May 12, 2016

UFC Fight Night 87: Alistair Overeem Breaks Through At the Perfect Time For the Heavyweight Division

By Raphael Garcia

If life is all about timing, Alistair Overeem must certainly enjoy his current situation. After his crushing defeat of Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 87 in his home country of the Netherlands, the well-traveled heavyweight was in the right place and time to demand a shot at the UFC heavyweight title. And looking at his two potential opponents, who are due to square off at UFC 198, this might be the perfect opportunity for him to enter the title fray.

Overeem’s UFC run started out with a bang, but quickly slowed to a halt. He stopped Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, and then lost three of his next four, which put him on the proverbial chopping block. However, four fights later the multi-promotion champion is on the cusp of obtaining the title shot that has eluded him up to this point.

“I believe the road is open. I believe the next fight will be for the UFC heavyweight title,” Overeem said during the post-fight press conference. “The preparation for that fight will commence this week. I’ll probably take two or three days off. Tuesday I’ll be back in the gym working my butt off for that title.”

Current champion Fabricio Werdum is slated to defend the title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 on Saturday. Barring any unforeseen consequences or rematches, Overeem should be the man to face the winner of that fight. Each potential opponent comes with a storyline that is worth promoting to draw in fans.

On one hand, there’s Werdum, who has a win over Overeem. Even though that fight is more than a decade old, that wouldn’t stop the UFC from tapping into their legacy. Right now, the record is 1-1 between Overeem and Werdum, and putting together the trilogy fight would create one of the few meaningful heavyweight fights available to the UFC at this time.

Miocic, on the other hand, should be considered a “new face” in the division. Winner of two fights in a row, he’s taken a detoured route to a shot at the belt, one which still came in a convoluted fashion after he attempted to step in for the injured Cain Velasquez earlier this year. If Miocic can defeat Werdum in Brazil, the UFC would have an interesting and fresh fight in Miocic-Overeem, one that could be pushed to a mainstream public that is looking for a heavyweight bout with highlight reel potential and cachet.

When Overeem joined the UFC nearly five years ago, he was expected to catapult to the top of the rankings and quickly challenge then-champion Cain Velasquez for the title. That never did happen, but the famed kickboxer seems to have found a second wind that has helped him move one step closer to one of the only titles that have escaped him. At 35 years of age and with four dominating wins in the Octagon behind him, now is the right time for Overeem to leverage his name and performances into a title shot against the winner of the UFC 198 main event.


UFC Fight Night 87: Overeem vs. Arlovski took place on May 8, 2016 at Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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