Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight monsters Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem went to war last night (Dec. 19, 2015) at UFC on FOX 17 inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Though there was plenty of speculation as to whether or not dos Santos' was slowing down, his recent record couldn't be doubted. If "JDS" could follow up his strong win over Stipe Miocic with a finish, there's little question that the Brazilian would be deserving of a title shot.
On the other hand, this was Overeem's last shot at getting into the title mix. Overeem's UFC career has already had many ups and downs, and "The Reem" likely couldn't afford another loss on his record if he wanted to continue getting fights against the upper echelon of the division.
For the first three minutes of the fight, the two men circled each other, feinted, and threw a couple of kicks. Considering the knockout ability of both men, it's hard to blame them for being hesitant.
Things heated up just a touch in the final two minutes. Overeem began to work with his lunging punches and kicks, and a decent amount of them landed.
"JDS," on the other hand, threw and landed almost nothing, which certainly cost him the round.
Overeem opened the next round with a lot of kicks, trying to work his opponent over from the distance. While he wasn't dominating, dos Santos simply wasn't throwing many strikes, which allowed his opponent to control the range.
As Overeem continued to land heavy kicks to the body and leg, "JDS" finally found an opportunity to pin his opponent along the fence. After landing a couple punches, dos Santos allowed his opponent off the fence for no understandable reason.
That was a near-fatal mistake.
Just moments later, Overeem loaded up and landed a long left hook. Dos Santos went down hard and was slow to react, which allowed Overeem to continue swarming with punches. While dos Santos never stopped moving, he also wasn't really defending himself, causing the referee to halt the bout.
It was a slow start, but this was a huge victory for Overeem. For the first time in his UFC career, Overeem was matched up with a top contender and managed to come out on top.
A big part of this victory can be credited to Overeem's patience. He really took his time, avoiding any sloppy mistakes (i.e. the Ben Rothwell fight) or gassing himself out (i.e. the Travis Browne fight). Overeem is an absolutely lethal striker that has multiple strikes that can easily finish a fight, so waiting for the right moment is definitely a smart strategy for him.
Additionally, Overeem never allowed dos Santos to find his range. Each time dos Santos tried to close the distance, Overeem either circled away or stuffed his forward movement with some hard kicks.
Overeem already mentioned that he was interested in playing the market as a free agent, so it will be interesting to see where he heads from here. If he does stay in the UFC, it's likely that he'll use his negotiating power to get a title shot or at least number one contender's fight.
For dos Santos, he never really turned it on. While he was getting out-worked at range, he never really did anything to change that. Dos Santos never threw long combinations, never tried to cut off the cage, nor did he ever do anything resembling a pressure game plan.
Instead, dos Santos circled around his opponent and got picked apart.
Strategically, dos Santos did little but rely on the fact that a knockout punch would eventually land. While he was waiting for that to happen, he found himself falling to the mat, barely awake.
Where dos Santos goes from here is unclear. He's taken a ton of abuse in recent years, and it may be starting to show, as "JDS" did not look particularly quick. It may be best for him to receive a step back in competition -- perhaps a rematch with Roy Nelson -- as then we could see where "Cigano" stands, and it would be a chance to rebuild some confidence.
Last night, Alistair Overeem knocked out Junior dos Santos. Where will the Dutchman go from here?
For complete UFC on FOX 17 "Dos Anjos vs Cerrone" results and play-by-play, click HERE!