Alistair Overeem still has plenty of fight left in him.
The 65-fight veteran, who celebrated his 40th birthday just past midnight, had to survive an early scare against Walt Harris before staging a huge comeback with a devastating head kick that spelled the beginning of the end in the UFC on ESPN 8 main event.
The end came at 3:00 in the second round after Overeem put Harris followed up his head kick with a punch that put Harris down and a barrage of shots on the ground finally forced referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the contest.
It was a chaotic few weeks for Overeem, who traveled back and forth between his home in the Netherlands to the United States along with a fight postponement before finally getting the win on Saturday night.
“You just stay focused,” Overeem said afterwards. “Pandemic or no pandemic. It’s been a long ride but somehow I keep finding the focus.
“Let’s look at the rankings. Fight again later this year. Maybe we’re going to see if there’s one more shot at the title.”
Prior to the finish, Overeem had to endure a blistering start for Harris, who came out head hunting with an aggressive series of punches that included a left-right combination that put “The Demolition Man” down on the ground. Harris followed him to the floor looking for the finish as a cut opened over Overeem’s eyebrow as blood began gushing across his face.
Miraculously, Overeem found a way to survive the onslaught to get back to his feet and then reversing a kick from Harris that put the former basketball standout on the canvas. Overeem then spent the remainder of the time in the opening round peppering away at Harris with short, damaging punches.
Harris was labored with his breathing going to the corner after being stuck under Overeem for so much time and he came out with a lot less enthusiasm after the one-minute break between rounds.
That’s when Overeem uncorked a hellacious head kick that careened off Harris’ head and left him on rubber legs. Overeem cracked him with another punch and once Harris hit the mat, he never got up again.
Once Overeem was on top, he just rained down punches until the fight was finally stopped.
As soon as the action was over, Overeem embraced Harris and told him they should train together in the future following a memorable battle in the main event.
It was an emotional night for everyone involved as Harris returned to the cage following the tragic death of his stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard last year. While it certainly wasn’t the result he wanted, Harris thanked everyone who supported him and his family throughout a traumatic time in their lives.
“I’ll be back better, I promise you,” Harris said. “You ain’t seen the last of ‘The Big Ticket.’ I’m going to go home, recover, I’m going to heal emotionally and physically and I promise you I’ll be better.”