Alistair "The Demolition Man" Overeem signed with the UFC 21 months ago and amid much fanfare. When he came on-board with the big show the Dutch kick-boxing star and multiple promotions champion was intended to be one of the brand’s biggest stars, and was supposed to have a quick and meteoric rise to the top of the heavyweight division. However, none of that happened.
Instead, Overeem has gone 1 & 2 in the UFC and aside from his debut performance and destruction of Brock Lesnar (December of 2011), Overeem has proven to be a complete bust in the UFC. Whether or not it’s been poor performances in the Octagon and against fighters he should have beaten (at least on paper) or his failed drug test in of April of last year, “The Reem” has failed to deliver or impress, and last night’s debacle at UFC Fight Night 26 was merely a continuation of the trend.
I for one, as many others, expected to see a different Alistair Overeem last night. It would have been the general consensus amongst most MMA fans that given his calamitous loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, a loss that many attributed to Alistair’s ring-ego / Octagon IQ and lack of conditioning, that the Reem would have learned from the loss and in-turn, addressed those issues in the lead-up to his bout with Travis Browne.
Indeed, evidence of his growth and an understanding of the mistakes that he’d made seemed to be readily available in his comments to the media and in the new no-nonsense coach (Mike Passenier) that the Reem had brought in to run his camp.
However, last night it was proven not to be the case.
Alistair started the fight in beautiful fashion and appeared to be in tremendous form and shape. He delivered some devastating punishment to Travis Browne and looked to be only a blow away from either stopping Browne or forcing the referee Mario Yamasaki to step in and do it for him. However, “Hapa” withstood it all and got back up.
At the end of their exchange and its travels from cage to canvas and back up again, Overeem looked to have tired and slowed. Browne himself made note of it at the post-fight press conference. On this point, Overeem seems to have learned nothing from his loss to Antonio Silva, for he didn’t look as if he was capable of going a full (hard) 3 rounds and he should not have tired or slowed that easily. Granted, he put out a lot of effort when he was beating on Browne, but that’s the nature of the game. If an opponent doesn’t wilt you need to be able to carry on and do so for the full fight. That is the conditioning that a fighter needs to bring to the ring and Alistair failed in that last night.
Regarding his ego / Octagon IQ I surmise the following: That Overeem felt he had owned Browne for ostensibly the whole of the first round and in beating on him as he did, he confirmed for himself that which he had believed going into the fight, which was, that Hapa was no threat to him and that he could now boldly begin to walk Browne down and not worry about Hapa’s range, and do it all with no movement what-so-ever; particularly head movement. One beautiful Anderson Silva-esque (left) front-snap-kick later, combined with three big rights and it was all over.
Ostensibly, it’s the same mistake that he made against Bigfoot. He thought he had the fight in the bag and not much to worry about from his opponent and he paid for it; case closed.
At this stage of the game his career in the UFC is on the ropes and how Mike Passenier or any new coach corrects the reasons for it, namely his cardio and ego / Octagon IQ, I have no idea. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s over for the Reem or that the problems can’t be fixed, but with that said, I don’t think they can be fixed in Miami and around his Blackzilian team-mates. I think he needs a new home, camp and team.
I doubt that he’ll be cut yet, but he’s probably only 1 loss away from it and if he wants to stay, then he’s going to need to address these issues. In terms of who he draws next, it’s apt to be either the loser of Mir / Barnett or Nelson / Cormier and for him to garner a win against any of those opponents the Reem will be in need of more than a few minutes’ worth of staying power and focus.