MMA Ratings Podcast

April 23, 2019

UFC on ESPN+ 7: Alistair Overeem Is Still A Heavyweight Title Contender

By Adam Martin

It wasn't long ago that Alistair Overeem was being written off as a has-been, as a washed-up fighter who no longer had what it takes to compete at the highest level of the sport. Based on his last couple of performances, however, that conclusion was premature, because Overeem appears to have plenty left in the tank at age 38. "Ubereem" is back.

When the hulking Dutchman was brutally knocked out by Francis Ngannou in the 2017 "KO of the Year" back at UFC 218, many figured that fight would be a passing of the torch. They thought it showed the decline of Overeem, and when he followed that up with a lopsided TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes at UFC 225 in June 2018, it really did seem like Overeem was on the downside of his career.

The UFC matchmakers likely thought the same thing, booking the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion against Octagon newcomer Sergei Pavlovich at UFC Fight Night 141 in a bout that seemed designed to showcase Pavlovich. Despite Pavlovich having far less experience than Overeem and making his UFC debut, the betting odds favored the Russian newcomer, with Overeem a surprising underdog. But he proved the oddsmakers and the betting public wrong when he brutally finished Pavlovich in just one round.

Next, the UFC decided to match Overeem with Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 7, and once again he was the underdog. That made sense, considering Volkov's youth advantage and all the success he's had in the UFC. But the former Bellator heavyweight champion was pulled from the card (with rumours floating out there are that it had something to do with USADA), and instead Overeem was matched against another longtime veteran of the sport in Aleksei Oleinik.

This wasn't an easy fight for Overeem, but once again he found a way to get his hand raised. After getting rocked early and getting teed off on against the cage, Overeem was able to overcome the early struggle and take Oleinik to the floor, blasting him with ground-and-pound en route to a beautiful first-round TKO win. It gives Overeem back-to-back dominant wins, and reaffirms his status as one of the top 10 heavyweights on the UFC roster.

Overeem says he wants to get back in the cage quickly, and it will be interesting to see who the promotion matches him up with, but clearly he needs to fight a top-10 opponent. If Volkov can figure out his issues with USADA, that fight still makes sense, and so does a matchup against Derrick Lewis, Stipe Miocic, or Cain Velasquez. Overeem is in a good spot right now, to say the least.

It's always nice to see veterans who were written off prove the doubters wrong and that's exactly what Alistair Overeem is doing. After losing two straight fights in devastating fashion and having his career called into question, "Ubereem" has strung together two wins and is once again looking like a title contender in the UFC's heaviest weight class. We'll see what the matchmakers have in store for him next, but whichever way it goes, he's put himself in a tremendous position to get a big-name opponent next.

UFC on ESPN+ 7
Alistair Overeem vs. Aleksei Oleinik: Alistair Overeem def. Aleksei Oleinik via TKO (strikes) at 4:45 of Round 1.

UFC on ESPN+ 7: Overeem vs. Oleinik (formerly UFC on ESPN+ 7: Volkov vs. Overeem) took place April 20, 2019 at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 7 Post-Fight Analysis

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