UFC 141 Review: Alistair Overeem Defeats Brock Lesnar With Ease

From the first strike of the mighty Alistair Overeem, the expression and body language of Brock Lesnar was of a man who knew he had bitten off a great deal more than he could chew.

In the end, it wasn€™t even close. It took all of one knee from the world class Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem, to bring home to former champion Brock Lesnar that he really didn€™t belong in the Octagon with him, in their much vaunted heavyweight title eliminator. In a night in which no fights disappointed, the headliner proved a curious experience of listlessness and awe. The early evening had seem Jim Hettes announce his arrival as a real prospect in the featherweight division, swarming TUF alumnus Nam Phan with a relentless judo assault en route to a comfortable decision victory. From then on it seemed that all bets were off as both crowd and fighters were swept up in the occasion of the UFC€™s end of year party. The next bout saw the young, dynamic light-heavyweight talent Alexander Gustafsson make short work of veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, who walked into a snake like jab before falling under a barrage of punches that ceased the fight in the third. Next, and somewhat inevitably, the battle between John Fitch and Johnny Hendricks- which everyman and his dog had tipped to go to a dreary decision- was ended by a brutal left hand by Hendricks after only 12 seconds; thus ending Fitch€™s reign of tyranny as the welterweight division€™s premier blanket. The co-main event was never going to disappoint and, it seemed, had begun from the moment it was announced, as Nate Diaz spent months engaged in verbal provocations with Donald €œThe Cowboy€ Cerrone. It was plain the psychological warfare had done its job as Cerrone flew across the cage early on and volunteered himself for the sort of brawl Diaz loves- this set the tone, and the cast iron chin and relentlessly accurate boxing combinations for which he and his brother are known largely overwhelmed him. The Cowboy regrouped somewhat later in the fight, even landing several trips and leg kicks which felled his opponent, but in the end, the Cesar Gracie protégé was comfortable in his decision win and had propelled himself into the title picture in the lightweight division. What followed this fight of the night contest had little of the drama inside the octagon- not only was the mismatch too great, but it simply didn€™t last long enough- but still provided the story of the evening outside it. From the first strike of the mighty Alistair Overeem, the expression and body language of Brock Lesnar was of a man who knew he had bitten off a great deal more than he could chew, and when his first takedown attempt was shrugged off by the effortlessly cool Dutchman, his demeanour visibly stiffened. Forced to exchange on the feet, Lesnar was a fish out of water, and after a flurry of knees, and then a liver kick which floored his mighty frame, the former champion was left cowering on the floor, willing the referee to end the fight before the punishment became too severe. After the fight, Lesnar announced to the crowd- one clearly unhappy with the level of competition he had provided- that he had decided to retire from MMA. A demonstrable absence of desire and struggles with ill-health have taken their toll, and brought to an end one of the shortest and most colourful stints of any fighter in the heavyweight division. Signed by Dana Wight, ostensibly- and successfully- to exploit the larger if more puerile fanbase of the WWE, he had drawn huge PPV numbers. But the speed of his ascendency meant that his strengths as well as his weaknesses had been highlighted and adapted to far more quickly than any other fighter that had sat atop their weight class in many years. But in the last 12 months the sport has grown so exponentially that the pro-wrestling theatrics and pantomime villainy Lesnar brought to the organisation were no longer an imperative, and the sport can now position itself to challenge the popularity of boxing upon its own merits. In his time in MMA, he had underlined the much revered importance of wrestling and athleticism in the heavyweight division, but also that- to secure a legacy- one needs a great deal more. One needs to be a fighter.
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