clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Saturday Night's Mania Event: The UFC needs Alistair Overeem

New, 141 comments

Inevitably, there are some of you that just read that headline and thought, "Captain Obvious is back with another article." The rest of you likely shook your head and dismissed such an outrageous claim.

This is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) we're talking about, after all. Why would they need a heavyweight whose toughest competition of the past four years was Fabricio Werdum, a guy that couldn't cut it with the big boys in Las Vegas?

Let me answer your question with one of my own: Have you taken the time to actually sit down and flesh out the UFC heavyweight division? It's actually pretty bleak. And by "pretty" I mean "extremely."

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos, which will be the lead fight for the promotion on its debut on network TV on Nov. 12 in Anaheim, is a heavyweight title fight even casual fans can get behind. There's a lot to like about two big men that aren't comically over-sized but are big enough to mean business while maintaining a certain level of fighting skill and a gas tank that won't run dry inside the first four minutes.

By the time all is said and done, FOX will most likely be happier than a tornado in a trailer park, UFC will have put on an exciting heavyweight championship fight and will have built a veritable pay-per-view star in the process. The idea is that whoever wins will become a bonafide superstar thanks to a bigger audience than has ever been exposed to the product before.

Fans will want to tune in to witness the winner's next title defense, or if it's dos Santos, the first. They'll pay money to see this on pay-per-view or at least that's the idea. There's just one problem with that ... who the hell are they going to have to challenge for the title.

Even a cursory glance at the rankings in the UFC heavyweight division reveals a serious lack of credible title contenders. We're not talking 2006 when Tim Sylvia ruled the roost but if Randy Couture came out of retirement to fight at heavyweight today, he might be one win away from a title shot.


Let's look at this disaster of a division and why Alistair Overeem can be its saving grace.

Thankfully, SB Nation has partnered up with USA Today to provide a tried-and-true method of compiling rankings for each of the seven major weight classes. So we'll use that to run down the list of heavyweights currently on the UFC roster. This should illustrate exactly how bleak the future is after Velasquez vs. Dos Santos.

4. Brock Lesnar

Hasn't competed since Oct. 2010 when he was smashed to pieces and turned into a cartwheeling circus act by Cain Velasquez, who opened up a hole in his face the size of a crater. Has had not one but two well publicized battles with the deadly intestinal disease diverticulitis and hasn't even gotten back into the gym to begin training yet.

7. Frank Mir

Has fought just twice over the past year and while they were both victories, neither came without its problems. He defeated Mirko Filipovic at UFC 119 in a snoozefest, so much so that despite it being the lone knockout on the card, it wasn't awarded "Knockout of the Night" honors. His victory over Roy Nelson this past May was almost as equally uninspiring.

8. Shane Carwin

Is on a two-fight losing streak, having dropped a title shot against Lesnar and a number one contender bout against dos Santos, and is currently riding the pine with multiple injuries.

10. Brendan Schaub

Had his four-fight win streak snapped via embarrassing face plant style knockout at the hands of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who was returning from a layoff of well over a year and hadn't won a fight in two years.

11. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

See above. Won his last bout by knockout but turned 35-years-old in June and is self-admittedly not back to 100-percent healthy. There's also the hurdle that if dos Santos wins the title, he won't fight his teammate.

14. Roy Nelson

Has lost consecutive fights to dos Santos and Frank Mir, the latter of which consisted of such a poor performance UFC President Dana White verbally berated him in the media regarding his excessive weight. Will battle Mirko Filipovic at UFC 137 on Oct. 29.

15. Cheick Kongo

2-0-1 in his last three bouts but owns losses to both Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir before his recent run. Squares off against Matt Mitirione at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 but even with a win, it would be an impossible task to pass him off as a legitimate title challenger.

16. Travis Browne

Undefeated prospect who most recently knocked out Stefan Struve at UFC 130 but is booked for a bout against Rob Broughton at UFC 135 on Sept. 24. He's rapidly approaching "in the mix" status but he's still on the outside looking in and will be for the foreseeable future.

17. Matt Mitrione

Has never lost in his career and has gradually progressed throughout each of his five career fights but he's been put on the slow track. His most significant victory was at the expense of Kimbo Slice. That tells you all you need to know. He's set up to square off against Cheick Kongo at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 to continue his rise through the ranks.

18. Mike Russow

Aaaaand cut the mic.

That's the future, my friends. Not a single one of them, as we speak, is truly worthy of taking on the winner of Velasquez vs. Dos Santos. Not one.

Enter the man ranked number three in the world, Alistair Overeem.

The UFC is reportedly in negotiations to bring him on board and are apparently close to a deal that will see him sign with the promotion within the next few weeks. This is widely regarded as a foregone conclusion but things being as they were at various points in history with his management team, Golden Glory, anything can happen.

That being said, the powers that be need to realize just how valuable the "Demolition Man" can be. In fact, not only is he the best option right now, he's the only option.

It's been widely speculated that when he signs with the promotion, his first fight is likely to be against either Brock Lesnar or Frank Mir. If the UFC does indeed follow through with either plan, it will be an egregious mistake. As it stands now, there are no clear cut number one contenders to the heavyweight throne that are currently under contract with UFC.

Until "The Reem" signs on the dotted line.

Allow me to play fantasy booker for just a second here. The most foolproof way of taking advantage of Overeem's current standing in the mixed martial arts world is to sign him to a deal but keep it quiet for the next couple months. Or they could simply wait until the last minute to actually get him under contract, either way works fine.

Then they have him come to the UFC on FOX 1 show on Nov. 12 in Anaheim and announce his signing with the promotion on national television in front of what should be the largest audience in the history of MMA. You pump him up as the Strikeforce heavyweight champion, the K-1 kickboxing champion, the deadly Dutchman; all that good stuff. They have already shown little aversion to promoting a "Champion vs. Champion" fight even if it's not exactly the case, so why not do the same here?

After they announce that Overeem has signed with the promotion and have sufficiently pumped him up as the next coming of Christ, complete with video packages of his various highlights (and there are plenty to choose from), Velasquez and Dos Santos have their battle inside the Octagon. The winner, hopefully after a back-and-forth war of attrition, gives his post-fight speech and talks about how honored he is to have won and/or defended the heavyweight title on network TV.

They bring in Overeem at this point, who is then announced as the next challenger to that same heavyweight championship and the two square off in the center of the cage. Boom, the fight is set for a later date on pay-per-view and you've guaranteed a successful buyrate and if the performance of the winner was spectacular enough, you've got a veritable mega-event on your hands.

Don't waste Overeem on Mir and don't waste him on Lesnar. He's far too valuable right here and now to risk any of that, especially considering the fact that he's not a proven draw just yet. He won't need to be if he's promoted right on FOX, and the ensuing "Champion vs. Champion" match-up will be a winner, no matter what.

If one of the major purposes of the UFC making a deal with FOX is to create stars on pay-per-view, this is the only way I see them being able to adequately do so in its debut effort.

If you've got a better idea, feel free to offer it up. I don't think you do, though.