Alistair Overeem has been through losing streaks before. In 2006-07, he dropped consecutive fights to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ricardo Arona and Mauricio Rua while competing in Pride. He was able to come back from those setbacks to eventually win heavyweight titles in both the Dream and Strikeforce promotions.
Right now in the UFC, he has floundered a couple of times in a row. The difference this time through is, these were thud variety losses -- the kind that crash through the floorboards with the weight of so many great expectations.
The first was colossal letdown against Antonio Silva with a heavyweight title shot hanging in the balance. That one was chalked up to a case of over-swagger. The second, a front kick knockout at the hands of Travis Browne last month in Boston, made losing his new norm.
As a high-priced fighter under tremendous scrutiny -- as much for what he does in the cage as out -- a pair of consecutive losses like that puts his back up against the chain links.
Now Overeem finds himself docketed in one of those uneasy do-or-die match-ups against Frank Mir, who is himself coming off a loss to Josh Barnett. Though Mir’s latest defeat carries an ounce of controversy for being an what he considered an early stoppage, the reality doesn’t change. Mir has dropped three fights in a row, and a loss to Overeem likely either comes with a pink slip...or a little nudge towards retirement.
So, what about the 33-year old Overeem, who’s been through 50 professional fights and has a lot of miles on him? What happens if he’s the one on the losing end when he and Mir square off at UFC 167 in November?
"I’m telling you this, if I lose to Frank Mir I’d better start doing something else," Overeem said during an appearance The MMA Hour. "If I lose to him and that’s three in a row, then I’d better start doing something else, right?"
Asked if he’d retire at that point, Overeem wouldn’t go as far as that.
"Well, I’d still like to fight a couple of years -- that being said, I’m not going to retire. Primarily, I just need to beat this guy."
In other words, he has no intention of retiring because he has no intention of losing. And given the fact that before his recent skid he had peeled off a 12-fight unbeaten streak, which included the ceremonial manhandling of Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, this talk could be a little premature anyway.
Mir, it could be argued, is the one in greater dire straits. As such, Overeem says he sees a dangerous yet dwindling former champion that won’t allow for complacency. Not after what he’s been through of late, anyway.
"The thing with all athletes and all fighters, it seems that he is a little bit on the down slope of his career with three consecutive losses," Overeem said. "But, you should never underestimate an opponent. That’s something I’ve learned by now."