Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone after UFC Vegas 9 went down last Sat. night (Sept. 5, 2020) inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Alonzo Menifield after he was knocked out by Ovince Saint Preux (see it again here). And Ray Rodriguez, who was choked out by Brian Kelleher in just 39 seconds.
But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Coming into his first-ever headlining duties under the UFC banner, Sakai had the chance to pick up the biggest win of his career by taking out longtime Heavyweight staple, Alistair Overeem. By accomplishing that feat, the 29-year heavy hitter had a one-way ticket to the Top 5.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian bomber, his six-fight win streak came to an end after “The Reem” ground-and-pounded him out in the fifth and final frame of the main event. Things started off positive for Sakai, who took round one on my scorecard. From there, however, Overeem adjusted like the true veteran that he is and went on to notch rounds two, three and a dominant fourth, which signaled the beginning of the end for Sakai.
At the onset of the fifth round, Overeem managed to take down his fellow big man. From there the former Strikeforce and DREAM Heavyweight champion did what he does best, and that’s punish his foes with his relentless and lethal ground-and-pound attack, ultimately forcing the stoppage just 26 seconds in.
The win gave Overeem his fourth in five tries and a nice boost in the championship hunt. For Sakai, though, it’s back to the drawing board after suffering the first knockout loss of his entire career, which saw him compete numerous time under the Bellator MMA banner before heading over to UFC via the “Contender Series.”
It’s a tough loss for Sakai, who was ever-so close from making a push at the Top 5. And it wasn’t a case of throwing the Brazilian big man in there too soon with someone like Overeem, since he’s been fighting professionally for nearly 10 years with major organizations. And though he was only four fights deep into his UFC career, his experience level to face someone like Overeem was already established.
Despite the hiccup, Sakai has youth on his side as he is still just 29 years old so he has plenty of time to make some moves and improve.
As for what’s next for him, perhaps a showdown against Junior dos Santos is in order. “JDS” has been struggling mightily as of late, losing three straight to Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. A win for Sakai helps him get over the tough loss to “The Reem,” all while giving him a big name on his resume. Granted, “Cigano” isn’t the same beast he was a few years back, but he still carries some weight with his name.