As most predicted, the Brock-Overeem fight did not last long; it did not even last one-half of the very first round. And in the end, Alistair Overeem proved me wrong and TKO’d Brock Lesnar at the 2:26 mark of Round 1. Not only that, Brock promptly announced during his post-fight interview in the Octagon that he is retiring from MMA.
As expected, it was Brock’s old bugaboo that got him – his standup was just not up to par versus Overeem’s superior skills on the feet. Overeem concentrated his strikes on Brock’s body, throwing some beautiful knees to the solar plexus. Overeem then finished the fight with a textbook kickboxer’s body kick to the liver which doubled Brock over and knocked him down (Brock actually said after the fight he thinks that the kick broke his ribs). Overeem then swarmed a fallen Lesnar against the cage with punches, and with Lesnar doing nothing more than just covering up, ref Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight.
What was surprising about the whole fight however was that Brock only tried for a takedown once in the entire fight, and it was a half-hearted single leg takedown attempt at that. Brock’s game is power wrestling and he didn’t even try to impose it at all. He was content jabbing away at Overeem, and I’m sure even he knew that was not going to work.
Maybe the battle with diverticulitis since 2009 has taken a bigger toll than meets the eye. Maybe it’s age. But Brock might have realized during his training camp that the world class power wrestling which brought him to the dance wasn’t at that elite level anymore and he lost confidence in it. Perhaps the freaky power and speed combo that was the trademark of his takedowns were no longer there during his preparations and he lost all desire in even trying.
As a result, Brock ended up fighthing Overeem’s fight; if he lost confidence in his shots, maybe he should have tried to close the range between them with some clinch work against the cage. That’s the most basic strategy to try against a striker who is far more superior than yourself. But he didn’t even attempt doing that.
But the end game from all this is that Brock is now retired as a fighter. It makes sense for him on a lot of levels. If the diverticulitis really did mess him up that much, why still put your body through the rigors of MMA training and fighting? And after two devastating first round TKO losses in a row, his days of a blockbuster 1 million+ PPV draw were probably over. The mystique of the beast is gone. And that mystique which made people watch Brock is the difference in him making the $3 million+ he probably ended up earning last night when all is said and done, to the mid to high six figures he would probably have pocketed at his next fight.
But I will miss Brock in the UFC. He knew how to sell fights, mainly from his time with the WWE. After all, he is the only non-boxer in the 1 million + PPV buy list. The rumors are already flying that he’ll be back in pro-wrestling for Vince McMahon sooner rather than later, but we’ll see.
It’s going to be an interesting time for the UFC next year too. Their two biggest draws – Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre – probably won’t be fighting at all next year, one due to retirement and the other due to a torn ACL. Overeem made himself a star in North America with this performance, and his title match with Junior Dos Santos (who had the huge exposure of being on the UFC on Fox network debut) should draw big numbers. It just won’t be Brock numbers.