Alistair Overeem is a foreboding figure. Known as one of the greatest kick boxers of all-time and his gargantuan size would seemingly make him one of the more intimidating figures in the mixed martial arts world. So, why is it that Overeem doesn’t seem to be as intimidating as his appearance and background would lead us to believe?
Most fair weather fight fans will think of Overeem as an elite heavyweight contender and even Sherdog ranks him as the No. 6 Heavyweight in the world, but the fact is even though Overeem has bundles of talent, but he seems to falter when placed against elite opposition.
Overeem holds notable victories in his career, the highlights of which being Vitor Belfort, Paul Buentello and Brock Lesnar, but his list of defeats against top-level competition is much longer. Losses to Chuck Liddell, Sergei Kharitonov, Ricardo Arona and a pair of losses each to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Mauricio Rua mean that Overeem’s career is littered with many more shortcomings than successes. There’s no question that Overeem has the skill set and size to be a successful heavyweight in the UFC, but to this point, he just hasn’t been able to put the tools together to take the next step to an elite fighter.
Yes, he’s a one-time Strikeforce champion as well as a former DREAM champ, but against the best in the world, he’s fallen short. Overeem’s size means he tends to gas faster than fighters of a sleeker build. He also suffers from a severe bout of overconfidence and the two ills finally caught up to him in his match against Antonio Silva, who took a beating in his fight against Overeem.
Overeem won the first two rounds in a very dominant fashion, almost knocking his Brazilian opponent out with strikes. In the third round, though, it didn’t matter much what happened in rounds one and two. ‘Reem came out with his hands low, taunting Silva, asking him to throw strikes. The towering Dutch kick boxer also came out plodding flat-footed around the cage as Silva sized him up. Seeing his opening, Silva unleashed with a barrage of punches that all found their home on Alistair’s chin and the fight ended abruptly with a stunning come-from-behind victory for Silva.
Overeem will step into the cage yet again this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 26 and across from him will be a hungry and dangerous opponent, Travis Browne, who is 14-1-1 in his mixed martial arts career. Although he certainly has less experience than Overeem (36-12-1), he won’t be fearing the Dutch striker. Browne’s only UFC loss comes against the very man that beat Overeem in Silva. Browne looked very active against Silva, mixing up his striking game well, but much to his misfortune, Browne tore his hamstring early in the fight. Silva capitalized and finished Browne, delivering him his first professional loss. What-if scenarios are usually a fruitless exercise in thought, however, it may be fair to say that if Browne hadn’t gotten injured in that fight, he may very well have gone on to win.
Browne is electrifying. He’s a devastating muay thai striker with 10 of his 14 wins coming via knockout. He has hands of stone and there is no doubt he’ll come out throwing bombs against Overeem. Out of Overeem’s 12 career losses, the majority of them have come via knockout (7), and there is no doubt that he’ll need to have his head on a swivel and be ready to protect his chin. Most betting lines are putting Overeem as a nearly 2-to-1 favorite over Browne, but I imagine that’s largely because of reputation and little to do with skill level.
One thing is for sure, Overeem cannot take Browne for granted like he did Silva. Overeem may be a very marketable fighter, but that doesn’t mean his leash is any longer than other fighters in the UFC, add in coming off a loss to Silva and a failed drug test, a loss to Browne might not spell out future success for him. Overeem has to be able to strike with Browne, use his range and negate Browne’s muay thai. If he can do that, he has a chance, but for my money, I think it is a hands-down win for Browne. Then again, when you pit striker vs. striker, anything can happen.
James Wright is a MMA Writer for Rant Sports follow him on Twitter @JAWSports .