Lesnar, Overeem take aim at dos Santos
As the UFC made its network television debut Saturday night with the first UFC on FOX event, all eyes were on Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos as they fought for the UFC heavyweight title.
But two pairs of eyes were on them much more intently than most: Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar and Overeem are scheduled to headline UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. The winner of their bout will go on to battle dos Santos in the spring for the title he just took from Velasquez.
So Saturday night’s fight held plenty of interest for them.
The bottom line coming out of all of this is that we are seeing something seemingly unprecedented in MMA history. Something we haven’t seen before in Pride, not in the early days of the UFC, and not even up until this point of UFC dominance of the MMA landscape.
The best four heavyweights on the planet are going to have fought a mini-tournament of sorts to establish the undisputed heavyweight championship.
We’ve never had this in MMA history. For as much as it was seemingly undisputed that the best heavyweight in the world was Fedor Emelianenko during the glory days of Pride, the best heavyweights in the world weren’t all in that promotion. You could’ve made a case for someone like Randy Couture or Tim Sylvia back then, albeit a very tough one, but the debate still raged on. Pride never pulled this off, either, and the UFC has never had enough of the best talent under contract to truly pull it off — until this point.
While some fans might argue that Lesnar and Overeem could be considered overrated, the bottom line is that both have been high-profile champions who defeated some of the best in the division. Lesnar holds a win over a prime Couture and Shane Carwin, while Overeem is coming off a big win over Fabricio Werdum during the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. On top of being great MMA fighters, both men are remarkable athletes in other sports as well, like dos Santos and Velasquez.
Lesnar’s amateur wrestling credentials are fairly substantial, winning an NCAA title and finishing second to freestyle world champion Stephen Neal after two junior-college All-American campaigns. A freak of an athlete, Lesnar made it to the final cuts of a strong Minnesota Vikings team despite a torn groin and not having played the sport since high school.
Overeem has similar credentials in the realm of kickboxing. He holds wins over K-1 legends Badr Hari and Peter Aerts and is the reigning K-1 World Grand Prix champion, no easy feat in any aspect and much more impressive seeing he knocked both of them out. Overeem was a light-heavyweight mainstay of Pride in MMA as well, having fought in both kickboxing and MMA over the past couple of years before leaving Strikeforce and signing with the UFC exclusively earlier this year.
When the dust is settled, this spring should crown the UFC heavyweight champion and the undisputed No. 1 heavyweight in the world. And it’ll be the first time in MMA history we’ll know who that is. There’ll be no legitimate debates, and the man holding on to the UFC heavyweight title will be the best on the planet. That’s historic.