Last night (August 17, 2013), Alistair Overeem fought Travis Browne in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 26 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The fight was part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) debut on the newly created Fox Sports 1, a network designed to directly compete with the ABC/Disney-owned ESPN.
Overeem was the favorite heading in to the fight and looked every bit the killer that he was billed to be when he entered the cage. A certifiable super hero, or at least a mortal looking the part. And from the sound of the opening bell, he charged forward looking to finish Browne immediately.
The problem was that the majority of punches weren't landing cleanly, yet he never relented and reset. Instead, he pressed on, throwing power shot after power shot, to the arms of of the Hawaiian fighter. There's a very real issue with this strategy. While his physique is statuesque, it's not build for such high volume output.
Within three minutes, the former K-1 Grand Prix champion was so exhausted that his hands started to drop to his waist. By the four minute mark, he just didn't have the gas tank to keep his hands up, which opened him up for the fight ending front kick to the chin.
It marks Overeem's second straight loss in the UFC by TKO, a stark comparison to the man who was expected to rule the UFC's heavyweight division after destroying former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the first round of UFC 141.
The fight with Lesnar seems like a lifetime ago at this point.
The victory over Lesnar earned Overeem a title shot against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he failed his pre-fight drug test with a 14:1 testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, way outside the 6:1 allowable levels. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended him for nine months and he lost his shot at the gold.
After last night's performance, I'm unsure what the UFC does with Overeem. And apparently, neither does UFC President Dana White.
When Jon Fitch was cut by Zuffa following his loss to Demian Maia at UFC 156, White justified the move saying "Jon Fitch isn't cheap." Fitch took home $66,000 for his final fight in the UFC. If Fitch's contract wasn't cheap, then Overeem's $671,428 in disclosed pay for his previous two outings in the Octagon, is "break the bank" expensive.
Overeem was signed to compete at the top of the UFC's heavyweight division. It was expected that he'd find himself in the title picture with Dos Santos and UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Now? He's lucky if his next bout is on the main card.
At 1-2 in the UFC, with the two losses coming at the hands of "second tier" competition, Overeem's run in the organization is clearly a disappointment. He'll never sniff the title picture, but he's still a big enough name that the UFC cannot afford to let him test the free agency market. Bellator/Viacom would love to build their heavyweight division around a marketable fighter such as Overeem as would the World Series of Fighting.
But at the same time, the UFC needs to figure out if the costs are outweighed by the benefits. Overeem still carries a name, but his reputation of being an invincible destroyer takes a hit with every loss. The second that fans start to view him as just an impressive physique and not a competent fighter, the benefits shrink rapidly.
The UFC has a decision to make in the upcoming days. I hope for Overeem's sake they want to give him another shot in the Octogon, but I wouldn't blame them if they don't.
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