then floored Brown again with a perfect counter left hook and ended his night just 18 seconds into the middle stanza. I did say below that Darren Elkins and Nate Landwehr should get fight of the night, but this fight may have taken that away from them.
  • Kevin Holland wanted to get his fight with Alexander Hernandez over with quickly, and he did exactly that. A hard standing elbow and a knee to the body was enough to send Hernandez crashing to the mat, and Holland finished him in just 39 seconds. Very impressive win, and he called out Mickey Gall to fight in just a couple of weeks. Ambitious.
  • Giga Chikadze has some amazing striking. His kicks in particular had me in awe. The question mark kick that he throws is a work of art, and it’s pretty much impossible to tell if he’s going to the head or body with it. Taking on ultra late replacement Irwin Rivera, he used that and some timely knees to handily take a decision win. It was expected, of course. But it was impressive either way.
  • With that being said, Rivera showed a lot of heart. He got dropped with a knee early in the third, and just popped up and was throwing combos immediately. He’s clearly a tough dude, and he should be fun to watch back in his own weight class. He was dwarfed by Chikadze in there.
  • It wouldn’t be a Darren Elkins fight if there wasn’t a bunch of blood. His face truly was the ol’ crimson mask, and Michael Bisping helpfully pointed out that this wasn’t a movie, it was indeed real. Elkins and Nate Landwehr went to war for 15 full minutes and Elkins didn’t get the nod, but I’m guessing he (and Nate) will be getting bonus checks for all the action they provided.
  • The fight had its weird moments though. Elkins was yelling at Dana White. Landwehr was just yelling randomly. He screamed his way through his whole post-fight interview, and he walked over to Bisping after and gave him a bloody fist bump. Bisping seemed amused by the whole thing, as did Paul Felder. It was strange, but it was fun.
  • Cortney Casey made short work of Mara Romero Borella in their flyweight fight. Casey got put on the mat quickly, but doggedly pursued an armbar from the bottom until she made Borella scream in pain and tap. I like Casey at 125. As for Borella, that was probably her last trip to the Octagon.
  • In the curtain jerker, a game Rodrigo Nascimento took a plodding heavyweight fight with Don’Tale Mayes and made it exciting in just a few seconds. He got a takedown, jumped on the back, and sunk the choke faster than the announcers could keep up. It was pretty impressive.