Alistair Overeem had plenty of distractions heading into last night's (Dec. 30, 2011) UFC 141 main event against former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
He'd left Golden Glory, his fight team he'd trained with for years. His mother had been stricken with cancer for the third time. He'd had to deal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who was none too pleased with his decision to postpone his prefight drug screening.
Don't forget the pressure of competing for the first time in the UFC and having a shot at the heavyweight title on the line.
Despite all the pressure and distractions, "The Reem" rose to the occasion, obliterating Lesnar with a first round technical knockout.
So what strategic decision allowed him to do his damage? And what's next for both men?
Overeem was very patient early, stalking Lesnar and keeping a distance so as to avoid the wrestling shot from Lesnar, but it never really came. For some reason, it looked like Lesnar was content to stand and trade with the defending K1 World Grand Prix kickboxing champion.
"The Reem" loaded up with a huge overhand right but missed badly. This left him exposed, but Lesnar couldn't take advantage. From here on out, Overeem changed his striking strategy. The next time the Dutchman went for a powerstrike, he lowered his target to Lesnar's exposed body and found a home.
"The Demolition Man" connected with a heavy knee to the body in the Muay Thai clinch, but Lesnar responded with one of his own. Upon the separation, it happened, a massive left kick to the body from Overeem landed with a sickening thud with the shinbone making a direct hit with Lesnar's exposed liver.
The former UFC champion never recovered, recoiling and then bending over in obvious pain. Smelling blood, Overeem swarmed him and unloaded a huge flurry of strikings, capping it off by dropping with a huge punch to the body and referee Mario Yamasaki had seen enough.
For Brock Lesnar, one has to question his strategy heading into this fight. He only half-heartedly attempted a takedown, grabbing a weak single that Overeem easily slipped out of. Did he really think he could stand and trade with Alistair Overeem? Perhaps he was overconfident from sparring sessions at his DeathClutch Gym. Perhaps he was already halfway out the door and wanted to go out on his shield? I doubt we'll ever get the answer.
There's no next opponent for Lesnar. He retired from MMA in his postfight speech and if we ever see him compete against anyone ever again, it would likely be in professional wrestling. He was an unlockable character in the most recent WWE 2012 game afterall. There will be countless reaction pieces to Lesnar's retirement coming out in the next few days, so I'll let our other talented writers reminisce instead. Thanks for the memories and everything you did to help grow the sport, Brock.
For Alistair Overeem, he fought very smartly. Switching targets from Lesnar's head to his body was a genius move, providing him a much larger target. He went hard and heavy with his body strikes and it paid off handsomely when he landed that swift kick to the liver. "The Reem" didn't give Lesnar many openings for takedowns and put a serious hurting on him once he gained confidence and had sized his opponent up.
Next up for Overeem is UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. He'll battle for the title sometime in 2012 once "Cigano's" knee is 100 percent. Fans should expect to see a thrilling affair between the two most talented heavyweight strikers in MMA today.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you surprised by Lesnar's retirement? Do you foresee Alistair Overeem as the new UFC heavyweight champion in 2012?