Let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to UFC 141 in December 2011. The card was headlined by the debut of former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Dream heavyweight champion and K-1 World Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem against former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Overeem decimated the former pro-wrestling star and was victorious in just under three minutes. It was a shocking result to some, but to many it was exactly what was supposed to happen. It looked as though “The Demolition Man” was just getting started.
Fast forward to May 2012 at UFC 146, which was to be headlined by newly crowned heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, fresh off his historic first-round knockout of Cain Velasquez, and the aforementioned Overeem. It was a fight that many fans had been waiting years to see. However, it was a fight that was not meant to be. Overeem ended up testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone just a little over a month prior to his title shot and was replaced by another former UFC heavyweight champion, Frank Mir. JDS would go on to retain his title against Mir, but would relinquish in it a rematch with Velasquez later in the year.
Overeem finally re-entered the Octagon opposite Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in February 2013 at UFC 156. After dominating the first two rounds, Overeem became extremely overconfident and was stopped via knockout in the third stanza. It was a hard fall for “The Demolition Man.” He would get another chance to prove himself at UFC 160 when he was rebooked opposite dos Santos in May 2013. The hits just kept coming for Overeem, though, as he was forced to pull out of the bout citing injury. He was replaced by former K-1 champion Mark Hunt.
The road has been tumultuous for Overeem, but things are starting to look up. After starting his UFC run at 2-3, Overeem has put together a two-fight winning streak with a first-round TKO over Stefan Struve in December and a decision victory over Roy Nelson at UFC 185.
Things are also looking up for dos Santos. The former champion lost his belt to Velasquez. After defeating Mark Hunt at UFC 160, he was brutally battered for five rounds by Velasquez in a failed bid to regain the title. Dos Santos followed up with a decision victory over Stipe Miocic in December.
Now, it’s time for these two to finally meet.
Take a look at the makeup of the heavyweight division rankings from Nos. 1-10. Velasquez, the champion, is set to take on No. 1 contender Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188 in June. Travis Browne is set to take on Andre Arlovski at UFC 187 next weekend. Miocic just defeated Hunt this past weekend. Ben Rothwell is tied up to face Matt Mitrione at UFC Fight Night 68 and Mir, who has suffered losses to Overeem and dos Santos, will take on Todd Duffee in July. That leaves three men in the top 10 without a fight: Josh Barnett, Overeem and dos Santos. The fight that needs to happen is JDS vs. Overeem. But is it too late?
The two men are completely different fighters than they were prior to their previously scheduled meetings. Dos Santos has suffered his only two UFC defeats to the same man (Velasquez), and Overeem is no longer the unbeatable monster. Both men want a shot at the UFC title. While it would be a hard sell to book Velasquez vs. dos Santos IV, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. But JDS’s dreams of a fourth meeting could be derailed by the resurgence of the Dutchman himself, Alistair “The Reem” Overeem.
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