UFC 141 is finally here! Tonight on Pay-Per-View, MMA fans finally get to watch (or if you’re too cheap to order the PPV you can follow the live blog we’re doing for FoxSports.com right here on R&R later this evening) two of the best heavyweights on the planet duke it out in this long-awaited clash between Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar. By some experts’ accounts this fight is a virtual pick ‘em, although the odds makers favor Overeem by a slight margin. Overeem is hovering around -150 at most books, while Lesnar is holding as a subtle dog in the +120 ballpark.
So how will this fight pan out stylistically? Overeem has a clear advantage in the up position given his superior striking skills. Lesnar will want to shoot in for takedowns over and over in order to keep the fight on the ground. Nobody envisions this fight going the distance, so whoever is able to execute their game plan quickly and efficiently will probably win via stoppage.
Overeem has 47 fights on his resume and is undefeated in his last 11, mostly against top level competition. Lesnar, owner of a 5-2 career record, has far less MMA experience. While Overeem has suffered 11 defeats in his career, nearly all of his losses were against elite fighters in their prime.
Plus, Overeem fits the bill of a late bloomer… a guy who took his lumps when he was young but really matured as a fighter and came into his own in his late 20′s. Now 31, the Demolition Man is more dangerous than ever and hungry to challenge Junior dos Santos, the top dog in the heavyweight division.
But first Overeem must get past Lesnar, who is far from a slouch himself. Lesnar had his career derailed by diverticulitis, a life-threatening digestive illness that almost ended his MMA career. He is a skilled wrestler and has one of the best ground-and-pound attacks in the business. He will have to keep the fight on the ground to be able to showcase these strengths.
My official prediction is Alistair Overeem by early KO/TKO. Any athlete in any sport would have a hard time competing at the highest level after coming off a life-threatening illness, and Lesnar is no different. Overeem is in the best form of his career, and there are just too many question marks surrounding Brock’s health. Moreover, Lesnar is coming off his first career KO loss, so perhaps in the back of his mind he may have some doubts about his own punch resistance. Lesnar also got unexpectedly dominated in the first round by Shane Carwin before ultimately (and luckily) winning by submission in the second round.
I foresee Brock incessantly trying to shoot in for single and double-leg takedowns from the opening bell, but I don’t think he’ll have that much success because Overeem showed good takedown defense in his most recent fight against Fabricio Werdum. During one of Lesnar’s many takedown attempts, I think Overeem will catch Lesnar with a short, compact power shot right on the button and end the fight.
Brock Lesnar is a very game fighter, but recent developments in his career and overall health have been trending downward. Contrastingly, Overeem has seen nothing but continued success for the last 3-4 years of his career. There is solid value in taking Overeem as a slight favorite because I feel like the true odds on Overeem should be about -200 or higher. Because Lesnar is a “public darling,” meaning that the average know-nothing gambler loves to bet on him, his odds to win aren’t quite as high as they should be.
For all you degenerates out there, here are some wagers I recommend taking a look at tonight:
Overeem To Win -150
Overeem To Win Inside Distance -120
Under 1.5 Rounds -190
Overeem To Win In 1st Round +125
Enjoy the fight and remember to join us tonight for our live blog coverage of UFC 141.