If Alistair Overeem hadn’t heard any “overrated” chants before UFC Fight Night 26, he will now. After dominating most of last Saturday’s co-main event, he was knocked out by a Travis Browne front kick 4:08 into the first round.
Browne connected early with a flying knee but was quickly on the defensive. Overeem gained the dominant position and showered his opponent with shots to the head as he turtled up against the cage. Mario Yamasaki could have stopped the fight at any point, especially after Overeem’s obviously illegal knee to the face, but he didn’t, and Browne found new life.
With less than a minute left in the round, Brown took advantage of Overeem’s reckless advance by delivering three straight kicks to the head; the last one hitting his chin and ending the fight.
In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Browne talks about the moment he knew Overeem was done. “Alistair was out cold. He was done. When I hit him with that second (kick) I was even debating just standing up and walking away. His arms went limp and he went limp and he was looking everywhere but me.”
Despite his 14-1-1 MMA record, Browne was the underdog heading into the match. A lot of credit has to be given to his resilience and ability to take one on the chin. At the 3:30 mark, he appears to take an illegal knee to the face that goes unnoticed by Yamasaki. Another victory over a top heavyweight won’t place him in a title bout with Cain Velasquez, but it will put his name in the conversation.
If Overeem losing to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in February was due to a lack of respect, last Saturday’s loss was a result of poor conditioning. And much like he undervalued Silva’s skills, he underestimated Browne’s ability to stay in the fight. Overeem was relentless when he had Brown against the cage but failed to finish the fight. He appeared winded long before the first round ended and it may be because he did not expect Browne to last as long as he did. Since 2008, only two of Overeem’s fights have gone past the first round.
Whether or not you believe his reported PED use is a factor, Overeem’s MMA success has not translated to the UFC. With names like Junior Dos Santos and Daniel Cormier waiting for their shot at the heavyweight title, Overeem is the odd man out. His victory over Brock Lesnar two years ago is just a memory and won’t mean much when Dana White decides to cut ties. His days in the UFC could be numbered.