Alistair Overeem Is Underrated, Not Overrated

Overrated, over-hyped, and fraud are just some recent MMA headlines regarding Alistair Overeem. If you read the headlines without seeing the fight you would think he actually lost to Fabricio Werdum.

I am a little surprised at the reaction that Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem has received since defeating Fabricio Werdum via decision to advance in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. Quite frankly I find it laughable that a guy that just weeks ago that some touted as the next heavyweight MMA star has all of the sudden become a dud in one fight…a fight he won.

I get it. The Demolition Man didn’t come into the cage and swarm Werdum with an onslaught of strikes that most MMA fans hoped he would do. It certainly wasn’t the kind of performance that fans have been accustomed to seeing from the champion. However, the guy did what he had to do to win and fought a smart fight. If anything, I think Alistair Overeem’s stock went up with this fight.

Nobody ever questioned Overeem’s striking going into the fight. Overeem is arguably the best heavyweight striker in MMA and has the K1 Grand Prix title to back that up. But what critics did question were his stamina and ground skills. Overeem is getting a lot of heat for tiring out in the final round on Saturday. I think that is a little unfair. He was conditioned enough to make sure that he wasn’t caught in anything compromising nor did he stand around with his hands down. I think people are being a little unfair about that criticism.

Then there were the questions regarding his ground skills. Whether we like what Werdum did Saturday or not, he is one of the best BJJ heavyweights in MMA. Guess what? Werdum never tapped Overeem. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have his chances. They were on the ground at various points of the fight and Werdum was never able to sink his vices into the champ. Additionally, I think Overeem is being unfairly criticized by people who say he just laid on top of Werdum. How do we know Overeem wasn’t playing a very careful game of defense? Even still, he was on the ground and the great BJJ master Fabricio Werdum was never able to take advantage of him.

There were also reports about Werdum winning the striking battle against Overeem. Overeem has dismissed those reports and said that none of Werdum’s strikes ever hurt him. He even joked about it two days later in an interview with Ariel Helwani when he asked Helwani if he looked beaten up. He expanded a little more later in the interview.

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I’m not impressed with his striking,” Overeem said. “He does not hit hard. He was using his strikes to set up his takedowns, but there was no damage. I was annoyed. … When you look at a fight, who’s more dominant? You can see who’s more dominant.

Another big criticism of Overeem for years is that he hasn’t fought top competition. Alistair Overeem just defeated a guy who just had back to back wins against Antonio Silva and Fedor Emilenanko and now all of the sudden he is easy pickings for Antonio Silva or any of the elite UFC heavyweights? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Finally, I find it laughable that critics have immediately dismissed him against Big Foot Silva or Josh Barnett in future tournament fights. Junior Dos Santos gassed out and lost the third round to Roy Nelson, yet one fight later he is now the biggest threat to Cain Velasquez. Velasquez couldn’t put away perennial UFC heavyweight loser Cheick Kongo and now he is the most dangerous fighter on the planet. The great MMA fighters win through bad performances and rebound in future fights. Whether Alistair Overeem is a great fighter is arguable, but nothing on Saturday told me that he wasn’t.

Until Overeem walks into the UFC and knocks out their heavyweight champion he will always have his critics. I don’t know why people are so quick to write someone off who just won a fight but that is okay. I think Alistair Overeem will have the last laugh when he holds the Grand Prix trophy high in one hand and a contract to fight the UFC heavyweight champion in the other.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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