The career of the Demolition Man has always seemed to be full of limitless potential, but would always fall just a bit short. Not always because of his performance inside the cage/ring. Should he have decided to defend the Strikeforce Heavyweight championship more than once in his nearly four-year reign, the biggest heavyweight fight in the sport’s history could have happened. Now, we’ll probably never see Overeem vs. Emelianenko. However, his destruction of Brock Lesnar last Friday opens the door for the biggest year in the Dutchman’s career.
|Is this the next UFC Heavyweight Champion?|
First a quick look at the numbers. Overeem is undefeated in his last 12 fights (11-0, 1 NC) and hasn’t lost since Sergei Kharitanov knocked him cold back in September 2007. He’s fixed a few holes in his striking game since then. Despite his reputation as a serious striker, he’s been damn hard to take off his feet with a 75% takedown defense rate in his last 35 fights.
Second, a quick word about his win on Friday. I don’t think the fact that he outstruck Brock Lesnar surprised anyone. I think the bigger surprise was that Brock didn’t try to use his clear advantage and attempt to take down Overeem. His desire to prove that he’d improved his stand-up game may have been what cost him the fight and his career, but who knows about that part. Regardless, he hit the notoriously hard-headed Lesnar so hard it made his reconsider his career choice. Don’t think many saw that part coming.
Finally, after just one fight in the promotion, Overeem secured himself a title shot against new heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos. I won’t even start to breakdown the fight here, since we probably won’t see it until this summer. But what I will say is that it looks to be one of the best striking showdowns in the UFC at 265. Which leads me back to the original question, is 2012 the Year of the Reem? Well, he’s proven a bunch of critics wrong and that he can hang in the UFC. He looked amazing doing so, and is set up for one of the biggest battles of all time at heavyweight. Yeah, win or lose, this looks like it’s going to be Overeem’s year. They question is, will anyone be able to stop him? JDS, you’re up first. Good luck.