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Lesnar, Overeem and the Twenty20 nature of UFC's heavyweight division

Alistair Overeem will fight Andrei Arlovski in the main event (Image: UFC)
Roar Guru
29th December, 2011
2

Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeem is a big end to the year for the UFC, in all senses of the word.

Apart from the fact there will be around thirteen feet and 530 pounds of power colliding inside the cage come Saturday night, the bout will also sort out who gets to meet Junior Dos Santos in his first title defence in 2012.

With a bout of this stature there comes an endless series of questions thrown out by fans and media alike about it.

Has Lesnar recovered fully from his surgery on his internals? Is Overeem all hype? How will Lesnar deal with getting hit? How is Overeem’s gas tank? Can Overeem keep Lesnar off him? Et cetera, et cetera.

As with all heavyweight fights, pre-fight discussion almost looks laughable by the time the fight is over.

If you want an example of what I mean by that, look no further than the UFC’s debut on FOX. The Dos Santos/Cain Velasquez title fight was picked apart at every angle for around thirty minutes only for a Dos Santos right hand to end the fight just over a minute in.

When fighters are this big, the fight usually hinges upon who lands clean, first.

And if that is true for Dos Santos and Velasquez who are two of the smaller heavyweights in the division, then it is definitely going to be true for Lesnar and
Overeem.

It’s not that heavyweight bouts lack any stylistic intrigue or the complexities of the sport that are inherent in the lighter weight classes.

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It’s more that the Russian Roulette nature of the division means the intrigue and complexities are compacted and condensed similar to that of Twenty20 cricket.

In terms of this bout, the fight will be settled by whether or not Lesnar can take Overeem down. If he does, he wins. If not, he gets knocked out.

It sounds overly simple but it’s a statement that’s pretty much identical to what you’d hear for a bout like Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen.

The difference is that the underlying factors of a middleweight title fight get a chance to play out as they don’t have to deal with the size and power of the heavyweights.

Those questions that I mentioned earlier are at play in this fight, but they have been compacted and marginalised.

Lesnar’s ability to take a punch and the hype of Overeem are relevant points of discussion but will probably be hard to discern when either Overeem knees Lesnar’s head into oblivion or Lesnar slams Overeem to the ground and starts to Donkey Kong his head.

They will still be there and at play for however many seconds this bout happens to go but when the fight does end we will have completely forgotten about them.