Six months ago Alistair Overeem did something he hadn't done since becoming a full-time heavyweight: he beat a top 10 opponent.
His victory over Fabricio Werdum wasn't pretty. In fact, it was downright boring and tedious. But beating the likes of James Thompson, Brett Rogers and Todd Duffee doesn't exactly lead to legitimacy when held up to the harsh scrutiny of your average mixed martial arts (MMA) fan.
So ugly as it was, the win over Werdum was a step in the right direction for "Ubereem" who had been carrying the label of "can killer" since his move to heavyweight back in 2007. What he began last June in Dallas, he completed last night (Dec. 30) in Las Vegas at UFC 141 when he stopped Brock Lesnar in the first round.
People can try to brush off the win any number of ways. They can claim that Lesnar hasn't been the same since his bouts with diverticulitis or that he wasn't that good to begin with. But results don't lie and with only about half a decade of MMA training under his belt, the now retired star fought at the highest level of the sport and was for a time recognized as the best fighter in his weight class.
It didn't even take Overeem half a round to beat him.
"The Reem" is the real deal, ladies and gentlemen.
Inside the Octagon last night, Overeem looked calm as ever despite it being his first time under the bright UFC lights. Many fighters often claim "Octagon jitters" to explain poor performances in their UFC debut but judging by the Dutchman's efficiency in picking apart his opponent last night, he had the exact opposite reaction; almost an "Octagon confidence."
For years Overeem has claimed to be the best. Every fight promotion he was signed to became his personal playground. He captured the Strikeforce heavyweight championship by steamrolling Paul Buentello and defended it in a one-sided beatdown of Rogers. Across the Pacific Ocean, the aforementioned wins over Thompson and Duffee were part of a five-fight win streak with the DREAM promotion.
And it looks as if he may go down as the last K-1 World Grand Prix Champion ever. It's a crown that has been held by some of the greatest kickboxers to have ever lived. Names like Ernesto Hoost, Peter Aerts and Remy Bonjasky are now spoken alongside that of Overeem's.
When someone has a résumé as impressive as his, it can stand to reason why he would fancy himself one of the best and why he would want to be recognized as such by fighting in the world's top promotion. The UFC houses the best fighters in the world and finally Overeem can count himself as one of them. "The Reem" didn't suffer from jitters last night because he felt that the Octagon was where he belonged; where he has belonged for some time now.
But of course, fighters can say whatever they want but without results backing it up, it's all a bunch of bulljive. I can't see what else Overeem can do following last night to prove that he belongs in the upper echelon of the heavyweight division. He took out a former UFC champion who has wins against Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Shane Carwin under his belt. He didn't only beat Lesnar, he retired the big man. Sure, Lesnar had already promised his wife that he would call it quits should he come up short but fortunately for "The Reem," history will forget some of the details. Years from now, people will say, "Brock Lesnar? Oh yeah, he retired after Alistair Overeem beat him" without mention of any promise.
The Dutchman hasn't tasted defeat in over four years and is now on a collision course with Junior Dos Santos, the UFC heavyweight champion who can claim the same statistic. Both men are big, tough brutes who can -- and have -- put opponents to sleep in short order.
Even in Overeem comes up short in his title bid in the next year, there's still match-ups with Cain Velasquez, Mir and even the winner of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix awaiting him. There are all men who -- like Overeem -- are at the top of their class, the best of the best.
Welcome to the big stage, Overeem. It took you a while to get here but you've proven you deserve the spot.
2012 should be fun.