Here’s a closer look at the televised main card:
Brock Lesnar (5-2) vs. Alistair Overeem (35-11)
Two of the most physically imposing specimens in UFC history will battle in a colossal clash of styles as the decorated collegiate wrestler Lesnar looks to spoil the promotional debut of Overeem, a Dutch kickboxing sensation and the last reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
Lesnar, 34, is returning from an extended layoff after being sidelined with a second bout of the intestinal disorder diverticulitis. Lesnar has since undergone surgery as he had a 12-inch piece of his colon removed. Since returning to the gym, the former professional wrestler claims to be in the best shape of his UFC tenure.
With only seven professional fights under his belt, Lesnar is still relatively new to the sport. However, Lesnar has already tasted greatness as he claimed the UFC heavyweight championship from Randy Couture in November 2008. He knocked off Frank Mir and Shane Carwin in his subsequent octagon appearances before losing his belt to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 in October 2010.
More than 12 months have passed since Lesnar last saw action, but the extra time spent refining his skills in the gym alongside the likes of Marty Morgan, Erik Paulson, Pat Barry and Tim Hague could prove valuable as he readies to take on arguably the best striker in the entire sport.
Overeem, 31, is coming off a lackluster decision win over Fabricio Werdum under the Strikeforce banner this past June. The fierce Dutchman barely eked out a win after an exceptionally cautious performance in which he was hesitant to let his strikes go or engage the Brazilian in any action on the mat.
In terms of experience, Overeem has a significant edge over Lesnar with 47 professional fights and 14 kickboxing bouts to his credit. Overeem is unbeaten since a September 2007 loss to Sergei Kharitonov in Pride, but the majority of his victories have come against questionable opposition such as Paul Buentello, Gary Goodridge, James Thompson, Brett Rogers and Todd Duffee.
For the majority of his early career, Overeem competed as a light heavyweight. He amassed notable wins over Vitor Belfort and Igor Vovchanchyn, while dropping fights to Chuck Liddell, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Mauricio Rua, Ricardo Arona and Werdum.
Since moving up to heavyweight, Overeem has bulked up immensely, which has also led to widespread accusations of steroid use. Overeem has yet to test positive, but there is no denying his transformation from a lanky fighter during the Pride days to the gargantuan behemoth we see today. There has also been some minor controversy with his drug testing in the weeks leading up to this bout as he allegedly submitted a test several weeks late and also requested a urine sample be returned from his doctor, which was ultimately denied.
Based on the data and trends going into the match tonight. I believe this fight is too close to call as to who is the favored in the
Ring rust and inexperience could impact Lesnar’s performance, but he should still be favored based on his vastly superior wrestling background. With Lesnar’s sights set on redemption against Velasquez and another run as UFC champion and the winner of this fight already guaranteed a crack at heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, Overeem could be in for a rude awakening.
Lesnar will look to bull-rush Overeem from the opening bell, wrapping his arms around the K-1 king and planting him on his back. From there, Lesnar should unload with his trademark lunchbox-sized fists en route to a resounding first-round knockout victory.