When Alistair Overeem entered the Octagon for the first time, he was a rock star.
The reigning Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion had won the K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix in kickboxing, had not been defeated in 11 mixed martial arts (MMA) fights over a four year period and many were hailing him as the next potential UFC champion.
His first round destruction of former champion and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar only made the hype reach more epic proportions.
But everything has gone wrong since that December 2011 evening, culminating in Overeem's first round knockout defeat to Travis Browne in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 26 last night (Aug. 17, 2013) at the TD Garden in Boston, MA.
One of the big narratives heading into Overeem's showdown with Browne was the fact that he didn't seem as popular as before. His mystique had worn off ever since the failed testosterone ratio test following the UFC 146 announcement press conference, his nine month fight license suspension and his subsequent third round knockout defeat at the hands of Antonio Silva earlier this year.
Just like the Silva fight, Overeem started strong against Browne, hurting "Hapa" with a big knee to the body and pouring it on with huge punches along the fence. Against lesser men, he'd have likely scored a TKO finish, but Browne barely held on and managed to not only survive, but then knock "The Reem" out with a beautiful front kick to the face.
At this point, one must ask whether Overeem is more trouble than he's worth.
UFC was willing to put up with Overeem's questionable period of growth into an elite heavyweight, the runaround he gave the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) prior to the Lesnar fight and even the failed drug test which forced him out of the UFC 146 main event title picture. They gritted their teeth and beared it because he was still a winner, he still mattered in the heavyweight division.
But what now, after two straight knockout losses in fights he seemingly had in the bag? UFC President Dana White fielded questions about the current Blackzilian at last night's media scrum and had some interesting remarks regarding "The Reem."
"You guys especially believed [Overeem] was the best at one time. He had a big following. You bring a guy like that in and you see what happens. You bring in guys who are the best in the world or supposedly the best in the world and we find out. That's what we do."
When asked about Overeem's future, White had a short and simple reply:
"I have no idea. I don't know."
Not exactly a vote of confidence from the boss.
Based on details recovered from a lawsuit filed against Overeem by his former management after he signed with UFC, it's public knowledge that the former K-1 Grand Prix Champion is in the middle of an eight fight UFC contract. Overeem was paid a $1 million signing bonus spread out over his first three fights with the promotion ending with his performance last night. He also was raking in $250,000+ per fight as well as a pay-per-view (PPV) cut on major UFC events.
At this point in his deal, UFC was probably hoping Overeem would have either fought for the belt with a huge buyrate or be defending his title by now. Would it really be worth it to pay him that much money to fight Mark Hunt or Stefan Struve?
That's for the UFC brass to decide, but things certainly don't look good for the powerful Dutchman.