Overpraised or Underrated: An Examination of Alistair Overeem's Recent Fight History

Headed into Friday night's UFC 141 main event, the question of just how good Alistair Overeem is remains one of MMA's heated topics. His supporters point out that he's won titles in Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1. His detractors suggest he's done most of that while facing non-elite competition.

In some ways, both sides have valid points. Perhaps his performance against Brock Lesnar will provide answers about his place among the heavyweight elite, but until then, it's worth a look at his recent history.

Overeem shifted divisions to heavyweight for good in 2007, and since then has lost only once. On the strength of an 11-fight unbeaten stretch, most heavyweight rankings have him listed between Nos. 2-4. What's obvious about that stretch is that he's been fairly dominant. Seven of his last 10 fights have lasted less than two minutes. But less obvious is that he has seemed to benefit from great timing. His bout with Lesnar will mark the seventh time his last 11 fights he'll be facing an opponent coming off a loss, an unusually high number for someone competing at a championship level.

In Lesnar's case, he's not just looking to rebound from a defeat, but from an illness and surgery that cost him more than a year of his athletic career.



It's not the first time Overeem has faced down an opponent walking in with little momentum. In fact, of his last 11 opponents including Lesnar, the only one who could boast of any real momentum heading into their bout was Fabricio Werdum, who had won four of his last five and had just become the first man to defeat Fedor Emelianenko in nearly a decade. That victory propelled Werdum to the No. 3 spot on the FightMatrix.com rankings at the time, the highest ranking opponent Overeem has faced during his current stretch until Lesnar.

During his last 10 fights, Overeem has faced three fighters who were ranked in the top 10 at the time, as ranked by FightMatrix's computer formula. Aside from beating Werdum in a somewhat lackluster decision, he steamrolled No. 8 Brett Rogers in May 2010 and fought to a no contest with No. 8 Mirko Filipovic in September 2008.

The rest of the 10 bouts were mostly a mix of mediocrity, veterans on the way out, and unestablished prospects. Five of the 10 fighters Overeem's faced during his streak are no longer active in MMA. Three opponents -- James Thompson, Gary Goodridge and Lee Tae-Hyun -- did not even crack the top 150 at the time they fought Overeem. Thompson walked into his bout with four straight losses, Goodridge -- then 42 years old -- had lost three in a row, and Tae-Hyun, who was only in his third pro fight, lost in 36 seconds and never fought again.

Tony Sylvester was ranked No. 131 when Overeem fought him. Not surprisingly, he lasted all of 83 seconds. Kaz Fujita was 39 years old and No. 102. Overeem finished him off even quicker, in 75 seconds.

Mark Hunt was a fairly credible opponent. He came in 5-3 but was unranked because he hadn't fought MMA in over 18 months. Still, he tapped to a keylock in 71 seconds.

Lesnar currently sits at No. 3 on the FightMatrix rankings, one spot ahead of Overeem (by comparison, MMA Fighting rankings have the two flip-flopped). Whichever you accept, it still marks his second straight time battling a top five foe. At the time of publication, Overeem was considered a slight favorite in the matchup.

Even with a win over Lesnar, Overeem likely won't silence all the questions observers have raised about him. His recent record is too dotted with non-elite opponents, and some will wonder if Lesnar truly competed at full strength. Despite the skeptics who dismiss his resume because of that, there is no question Overeem has dominated the opposition he's faced and has shown elite ability in several dimensions.

With most of MMA's top heavyweights under the UFC banner -- or soon to be there, given the recent Strikeforce announcement that they're discontinuing the division and sending their talent to the octagon -- Overeem has a chance to erase every last criticism of his in-cage ability.

Here's a closer look at his last 10 bouts and the competition he's faced to vault up the rankings.

Opponent: Fabricio Werdum
Previous five fights: 4-1
Prior fight: Win
Notable: First bout since beating Fedor Emelianenko
FightMatrix.com ranking at time of fight: No. 3
Overeem's ranking at time of fight: No. 8
Age at time of fight: 33
Result: Decision win
Current career record: 14-5-1

Opponent: Todd Duffee
Previous five: 4-1
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: Accepted fight on 2 week's notice
FightMatrix ranking: No. 58
Overeem's ranking: No. 8
Age: 25
Result: 19-second KO
Current career record: 6-2

Opponent: Brett Rogers
Previous five: 4-1
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: First fight since being KO'd by Fedor
FightMatrix ranking: No. 8
Overeem's ranking: No. 12
Age: 29
Result: TKO, 3:40 of Rd. 1
Current career record: 11-4

Opponent: Kaz Fujita
Previous five: 2-3
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: Two straight defeats
FightMatrix ranking: No. 102
Overeem's ranking: No. 12
Age: 39
Result: 75-second KO
Current career record: 15-9 (retired)

Opponent: James Thompson
Previous five: 1-4
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: Four straight losses
FightMatrix ranking: Unranked
Overeem's ranking: No. 13
Age: 31
Result: 33-second submission
Current career record: 16-14, 1 no contest

Opponent: Tony Sylvester
Previous five: 4-1
Prior fight: Win
Notable: Sylvester's only career fight vs. a top 20 opponent
FightMatrix ranking: No. 131
Overeem's ranking: No. 13
Age: 31
Result: 83-second submission
Current career record: 11-3 (retired)

Opponent: Gary Goodridge
Previous five: 2-3
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: Three straight losses
FightMatrix ranking: Unranked
Overeem's ranking: No. 12
Age: 42
Result: Submission, 1:42 of Rd. 1
Current career record: 23-22-1 (retired)

Opponent: Mirko Cro Cop
Previous five: 3-2
Prior fight: Win
Notable: Cro Cop had lost two of his last three prior
FightMatrix ranking: No. 8
Overeem's ranking: No. 11
Age: 34
Result: No contest
Current career record: 27-10-2, 1 no contest (retired)

Opponent: Mark Hunt
Previous five: 3-2
Prior fight: Loss
Notable: Overeem took the fight on short notice
FightMatrix ranking: Unranked
Overeem's ranking: No. 13
Age: 34
Result: 71-second submission
Current career record: 7-7

Opponent: Lee Tae-Hyun
Previous five: N/A (third pro fight)
Prior fight: Win
Notable: Only 1-1 before Overeem fight
FightMatrix ranking: Unranked
Overeem's ranking: No. 13
Age: 33
Result: 36-second KO
Current career record: 1-2 (retired)

TOTALS
Opponents in previous five: 28-19 (.596 win percentage)
Average age: 33.1
Combined career record: 131-78-4 (.630 win percentage)
Top 10 opponents Overeem faced: 3
Unranked opponents Overeem faced: 4
Average Time of Fight: 3:03
Overeem's record: 9-0, 1 NC

More from MMA Fighting

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5349_tracker