ALISTAIR Overeem, one of the biggest names in fighting sports, a veteran of more than 80 professional fights across kickboxing and MMA, faces perhaps the final ‘now or never’ junction in his celebrated double-decade career this weekend in Las Vegas.
The London-born, Netherlands-raised, currently US-based ‘Demolition Man’ has won towering trophies and iconic championship belts on at least three continents over the past 22 years. But now aged 40 time is running out on his aspirations to claim UFC gold.
Ranked #5 in the heavyweight division, ‘The Reem’ is in the kind of form which led to his 2015 title fight run, when he won four-straight inside the Octagon, only to be knocked out in the first round against then and current heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic.
Overeem’s current form should read 5-0. However, sandwiched in between four knockout victories is the December 2019 TKO defeat to Surinam’s Jairzinho Rozenstruik, when he was cruising towards a shutout five-round points decision before getting dropped and stopped by a big right hand in the final 10 seconds.
— UFC (@ufc) February 3, 2021
Should the 80+ fight veteran get his armed raised behind closed doors at the UFC Apex in the early hours of Sunday morning, he could find himself within touching distance of a swan song heavyweight title opportunity before the year is out.
Six-foot-seven, #6 ranked Russian Alexander Volkov will be in the opposing corner and the 32-year-old will enter as the betting favourite with only two losses in his last 10 fights. He’s younger, fresher and still very much defining his fighting legacy.
Volkov’s 75% finish rate doesn’t hold a torch to Overeem’s astounding 89% stats. But it’s the opposite side of the KO ratio which goes against the older statesman: 50% of Volkov’s losses were finishes, whereas Overeem’s been saved by the referee 15 times in 18 MMA defeats (83%).
Styles make fights though and these two are some of the very best kickboxers in the biggest division. But what we have also seen from The Reem of late is a willingness to take fights to the mat if and when the going gets tough and while he’s not choked anybody in over a decade, he does have a wide array of 17 submissions on his resume.
Experience goes with Overeem, of course, after all he’s already beaten up a handful of former UFC champions, whereas Volkov goes in search of the biggest scalp of his career this weekend.
Overeem knows what is at stake: all hopes and dreams he has of fighting for the heavyweight title. In victory he’s likely one more win away from a second chance at MMA’s grandest prize. In defeat, he’s facing down the barrel of two more years competition and likely four straight wins.
Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones awaits the winner of Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 scheduled for March. If Overeem wants to be the next guy in line then he has to finish Volkov in style then make his claim for a final eliminator this summer.