Sunday, December 25, 2011

UFC 141 Lesnar vs. Overeem will be like watching two Brahma bulls battle

Few things in combat sports can capture an audience like two giants battling inside the Octagon. At UFC 141 MMA fans will be treated to such a matchup between former champion Brock Lesnar and current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. On fight night the two will combine for probably over 575 pounds inside the Octagon. While few men in this world can make Brock Lesnar seem small, standing side by side, Alistair Overrem achieves just that. But will that translate into victory?

Alistair "Demolition Man" Overeem is riding a wave of success and hype, having not lost since 2007 covering an 11 fight unbeaten streak. While he is relatively unknown to UFC fans, just one look at his massive physique lets them know he is not a fighter to be taken lightly. Brock Lesnar, on the other hand, comes in on the heels of a rough loss against former heavyweight king, Cain Velasquez, in which his massive holes in his stand up were soundly exposed. Yet he remains a top tier force in the heavyweight division and more importantly in the UFC's marketing plan. So Dana White's best idea for Lesnar's return to the Octagon is to pit him against one of the world's elite strikers, MMA or otherwise. At stake for Brock Lesnar is not only a title shot but more importantly his ability to prove he can bang and remain with the elite in the UFC.

Through his rise in the heavyweight ranks, I have not been a believer in Alistair Overeem. In his 11 fight streak the best fighter he beat was Fabricio Werdum whom he defeated by decision mainly because Fabricio was unable to bring Overeem to the mat. Werdum is a ground specialist but not a takedown artist. All other  fighters during the streak were either over the hill or unproven and in way over their heads. The Alistair Overeem I recall is the one that went 2-5 immediately before the streak began and being KOd or TKOd by the likes of Kharitonov, Rua, Arona and Nogueira. I remember the one that gasses in fights and has difficulty with adversity. The one who can not stop a takedown. He has not fought a single wrestler during his winning streak.

On paper, most see Brock Lesnar at a disadvantage. He himself has not reacted well to being hit in the face and now he faces one of the purest strikers in MMA? I agree with Lesnar's recent comments that he can take a punch, there are no problems with his chin. He just doesn't like being hit in the face and doesn't react like a we expect him to. While Overeem will surely land punches, Lesnar will surely get a clinch or a single or double and take the fight to the ground and erase the striking advantage. He did so against Frank Mir and Randy Couture and even Cain Velasquez. But Velasquez was able to get back to his feet and re-establish his striking advantage. I don't see Alistair Overeem doing that. There is something daunting in having a 285lb monster on top of you who moves like a welterweight and that  is definitely something the Demolition Man has never faced before. Even if Overeem escapes to the later rounds, Lesnar's cardio has never been questioned especially when he dominates. Unless he is able to land a fight ending strike, I see Alistair Overeem slowly folding under the force that is Brock Lesnar en route to a third round TKO victory for Brock and a return trip to a title tilt against Junior dos Santos.

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