This Saturday 16th of May the UFC brings us the last of it’s three events in one week in Jacksonville Florida that see’s Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris clashing in the main event.
This heavyweight showdown is an interesting fight, it was originally slated for April’s fight night 172 but was canceled for obvious reasons. Now on the face of it, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a classic case of the old guard (Overeem) making way for the new in Walt Harris.
In terms of fight miles the above may be true, Overeem has been fighting for a very long time, if you include kickboxing he has had 78 fights by my count. That doesn’t include all the sparring and fight camps along the way, yes indeed Overeem has miles on the clock.
With that being said Overeem is still only 39 years old and for a heavyweight that is really not that old. Harris is currently 36 while it seems like Harris is the young up and comer taking on the old veteran in Overeem there is actually only 3 years between them.
Alistair Overeem is a bonafide legend of the sport, the only title that has eluded him is the UFC heavyweight title. He once held the Strikeforce, Dream, and K1 heavyweight titles at the same time. He is a master in kickboxing and while he may not be quite the same destructive force he was in the 2000’s he is still very dangerous as many have found out.
In today’s UFC it feels like a lot of people have written Overeem off, however, his record is good, deceptively good. He has only lost to 4 people in his last 12 fights, those being Stipe Miocic (Champion), Francis Ngannou (title challenger), Curtis Blaydes (top 10), and Jarzinho Rozenstruik (top 10). There is really no shame in any of those losses.
Then look at who he has taken out, a knockout of former champion Junior Dos Santos, he knocked out Mark Hunt and if you know anything about Mark Hunt you know how hard he is to knock out. He TKO’d Alexei Oleinik in a fight where he showed just how clever and patient he can be.
What I am saying is that Overeem is far from done and when he fights well he is more than capable of beating the best in the heavyweight division. With his credentials, he is only ever 2 wins away from a title shot and that is all the motivation that he needs.
Standing across from Overeem on Saturday night will be Walt ‘the big-ticket’ Harris. Now a lot of people are aware of Harris due to the tragedy that occurred with his stepdaughter, and it is just a tragedy that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
The whole fight is being sold on this whole redemption angle that somehow Walt Harris is going to make everything ok by beating Overeem. I do not think that it is the best way to promote this fight, Harris is going back to work after suffering a tragedy, to make the fight in any way about said tragedy puts unfair pressure on him and actually puts Overeem in a tough spot.
It almost makes Overeem into the bad guy in this fight when he has done nothing to warrant this. Now Walt Harris is not the one doing this it is the media, and people on social media, but when I see things like ‘I hope he wins this fight for his stepdaughter’ I scratch my head a little.
Walt Harris went through a family tragedy, now he is coming back to work. Do not make the fight about his tragedy because if you are saying you want him to win because of his stepdaughter then what if he loses? This is the fight game, and losing is a very real possibility.
For me, I don’t really see why the bookmakers have made Walt Harris such a heavy favourite in this fight. First I was aware of Harris was when he stepped in at short notice to fight Fabricio Werdum, and he got submitted in round 1, no shame in that at short notice against arguably the best heavyweight in the world.
However look at who he has fought since then, he is coming off 2 impressive first-round knockouts, against Spivak and Oleinik respectively. However, Olienik aside for me Harris has not faced the calibre of opponent to justify walking in as the favourite against Alistair Overeem.
Overeem is a veteran, not just a veteran but a smart one, he has adjusted his style in recent years to mitigate damage and that is what has garnered him continued success in the heavyweight division. In his last loss I still thought Overeem looked great, he got caught with 15 seconds to go, up to that point he won every round.
Now Walt Harris is an athletic guy, he has big power and speed but I do not think he has the same guile and experience in striking necessary to take out Overeem. Obviously these are heavyweights and anything can and often does happen and a Harris KO wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise.
However Overeem is better than people seem to be giving him credit for, and I just haven’t seen Harris do anything at this point to suggest to me that he will beat the crafty veteran. With the odds on an Overeem KO/TKO sitting at +3.50 that is where my money is going.
With that being said it is nice to see both of these guys back in the octagon and I think whichever way it goes the fans are in for a treat. This is a great way to end a brilliant week of fights and credit to everyone involved in making them happen.