From Three Belts to Obscurity: The Unfulfilled Hype of Alistair Overeem


Less than three years ago, Alistair Overeem was on top of the combat sports world. He was the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, the Dream interim heavyweight champion, and incredibly, the K-1 Grand Prix champion. Since making the move to heavyweight and gaining a massive amount of muscle, his career had skyrocketed. Amidst rumors of heavy performance-enhancing drug use, ‘The Demolition Man’ mauled all comers en route to a cadre of title belts. He was expected to soon make his way to the UFC and complete his championship clean sweep.

And for a while, things went as planned. He made his UFC debut at 2011’s year-ending UFC 141, demolishing former champion inside of one round with a vicious kick to the body. This earned him his expected title shot, and he was to face champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 146. That is, until a surprise drug test at a pre-fight press conference yielded extremely high testosterone levels and scratched the fight, earning Overeem a suspension in the process. He came back to face Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva at UFC 156, but after winning the first two rounds, he was brutally knocked out with a highlight reel combo in the last frame.

Despite the loss, Junior dos Santos had dropped the title back to Cain Velasquez at UFC 155. So Overeem still had his match against former champion JDS, but again, it was just not to be. Overeem suffered an injury that forced the UFC to clamor for his replacement, eventually enlisting heavy-handed Samoan Mark Hunt. JDS and Hunt fought a classic battle at UFC 160, with dos Santos pulling out the victory with a beautiful spinning wheel kick in the third.

As for Overeem, he finds himself with a pivotal tilt with Travis ‘Hapa’ Browne at UFC on Fox Sports 1:Boston. It’s a bout where the winner can surge to the top of a short list for worthy title contenders at 265, and the winner will find themselves forced to the bottom of the totem pole. Even though he sits at #5, Overeem has been very underwhelming throughout his tumultuous UFC career. He remains winless since his debut victory over Lesnar. And that’s not a surprise to many fans, who’ve argued for years that Overeem was only a product of PEDs who fought overseas in a successful attempt to avoid the strict regulating commissions in place in the U.S.

That’s up for debate, but one thing is not, and that’s the fact that Overeem is without a doubt a world-class striker. His chin has never been the best, dating back to his days as a light heavyweight in Pride, but he does have an underrated grappling game which features an absolutely vicious guillotine. However, all that will be for naught if Overeem continues to get knocked out, fail drug tests, get suspended, and withdraw from fights.

He definitely faces a stiff challenge in the form of Browne, who suffered his only loss to Bigfoot after badly injuring his hamstring last year; otherwise he very well may have won that bout. Browne’s a hungry young fighter who wants nothing more than to rise to the top. And he’s doing so very quietly, so Overeem would be best served to not underestimate Browne as he did Bigfoot. Otherwise, a man thought to be almost a shoo-in for UFC champion will continue a disappointing fade into irrelevancy.

Are you surprised at where Overeem currently stands? Will he ever return to the lofty position he once enjoyed?

  • To me, Overeem is a case of 3 things; Steroids making a good fighter with certain faults much better, the HW division being light compared to others in multiple combat sports while also being incredibly match up based, and HW kickboxing being sadly soft in talent level.

    • You summed it up pretty well.
      I've known his chin sux and he only catapulted to heights because of size and Roids and fighting lower tier fighters. I dont doubt for a second he was in Europe eating horse meat loaded with steroids. Shortly after he had taken pictures eating horse meat, the scandal broke out in Europe about all the steroid meat.
      I never have liked him, he was as rude and offensive as he ever could be after kicking CroCop in the balls twice causung DQ and hospital for Mirko, while Reem sat back and called him a coward.

      I'll be looking forward to his next Octagon nap.

      • That Cro Cop/Overeem fight had to of been the biggest disappointment outside of Pride and UFC. Maybe only thing that could top it was Barnett/Fedor being canceled.

    • Evan I don't have a clue how you can cal HW kickboxing low in talent, on that night he had to go through Saki, Spong and Aerts. They may not all be true heavyweights but they can still smash through nearly everyone else in that weight class

      • i need a double shot!

      • Well, spong in the beginning of the fight had Overeem backing up!
        Then Overeem fought Saki who injured his arm in his first fight!
        And the yes, then he fought the living "broken down" legend Aerts , who just beat Semmy Schilt in an epic batlle. (schilt the best HW ever on paper!)
        So i would say with the roids and injured opponennts it was a weak year!
        And beating Buentuello and Tudd Duffee doesn't say a hole lot!!!

    • Unsure what country you are from. But any arguments why the HW kickboxing is soft on talent level? You can't make a case with Overeem.

      Same could've been said about the UFC HW division when Brock won the title after 3 fights in the UFC (1 loss and 2 wins).

