Though entering into the fight as the underdog and debutant to the UFC, Alastair Overeem used his superior kick boxing skills to take down one of the biggest names in MMA: Brock Lesnar.
UFC 141 may well have signalled the final competitive appearance of one of MMA’s biggest names, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. His short but impressive career seems to have ended at the hands and feet of English-born kick-boxer Alastair Overeem, with referee Mario Yamasaki stopping the fight halfway through the first round. MMA retirements usually last about as long as those in the boxing world, but Lesnar has missed much of the last two years with several serious and well-publicised bouts of diverticulitis; the stubborn illness subsequently leading to surgeons removing a 12-inch section of Brock’s colon to finally get him back to full fitness. This was his first fight since surrendering the Heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez over 14 months ago, whereas Overeem was making his UFC debut after recently signing for the company.
It was as exciting and short-lived as most all of the heavyweight contests are these days. Much of the talk pre-fight was that Overeem’s striking game – honed in K1 kick-boxing – would be too much for Brock to handle, and so it proved. Lesnar’s best chance of victory always lay in successfully utilising his wrestling ability and enormous physique to take his opponent down and control the fight on the mat. But Lesnar only managed one half-hearted single-leg takedown attempt before Overeem turned it on, landing a series of knees to the body that left his opponent reeling up against the cage. He followed up yet another of these knees with a crippling left side kick to the liver that all-but-ended the fight, leaving Brock doubled up on the mat in obvious distress. “The Reem” jumped on him and rained down right-hands until the referee pushed him off, signalling the end of Brock’s UFC career and the start of Alastair’s.
Brock has never taken hits well, and it is as much this weakness as his physical ailments that have led to him retiring with a record of five wins and three losses. While it would be madness to suggest that anyone enjoys taking strikes from athletes that hit as hard as Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Overeem himself, if Lesnar had the chin of pound-for-pound great BJ Penn or the astonishing survival instinct of Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar then his record would have made for much better reading. But this shouldn’t detract from the performance of “The Reem”, whose crisp and accurate attack proved far too much for the former WWE star.
Lesnar has missed much of the last two years with several serious and well-publicised bouts of diverticulitis; the stubborn illness subsequently leading to surgeons removing a 12-inch section of Brock’s colon to finally get him back to full fitness.
Probably the most impressive performance of the night came from 24-year old Featherweight Jimy “The Kid” Hetes. Up against the highly-dangerous Nam Phan – a vastly-experienced 28-year old with black belts in both karate and jiu jitsu – he completely dominated the fight; displaying deadly-accurate ground-and-pound, relentless aggression and jiu-jitsu skills far in advance of the purple belt he walked in with. The key to the fight though was Hetes’ judo brown belt, providing him with the ability to take Phan down at will and neutralise his superior boxing skills. Hetes not only upset the odds to win the fight but did so with consummate ease and irrepressible confidence, taking almost no damage and winning the unanimous decision 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26. Another member of the new generation of young fighters raised on pure MMA -rather than starting off with one discipline and then trying to round out any weaknesses – Jimy Hetes is a well-rounded and entertaining fighter that will be well worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.
Elsewhere, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson dropped Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko with a powerful straight jab in the first and jumped straight on the Russian veteran, leaving referee Yves Lavigne with no choice other than to stop the Light-Heavyweight contest. Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks shocked everyone by breaking Jon Fitch’s rusty cage with a crushing one-punch ko in just 12 seconds; he may now be in line for a shot at the Interim Welterweight title, which will be contested by Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit at UFC 143 on February 4th. And the hugely-anticipated Lightweight matchup between top contenders Nate Diaz and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone won the Fight of the Night bonus as the Diaz “Stockton Slap” style of boxing once again got the job done in hugely-impressive fashion.
But the event will largely be remembered for it being the final UFC appearance of Brock Lesnar, and the first of Alastair Overeem. The former Dream Champion, K1 Champion and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion is now next in line for a shot at Junior dos Santos’ belt, and that contest between the two heaviest hitters in the entire UFC promises to be an absolutely explosive affair.
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