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Alistair Overeem became the first Strikeforce Heavyweight champion on November 16, 2007, when he defeated Paul Buentello via submission (knees to the body). He has defended the title… wait for it… 0 times. I am not here to rip on Overeem; in fact he’s probably my favorite fighter in all of mixed marital arts. But 0 title defenses in 29 months? How is that possible? If Strikeforce wants to really challenge the UFC then they certainly can’t allow nearly 2.5 years to pass in between title fights in a particular division. This proves that non-exclusive contracts (something you won’t find in the UFC) can be both beneficial as well as problematic.
Well what has Overeem been doing the last 29 months? Despite 0 fights for Strikeforce, he’s actually kept quite busy. The former PRIDE 205lb fighter stayed active fighting in DREAM, Dyanmite!, Ultimate Glory and K-1. He was also involved in a bar brawl with his brother Valentijn, which postponed fights and nearly cost Alistair his hand.
His MMA record since the Buentello victory is 6-0-1. The no contest came in a bout he was winning against Mirko Cro Cop, but Overeem sent one of Cro Cop’s testicles deep into his body, ending the fight. Gross, but true.
Why is the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion fighting James Thompson (yes, the guy with the sick cauliflower-ear that lost to Kimbo Slice) in a random fight in DREAM? You got me. Do you think Brock Lesnar would go fight Travis Wiuff in Bellator?
Besides fights in 2008 with Cro Cop and Mark Hunt, Overeem has not matched up with anyone remotely close to a Top 10 ranking. And let’s face it, it was a long time ago when Cro Cop and Hunt were legitimate heavyweight powers.
Regardless of all the time that has past, this Saturday night on Showtime (anyone get Showtime? I mean anyone?) Overeem will put his belt on the line against Brett Rogers, a bona fide Top Ranked heavyweight. This will be The Demolition Man’s toughest test at Heavyweight, but certainly not his toughest opponent.
While fighting in PRIDE, Alistair was a part of perhaps the most stacked division in the history of any organization. (Yes the UFC LHW is loaded right now.) The PRIDE middleweight division, which was 205 pounds featured: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Antonio Rogerio Noguiera, Ricardo Arona, Dan Henderson, Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Kevin Randleman, and many others.
Overeem was in the top tier of that group, and made the semifinals of the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix where he lost to Shogun, the eventual champ. He holds 2 wins over Belfort, but 2 losses to both Shogun and Lil Nog. Since then he has packed on a lot of muscle and become a Top 10 Heavyweight. He reportedly put on so much weight by eating horses. Seriously. Something to do with the protein… moving on.
Despite rumors and even an appearance with Dana White at UFC 93 in Ireland, Alistair Overeem has never fought in the UFC’s octagon. He is probably 1 of only a handful of fighters that Dana White would undoubtedly want to sign, but hasn’t. This makes Overeem a very valuable commodity for Strikeforce.
Their perfect scenario? Overeem dominates Rogers on Saturday, and he builds a bigger fan base in the U.S. Then Fedor defeats Fabricio Werdum on June 26, setting up an Alistair vs. Fedor Heavyweight Title Fight. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take 2.5 years to happen.
If you’re not that familiar with Alistair Overeem, check out one of his highlight reels.