      Let me tell you something about K1. K1 was the main organization for kickboxing but they forgot to pay their kickboxers for the last 10 years. Overeem never got the money he won with that K1 WGP. Many left K1 for this reason and I think that was the last tournament before the organization went bankrupt. If you look at the opponents Overeem faced: the first was Spong and he barely won that fight, the second fight was against an injured Saki and the third fight was against an injured Aerts. Reem by far won the easiest K1 WGP in the history not having to face Schilt or Badr Hari(if you don't include the new Eastern European K1), Hunt also won a rather easy tournament (not facing the best such as Hoost, Aerts).

      Anyway, Americans don't know **** about kickboxing so stop talking about it. Rashad Evans trains with Tyrone Spong and before he watched a kickboxing tournament in Holland he was like: ''I want to try it one time.'' After he saw the level those fighters were at in Holland he said: ''Hell no, I'm never doing that.''

      I don't see how Reem stands for kickboxing. I think his posture and his game are more suited for kickboxing but he's not top 5 HW kickboxing, like he's not a top 5 MMA HW. Like Hunt he won one of the easiest tournaments. Plus implementing your kickboxing/stand up game in MMA is hard than some of you might think.

      • Raziel…..screw K-1…..evolve

        • @ Entity
          Like I said, you don't come with arguments. Just hate for a fighter. I remember the Crocop fight. Even though Crocop wasn't prime anymore Overeem dominated him and Crop was lucky his balls saved him. He wouldn't have lasted much longer.

          • Dont run your mouth about Americans not knowing anything about kickboxing. Chuck Norris is a six-time undefeated karate world champion, he was in the USA kicking azz before your daddy got his pants down.

          • And yes Raziel, I do hate Reem, hes a fricken D^%K

          • Again you don't come with arguments. Yes back in 50's Chuck Norris was Karate Champion. Good for him. The Karate Kid probably was your favorite movie? Good for you. I say your knowledge about the stand up game is very impressive. If you would only get a Bruce Lee avatar, if you did you would be the man.

            Shrugs, I don't let emotions get the best of me. So saying you hate Reem and sort of admitting that's why you're posting all this BS. I don't even think you take yourself seriously. Do you?

            And yeah, I shouldn't call out most Americans. Sorry for those who aren't as narrow minded (which should be the majority). 🙂

          • That was my point from the beginning. You took the liberty of attacking ALL Americans about kickboxing. That alone shows your a dooshbag. Kickboxing isnt the worlds number one sport and I dont waste my time watching it. Oh boy wow, they kick, they punch, they throw people down, who gives a fook? Their top badass just got KO'd by BigFoot of all people. He'll get his azz handed to him as soon as he fights Cain or Jr.

          • Overeem never was their top badass. That's what I tried to explain. K1 has been dying for the last 12 years not paying their fighters. The tournament Reem won was the last K1 WGP. I think they never paid him, lol. After K1 died Glory bought all the big names and now they are number. Much better org.

            Overeem like Hunt won a K1 WGP without having to face the best opponents (Badr Hari and Schilt). He did face Spong and he almost lost that fight, his second and third fight of the night were against injured (Saki and Aerts) opponents.

            But again, MMA's main badass Brock Lesnar got his … handed to him facing this mediocre kickboxer. What does this say about MMA? You can't say it's different, it's the exact same thing.

            Also Bigfoot has a great win over Fedor. Any HW can be knocked out on any day if they don't take him serious. Which Overeem didn't. And in my opinion he deserved that loss. Beat some humility in that guy. Also, it's not like it hasn't before. Overeem has been knocked out 7 times in MMA and 3 times in kickboxing.

            Reem has never been K1 top badass just as he's never been MMA badass. What kind of bs is that? He was hyped a bit because of his size but your hate for him sort of makes you say silly thinks about kickboxing.

            MMA consists out of multiple disciplines. Stand up is just a part of it. And no it's not the biggest. But neither is MMA. Football, Basketball and such are regarded much higher in the rest of the world. In my Europe almost nobody know's about MMA (1 percent at most). Is that relevant to you?

            And again your hate for Reem sort of blindsiding you. Now you hate kickboxing? The way you talk about kickboxing is the same way as dumb people that don't watch MMA talk about MMA: nasty ground huggers. Looks gay. You get that right? You sound like those people and don't tell me they sound knowledgeable.

          • Why arent you hanging out at a K-1 site?
            Good now we both know what each other thinks.
            Just get off the American hate wagon…..or jealous wagon which ever it might be.

          • For the last time, K1 doesn't exist anymore. I have a taekwondo backround myself but I prefer watching MMA over K1/kickboxing. Kickboxing will rise again though now Glory took over.

            And it's funny that the person that place all his comment full of hate for Reem is calling me a hater. Hilarious. This is how you described kickboxing: Oh boy wow, they kick, they punch, they throw people down, who gives a fook? ————) the majority of MMA fans that don't like kickboxing would even call that…….! It's like someone watching MMA for the first time and say it's just groundhugging. I don't want to say you sound stupid, but sorry, you do.

