MMA Analysis: Can Brock Lesnar Really Beat Alistair Overeem at UFC 141?

By Kelvin Hunt

The UFC 141 main event is a heavyweight bout between former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. It’s a fight between two gigantic heavyweights, but ultimately will take us back to the beginning of MMA where we had different clashes of styles in fights. Lesnar is primarily a wrestling with submission knowledge against Overeem who is a striker with submission knowledge. The winner of this fight will get a title shot against the current champion Junior dos Santos. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Brock Lesnar comes into this fight with an overall record of (5-2) with two wins via submission and two wins via TKO/KO. Lesnar was last seen in action over a year ago as he lost his UFC heavyweight title to the now former champion Cain Velasquez back at UFC 121. Lesnar has since been out of action as he had surgery in May after another episode of Diverticulitis. Lesnar is one of the most athletic heavyweights in the world, a former national champion amatuer wrestler, and is well versed in submissions and positions on the ground. The knock on Lesnar is that he isn’t comfortable taking a punch to the face, but he has shown that it takes quite a bit to put him away.

Alistair Overeem comes into this fight with an overall record of (35-11, 1NC) with 19 wins via submission and 14 via TKO/KO. Overeem was last seen in action during the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament in which he won a unanimous decision against Fabricio Werdum. Overeem hasn’t lost since getting knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov back in 2007, and hasn’t gone past the first round since winning the Strikeforce heavyweight title in the same year. Overeem is known for his striking ability and underrated submission game. The knock on him in the past has been cardio issues and suspect takedown defense at times.

Bet on Fighting has Overeem as the betting favorite at (-150) and Lesnar as the underdog at (+120).

I would have to agree with those odds since Lesnar is coming off the long layoff and surgery, and Overeem has been pretty active over the past year and a half in MMA.

This fight is actually pretty easy to breakdown. Lesnar needs to get the fight to the ground and Overeem needs to keep it standing for the easiest path to victory. I always favor wrestlers in these types of fights and I’m normally correct as they can control where the fight takes place most of the time and that’s how I see this fight.

I think Lesnar realizes that this is a five round fight which favors him as Overeem has had cardio issues in the past. I think Lesnar will exude patience in making Overeem work as he’ll have to close the distance to hit Lesnar with those powerful strikes. Overeem’s striking arsenal will be limited to punches mostly as leg kicks and flying knees will make him susceptible to takedowns. Lesnar will look to put Overeem against the cage, not really looking to do damage but moreso just making Overeem work. Overeem is heavily muscled, clinching and defending takedowns will cause the lactic acid to build which will favor Lesnar the longer the fight goes.

If Lesnar is able to get Overeem on the ground he should be fine there in regards to submissions, but Lesnar must be careful of Overeem’s guillontine choke that’s responsible for almost half of his submission victories. Overeem is well versed on the ground, but the chances of him submitting Lesnar from that position are relatively small. Lesnar prefers not to stay in his opponents guard, often moving to halfguard while controlling his opponents. His wrestling base makes him very difficult to sweep as well.

Overeem is a formidable opponent but I think he will fold if Lesnar is able to impose his will. Overeem is the favorite in this fight, he’s making his UFC debut in the main event, his mom is battling cancer, and he’s fighting someone who stylistically isn’t a good matchup for him. That’s a lot to overcome and he can do it with his punching power, but I think Lesnar takes Overeem into the second round and finishes him there via TKO(ground and pound).

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