Boxing is screwed when it comes to promotable big boys to fight in the U.S. That's certainly not the case in mixed martial arts. The UFC has developed Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin. All four were brought on board after 2007. Dana White also showed interest recently in Alistair Overeem when he attended UFC 93 in Ireland. After watching Strikeforce this weekend as Overeem mauled Brett Rogers, White had it nailed.
Once considered a middle-of-the-road light heavyweight, Overeem (33-11) has stopped cutting weight, added mass to his 6-foot-5 frame and retained most of his athleticism. How is that possible? Anyone want to draw the comparision to boxing's pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao? On the surface, it might seem like a crazy parallel since Pacman only goes 5-5, 143 pounds. But he's clearly a guy who's benefitted from the fact that he doesn't have to starve himself to get to a lower weight.
This video is an excellent chronicle of Overeem's lead-up to his Strikeforce title defense. Martijn De Jong, his trainer, says the big Dutchman is a better fighter than ever.
"As a heavyweight, Alistair is stronger, maybe not as fast as he was as a (light heavyweight), but his endurance is better. (As a light heavyweight) he couldn't do any weight training, any strength and conditioning training. Now he can do that all so his overall conditioning is better."
Overeem didn't look like he had any endurance issues during the time he rained down 40-plus shots on the helpless Rogers. De Jong should also bring a smile to the face of most MMA fans when they hear him say Overeem wants to keep fighting in the U.S.
"MMA in America is the place to be right now. The planet's going down, America's going up," said De Jong. "The fans are excited. It's a very exciting place so we look to be here for a long time."
More good news, with 44 fights under his belt, Overeem turned just 30 years old on Monday.
In part one of this series, there's some excellent footage from Overeem's first experience with Strikeforce in 2007. He makes a solid case in explaining why he waited so long to return to Strikeforce, saying there was no one to fight. Can you name all the guys he ducked? Until the middle of 2009 in Strikeforce, who was there?
- Junior Dos Santos