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Why Alistair Overeem never captured UFC gold

  • The 'Demolition Man' Alistair Overeem has had an impressive career despite not holding UFC gold.
  • Is the UFC career of Alistair Overeem truly successful without it's top prize?
ANALYST
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Modified 15 May 2020, 18:16 IST

The Demolition Man Alistair Overeem
The Demolition Man Alistair Overeem

If resumes could guarantee titles, Alistair Overeem would be a long time holder of UFC gold. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. And the likelihood now of reaching that pinnacle is slipping away.

The 39-year-old Dutchman does hold records that frankly won't be matched, let alone beaten. That puts him in rarefied company. He's the only fighter to hold the jewels of three organizations simultaneously. Those being Strikeforce, K-1, and Dream. He and Mirko Cro Cop are the only two fighters to hold straps in MMA and K-1. With the impressive list of fighters that could have done that, it says a lot.

Overeem conquered the beast on his UFC debut

Overeem destroyed Brock Lesnar at UFC 141
Overeem destroyed Brock Lesnar at UFC 141

When he first entered the UFC he lived up to his hype popping the myth that was Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. It only took him 2:26 to do it, and it could have come faster too. That had him winning 11 of 12. He should have faced Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title. But failing the NSAC drug test, and by a monstrous margin harpooned that.

At that time, on that date, and with the streak, he was on; he may very well have kicked a hole right through Junior. That started all the rumors. Just how clean was he. Yes record-setter, yes impressive athlete, and yes arguably the greatest grappler and kickboxer in all of Europe. But was he doing it dirty?

He came back and was lighting Antonio Silva up like a Christmas tree. A fateful mistake in the opening minute of the 3rd round had him looking up at the lights of the Mandalay Bay in Vegas. But he was clean. Whether that made a difference no one will ever know. And the same thing happened again in his next fight, with Travis Browne. The only difference was he didn't get out of the 1st round.

Then he rebuilt from the bottom up, climbing the rankings and not jumping the queue. By the time he faced a surging Stipe Miocic, his body had a lot of miles on it. And all the abuse slowed it down somewhat. It kind of sent a message. Yes, you're a legend, a star of the game, but the belt is now out of your reach with this new younger crop of fighters. Although like Rocky Balboa told Tommy Gunn, "Hey, you got 2 arms and a heartbeat, you got a shot".

If you look at his UFC run, that's exactly what its turned into. A star that can take out upper mid-tier fighters, but struggles with the young lions of the division. His last 5 fights have all been KO finishes. But in the end, he's lost 3 of them. He's only gone to the judges' scorecards 3 times with the company. Yes exciting to watch, but bad if on the wrong side of those finishes.

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Overeem is 10-7 in the UFC. And 7-7 minus the judges. Even when he gets finished outside of the Francis Ngannou fight he doesn't get wrecked. He's in them for a couple of minutes. What it seems like this icon of the sport has become is the one thing that fighters don't want to be; a gatekeeper.

Only in time can we tell how history will look back at his career overall. And a key part to it will be like the case with many athletes. What did they do clean, and what did they do dirty. There's no doubt if the UFC was the wild west, he would have been champion.

Does he belong in the Hall Of Fame one day? Absolutely. In the winding days of his career will he get to hold the one organization's top prize that has eluded him? Sadly, not likely. You can bet deep down that bothers him too.


Published 15 May 2020, 18:16 IST
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