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Is Alistair Overeem the best heavyweight in MMA?

Wednesday 05th, January 2011 / 10:29 Written by

Is Alistair Overeem the best heavyweight in MMA?He won three world titles across two continents in one year. He had five fights stopped due to TKO or knockout in one round. He has the most dominant year in heavyweight combat sports and his name isn’t Brock, Cain, or Fedor. Alistair Overeem dominated 2010 and may be the best heavyweight in MMA.

It is funny when you debate the best in MMA and talk about heavyweights. The overall consensus nowadays is UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. After his dominant 2010, the champ is universally regarded as number one. The debate at number two across MMA forums and websites bounce back between Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emelianenko. The irony here is that arguably the best heavyweight fighter in MMA barely makes most top five arguments and chances are he would beat any and all of the top ten if given the chance.

Alistair Overeem doesn’t get the recognition he rightly deserves. I think a part of this is his own fault. Coming into 2010 Overeem was simply known as that heavyweight champion in Strikeforce who never fights. He sure changed that in the last twelve months. If you go back to his loss last December in the K1 Grand Prix tournament, Overeem has since run off one of the most impressive streak of high level fighting since Fedor’s run last decade. Granted the better competition came in kick boxing, I really think that the K1 success needs to be taken into account when assessing Overeem as an MMA fighter. If Cain Velasquez entered and won the Abu Dhabi championship in 2010 you can’t tell me that fans wouldn’t take that into account when assessing his success as an MMA fighter for the year.

Now before hardcore MMA fans start screaming about Overeem’s competition, I will agree he doesn’t always fight the best available opponents. However, I think there is something to be said about a guy that takes eight fights in twelve months and wins seven of them in the first round via TKO or KO regardless of the competition. His destruction of Brett Rogers may not be impressive if you look at Rogers record and experience. However,  Rogers did win a round against the great Fedor Emelianenko. Gokham Saki, Kazuyuki Fujita, Tyrone Spong, and certainly Peter Aerts are not pushovers. Alistair Overeem is on fire!

Overeem’s success in kickboxing arguably makes him the best striker in all of heavyweight MMA. Combined with his awesome submission skills, he is a heavyweight fighting machine. Brock Lesnar wouldn’t stand a chance. Cain Velasquez would have a hard time countering him. Frank Mir and Shane Carwin would have puncher’s chances but would get creamed on the ground. Fedor Emelianenko looks like he may be at an age where his speed and reflexes wouldn’t match Overeem. We will find out soon enough about Fabricio Werdum. If those are your standard top MMA heavyweight fighters than I feel that Overeem is currently number one.

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It is funny because even after Fedor lost to Fabricio Werdum there are still MMA fans banging the drum for the UFC to sign Fedor. I think if Dana White was going to put $30 million into Fedor a few years back, the signing of Overeem would be a no brainer. In addition to his fighting acumen, Overeem is an entertainer. As a pro wrestling fan growing up, Overeem gets the show aspect of combat sports and can be a marketing gold mine for the UFC if he were to win the heavyweight title.

Of course Overeem is under contract to Strikeforce which at this point makes signing him a moot point. However, this is not a situation like the Fedor-UFC negotiations where you have bad blood between two parties here that could prevent business. Dana White and Overeem have publicly appeared together and Overeem has even said that he would like to fight in the UFC at some point. Until Overeem becomes a free agent a deal with the UFC isn’t anything to speculate on.

The baggage with Overeem is that he is seen as an elite fighter that ducks competition. His detractors will say that Overeem would rather take a weaker fight in another country where he is more popular than step up and face the best. I disagree. Entering K1 Grand Prix tournaments two years in a row eliminates that myth as far as I am concerned. Additionally, Overeem has been calling out Fedor for months. While Fedor may or may not be on the decline of his career, he is the best available opponent for Overeem in MMA. The fact that the two haven’t fought or signed a fight is nothing that can be laid at the feet of Overeem. That could change in 2011.

2011 could be a huge year for Overeem. Cain Velasquez’s rotator cuff injury could keep him from fighting until November. Brock Lesnar seems more interested in wrestling the Undertaker at WrestleMania 27 than fighting at this point. Alistair Overeem has entered the Strikforce Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament. Overeem took the toughest first round match against Fabricio Werdum and would fight Fedor Emelianenko if both win their opening round fights.  If Overeem wins the tournament he would have to beat Werdum and likely Fedor in one year. Overeem will likely return to the K1 Grand Prix to defend his crown barring injury. If Overeem beats Werdum, Fedor and wins the K1, he would have to be recognized as the best MMA heavyweight in the world hands down.

Those are a lot of ifs but if the Demolition Man can make it happen, he can turn himself into the most popular heavyweight fighter not in the UFC since Fedor.

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