First and foremost, I’d like to thank Bill for inviting me to guest write on his blog. I was truly honored when I received his email asking if I was interested in writing about sports for him, and I couldn’t refuse.
While I am as big a fan of the “mainstream” American sports (NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL and college football and basketball) as anybody else out there, I decided my focus will be more on sports that are not as in the American mainstream. Sports like MMA, Boxing and Soccer. And I’ll be giving my two-cents on another favorite of mine as well – fantasy sports. Not that I’ll never write about the mainstream, but it won’t be my focal point per se.
On that note, for my first ever posting here, I would like to preview the huge Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem fight on Dec. 30th at UFC 141 in Las Vegas. When I say this fight is huge, I mean it figuratively and literally. It’s figurative in that Brock Lesnar is one of only 6 people who have ever gotten the magical 1 million+ North America PPV buys for headlining any single event in the history of the PPV industry. The other 5 are Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar Dela Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Lesnar is also one of only 3 people to ever have two 1 million+ North American PPV events in the same calendar year, along with Tyson and Pacquiao. In short, Lesnar is PPV gold, and UFC 141 should break the 1 million buy barrier.
Tomorrow’s fight will literally be huge as well. Brock is 6’3″ and needs to cut weight from 280-275 lbs. in order to make the MMA heavyweight limit of 265 lbs. Overeem is 6’5″ and will probably be at 255-260 lbs. These are two very, very big boys, thus the Godzilla vs. King Kong analogy. It doesn’t matter either who you think is Godzilla, and who is King Kong. Although truth be told, I tend to think of Brock as King Kong, with his brute strength, and Overeem as Godzilla, due to his range. Ironically enough, just like in boxing, lighter weight class fights in MMA are usually more exciting and more technically pleasing than the heavyweight ones. But, there’s something to be said about the excitement of seeing two massively muscle bound guys facing each other.
So who do I think will win? This is an interesting fight for me for a lot of reasons – not just the physical nature of it, but because there are a lot of unknowns concerning both fighters heading into this. This is Brock’s first fight in over a year, as he had surgery for diverticulitis. The disease itself has been an issue with him for the last 3 years, and at one point threatened his life. He claims this is the best he’s felt since before he got the disease; ring rust could be a factor however. Not to mention he is 34 years old, and while he is an athletic freak in that he is strong as a bull but amazingly quick for his size, speed and reflexes are usually the first thing to start to go as an athlete gets older.
Brock has also seen the holes in his standup game exposed by Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin. Overeem is a better fighter on his feet than those two, as he is actually the reigning K-1 World Grand Prix champion. In fact, I’d say Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos is the only heavyweight with better standup than Overeem currently in the UFC roster. If he can keep it on the feet, then it’s advantage Overeem.
But that’s the rub – I don’t think this fight will stay off the ground for long. Overeem has shown decent takedown defense, but he’s never faced a world class caliber of wrestler as Lesnar, who was a NCAA national champion in wrestling. Brock has taken down to the ground everyone he’s ever fought; the question isn’t if he can take you down, it’s if he can keep you down. He couldn’t keep Cain down and lost. He kept Carwin, Mir and Couture down and he won. Simple equation, really.
I don’t think Overeem has the ground game to be able to get it back to the feet after Brock takes him down. His best chance at winning is to catch Brock early in the standup, or to counter Brock’s takedown attempt by timing a knee to Brock’s face perfectly. Don’t think that’s going to happen though. My prediction: Brock wins in Round 2 by referee stoppage after he grounds and pounds Overeem senseless.