In Part II, I discussed how Alistair Overeem defeated himself against Antonio Silva. “The Reem” used a similar strategy to beat Brock Lesnar – a strategy and style he hasn’t used throughout his career. Though this strategy was effective for a bulk of the match, it wasn’t particularly efficient.
Effectiveness and Efficiency:
Every fighter in the UFC has some effective techniques in their arsenal. They’d be able to pull these off with more consistency, and because of their opponent’s skill sets, they’d be forced to use other techniques to defend and counter.
But the game isn’t just about being effective. Rather, the name of the game is being able to produce the maximum result with minimum amount of effort. Theoretically, if two techniques can hurt (or stop) the opponent — one technique requires 70% effort and energy to perform and the other requires 50% — the latter should always chosen.
Now this may seem like common sense, but in the heat of the moment, this “common sense” can and often will go out the window.
Fighters endure months of gruelling preparation. When they’ve hurt their opponent with spectacular violence, they hear the fans going ecstatic. Victory is so close that they can almost taste it. Excited and rightfully so, it’s as if all the adversity they’ve ever experienced was worth it. Flashbacks to similar moments rush into the mind, and with it comes the endorphins. Glory, months of celebration and congratulation is about to follow. A boulder’s about be freed from their back, and with it the sense of freedom.
It’s why even the most experienced fighters can lose their composure and get too excited. This excitement can drain their efficiency and intellect; with efficiency out the window, their energy level goes out along with it. A fighter low on energy is a fighter low in effectiveness: their timing, reflex, and technique is just not the same anymore.
Despite seeing Alistair Overeem return to his usual form, stance, distance, and strategy… this is exactly what happened against Travis Browne.
Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne
The amount of heart it takes to endure such skillful violence should not be neglected, and the skill Browne does have shouldn’t be either. While this is true, I’m going to maintain that Overeem beat himself again.
- Pace: 10 seconds into the fight, Overeem shift-punches (stepping forward with the rear-foot) Browne to the cage, knee him as soon as he gets there. From there, he puts on a tremendous pace for any weight class, smothering the 6’7” giant. Browne disengages for a few seconds, and within moments he’s rushed to the cage again. From there, they scrap for a bit but Overeem resumes control at the cage — this allowed Overeem to drop Browne. What follows is sustained full-throttled assault; this is rare, especially in the heavyweight division.
- Punches to the Guard: Here you see the onslaught put on by Overeem. This is a ridiculous pace for anyone. Overeem smelt blood and he wanted to finish, but in his excitement he made a critical mistake: he was attacking just to attack. With knees like his, there’s no reason for him to be attacking a hurt opponent on the ground with punches to a guarded face. That’s a lot of energy exhausted, and not particularly effective at that. If Overeem selected his shots and paced himself, he’d probably be in title contention rather than a bout against Frank Mir (3 fight losing streak).
- Posture and Stance: This one was already explained at length by Jack Slack — read it here. Basically, Overeem’s stance is with his head forward, and although it has its utility, one of its fundamental flaws is that it’s exposed to upward strikes such as front kicks. Despite a guard attempt, the front kick seeps through.
- Energy and Output: In the first half of the round, Overeem landed 23 kicks and knees in total. He attempted a takedown but couldn’t keep Browne there. By this point, he was huffing and puffing, and Browne was starting to exploit Overeem’s posture. After backing up from a few strikes, Overeem continues the one mode he knows best:march forward. Eventually, he marched into his doom.
Difference of Output:
The Sad Reality
Overeem has the tools to be the king of UFC. He has the tools to be known as the greatest fighter of all time — one that successfully crossed over in kickboxing and MMA — a fighter that could’ve achieved the pinnacle in both arenas.
If Overeem paced himself and selected his shots more intelligently, we could’ve been looking at a dream matchup between him and the current king. For now, it is just that — a dream matchup: the if that never materialized.
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