      • Keith- That's kind of my point. Aerts has been a fixture in the HW division for a while at 120 years old. Schilt and Overeem came in from an MMA career to destroy the field (incidentally Semmy is now probably the best HW kickboxer in recent history). And as you pointed out, some are down right small for HW. Spong has gone through an Overeem like transformation over the past 2 years himself.

        Raziel- The history lesson is a nice thought and all, but its pretty much word for word on what I said at this site after Overeem won his title. Yes, he went through a field that was decimated by tougher fights and injuries. Yes, he didn't have to face the top two guys in his sport. That exactly lends to my argument. Take away the top two guys in K1, and you have a roided up mixed martial artist come in, and tear through a field of slow lumbering lesser talents or guys that could be fighting at 185.

        However, your point about kickboxing and mixed martial artists is ********stupid (or might even be made up). Mixed martial artists have a good history of coming to K1 and beating people. For every JZ demolition loss to Masato, there's Rampage destroying Abidi. Before Kid Yamamoto had his decline he took Masato to a tough decision. Dida gave Buakaw one of his toughest fights in that 5 year span outside of Masato, Souwer, and Sato (I still think the Kraus decision was garbage). Semmy Schilt and Overeem are freaking mixed martial artists tearing apart kickboxers for christ sakes. So basically, your little fun tag of "Hell no, I'm never doing that" conflicts directly with reality.

        It would actually be comparable to the top tier of the UFC's HW division when Brock won. They were still bringing along Cain, and JDS wasn't being pushed they his skill said he should have been. So Lesnar got to bull through some lesser guys (but that was also before he had a career debilitating disease that ruined his skill/aggression/athleticism).

        As for Overeem never being K1 #1, that's incorrect. Even with Schilt and Hari not taking part in their GP Overeem was pushed as numero uno after winning. He was looked at as the beast of K1/Japan MMA, and he was one of the only ones that got his pay fulfilled (which was a product of Golden Glory's interest in K1 and the fact that all pay went through them, which was obviously challenged in court later on in Overeem career).

        Overeem was never a mediocre kickboxer. That's what makes the talent level of K1 so mediocre in itself (after The Hug, Hoost, LeBanner etc. era at least). He was a good (not great) mixed martial artist that came in and destroyed some of the top guys in the sport. Say whatever you want about Americans, but you can't hide from the fact that Overeem well in K1 simply because he had good kickboxing and big muscles.

        K1 and DREAM actually still exist. They just don't run shows as much anymore, and are trolling for money marks right now. Their last event was awesome though. Murthel Groenhart destroyed the field in a great K1 MAX end of the year tourney.

  • That one loss to Big Foot (after completely dominating him for 2 rounds) does not define Alistair. Look for him to bounce back and leave a path of destruction in the HW division in the next 8 months…. He'll beat the **** out of Travis… then fight the loser of Cain VS JDS (which means he'll fight JDS) and then he'll fight for the title next…..

    • I was just about to post basically the same thing. It is amazing how quickly these people will jump off a band wagon.

    • yeah, Im still waiting for this "path of destruction"
      Reem wont be UFC champ sorry.

  • The real joke is him winning one fight (against Todd Duffee!!) to get one of those "championship" belts. He has 2 real belts. Even the Strikeforce belt's a joke, he beat Paul Buentello, then had one fight a couple of years later against Brett Rogers.

    Come on….

  • He is a top tier fighter and in K1 looked incredible and imposing but I agree with Endo to be honest… the climb to the Dream and Strikeforce HW championships is hardly comparable to what UFC Heavyweights have to accomplish to reach and remain at the top of the UFC divisions.

    If his pre UFC win streak consisted of a few more elite HW's outside the UFC at that time I.e. Barnett, Fedor, Cormier, Bigfoot, Kharitonov, Arlovski etc… then maybe his hype would have been warranted.

    The fight with Werdum doesn't count (Werdum's fault) Almost as baffling as Kalib Starnes.

    To his credit he 'demolished' a wounded Lesnar and looks really mean!

  • Obscurity? Hardly..

    • If he loses to Browne, then he has two losses in a row, a suspension, an injury withdrawal (from his best opponent), and a win over a shell of what Brock Lesnar once was. So yeah.

  • Damn Mike, you beat me to the punch (pun intended) on this subject.

    I think he's far from obscurity, certainly right now, but the over-hype could end proving well-true. This is a big fight for AO. He needs a win, here and it would help if it was an impressive one.

    I'll still stand by him through his next bout, but as a fan, he's going to have to show me that he's a whole lot more than what he was. He needs to show us that he still is.

    Once again, it will be interesting to see what Overeem's physique looks like come weigh-in. For as has been pointed out (I believe by enjoy321), if you A / B Overeem's last two weigh-in photos / video…it's a much different build in both appearances.

  • without steroids he is a pumped up LHW