History in the Making: Alistair Overeem, the king of the Strikeforce heavyweight division

Photo via Strikeforce.com

He is the reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion and also happens to have won the last K-1 World Grand Prix.

He hasn't lost a fight in nearly four years and in fact, only has two losses at over 205-pounds on his resume. As the cherry on top, he's the interim Dream heavyweight champ too.

So how did middling light heavyweight Alistair Overeem become one of the most feared and talked about heavyweights in the sport?

Before he steps into the cage this Saturday night (June 18) to rematch Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum," we'll take a look at his pair of title fights in the promotion and how the first began to build the foundation that would be "The Reem" while the second solidified all the rumors as true.

Read on, subjects of Ubereem!

Up until late 2007, Overeem was known as a good but not great fighter out of the highly regarded Golden Glory camp. When not fighting in his home country, he was plying his wares in Japan for Pride FC and a number of Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG) companies.

His first taste with widespread notoriety in mixed martial arts (MMA) was in Pride's 2003 grand prix where he looked good against Chuck Liddell but ended up coming up short against the heavy-handed American.

"The Reem's" next brush with greatness came two years later in yet another light heavyweight tournament. He guillotined his way to the semifinals leaving a gasping for air Vitor Belfort and Igor Vovchanchyn in his wake.

Unfortunately for the Dutchman, he ran into Mauricio Rua, who was in the middle of a career-defining run towards grand prix glory. Much like his bout two years earlier against Liddell, Overeem did well for himself early on in the semifinal bout opposite "Shogun" but again found himself on the business end of a knockout.

Standing at a massive 6'5", Overeem decided to move up a weight class to see if he could fare any better at heavyweight. The move was temporary and shared highs -- a win over Sergei Kharitonov -- with polar opposite lows -- a submission loss to Werdum.

A move back down to 205-pounds was a complete disaster as he dropped three fights in a row. It seems that the seemingly unlimited potential "The Demolition Man" possessed was to go unfulfilled, another tragedy of consequence in the unforgiving sport of MMA.

But Overeem didn't want to go out like that; like the Mark Kerrs, David Terrells, or Ricco Rodriguezes of the sport. He decided to move back up to heavyweight and stay there by bulking up and using his massive frame to muscle around his opponents while destroying them with the technique he already possessed.

It did not start off well.

A knockout loss to Kharitonov put a damper on Overeem's plans but he continued undaunted. Just two months afterwards, he met Paul Buentello in a Strikeforce cage to crown the promotion's first heavyweight champion.

The Dutchman immediately lands a flying knee that catches "The Headhunter" by surprise before clinching him up and dragging the former UFC title contender to the ground.

In side mount, Overeem landed punches and elbows to Buentello's head. The American was finally able to get off his back but a guillotine attempt was his reward.

He escaped the submission but was met with knees from "The Reem." Now busted open from above his eye and bleeding from his nose, Buentello couldn't help but getting taken down again.

The second round was really just "The Headhunter" trying to survive while Overeem figured out how he wanted to beat him.

He finally decided how and it came via two devastating knees to the body. 

"The Demolition Man" shoved Buentello against the cage and landed one knee. Then another, forcing the American to crumple to the mat and slap his hand down repeatedly. 

Let's make one thing clear: if you're a professional fighter, the odds are in your favor that you're not a wimp, that you can't take punishment. 

So when you see a fighter -- especially one as seasoned as Buentello -- give up because of body blows, you know they are in more pain that any fan is ever likely to feel.

Overeem wrecked "The Headhunter" that night. And in doing so, began to erase the memory of the light heavyweight that could, but didn't, and started to pen the legacy of "Ubereem."

Unfortunately for Strikeforce, it wouldn't be in their promotion. Overeem returned to Japan where he became somewhat of a larger-than-life character. Equal parts mythic figure and devastating fighter, he walked through any and all opponent -- MMA or kickboxing -- that was placed in front of him.

Two and a half years after winning Strikeforce's heavyweight strap, he finally reappeared in their cage, set to take on Brett Rogers, who made his name by knocking out Andrei Arlovski and taking a round from Fedor Emelianenko.

By this point, "Ubereem" was in full effect and his name was spoken alongside Fedor's, Brock's and Cain's.

The matchmaking of pitting him against Rogers was a bit wonky as many felt "Grim" didn't deserve a shot at Overeem's belt coming off a loss to "The Last Emperor."

"The Reem" personified those complaints with a one-round shellacking of his opponent.

The first minute of the fight was spent with the fighters feeling each other out and trying to find their range. When they clinched up, "Ubereem" tossed Rogers across the cage like a ragdoll.

Preferring to stand on his feet while delivering punches, Overeem landed a few punches to his opponent's skull before diving into side mount.

Elbows to the body and to the head were "The Reem's" weapon of choice until "Grim" was able to scramble out from under the huge Dutchman. Unfortunately for him, he immediately found himself once again on his back with "Ubereem" on top.

That's when the champion turned on the gas and landed finishing ground-and-pound, forcing the referee to stop the bout. It was quite a welcome home for Overeem after having been gone nearly three years from the San Jose promotion.

When a fight with "The Last Emperor" failed to materialize, "The Demolition Man" went across the Pacific to compete in the K-1 World Grand Prix.

After winning his first fight by decision, it only took him a little over three and a half minutes to win the tournament, the most prestigious kickboxing competition in the world.

A subsequent 19-second victory over Todd Duffee on New Year's Eve and "Ubereem" finds himself back in the United States. Here, he has a chance to not only avenge his loss to Werdum from 2006 but also solidify himself as a top heavyweight in the sport.

He's the odds on favorite going into the bout but Werdum knows a thing or two about upsets -- on both ends.

Will the legend of "Ubereem" continue or will "Vai Cavalo" bring another legend crashing back down to Earth?

Tune in Saturday night on Showtime to find out.

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