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UFC 141: battle of the big boys

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 Unlike boxing, Dana White and the UFC can make the heavyweight fights people want to see, especially with their recent purchase of Strikeforce. You can dis monopolies, but in sports organizations like this, competition waters down talent. UFC 141 will show fans what kind of card Dana can put on even without a title fight.

On Friday, December 30th, 6’3” 265 pound  behemoth Brock Lesnar (5-2) will pit his wrestling pedigree  against 6’5” 256 pound K-1 kickboxing champion Alistair ‘The Demolition Man’ Overeem (35-11-1). Win or lose, this five-round non-title fight could sink or swim the career of either fighter.

Lesnar is a former NCAA wrestling champion and a former professional wrestler who, in a mere  half dozen UFC fights, has become one of the their top draws. Despite his size, he is light on his feet, and his wrestling and ground and pound have proved difficult to handle for fighters like Heath Herring and Frank Mir.

Lesnar weathered a horrific first round against equally huge Shane Carwin before the latter collapsed in the 2nd and fell to an arm-triangle  choke, but Lesnar was later TKOed by Cain Velasquez, whose own wrestling stymied Lesnar’s. Lesnar tried and failed to  strike with the American kickboxing Academy prodigy, and in the process, Lesnar showed an unwillingness to take big shots.

Overeem could be considered Lesnar’s opposite. The Dutch fighter might be the best technical kickboxer in the UFC. However, plodding European-style strikers haven’t always proved effective in applying their skill set to mixed martial arts, where you have to think about a lot more than just hitting and not being hit---Frank Mir’s destruction of Cheick Kongo is an example. Overeem was not able to finish Fabricio Werdum, either, a man current UFC champ Junior dos Santos destroyed with an uppercut in round one. And Overeem has not fought in the UFC, where most of the best heavyweights reside.

So, can Overeem stuff Lesnar’s takedowns, or get up if he has his back on the mat? Or will Lesnar weather Overeem’s fists and knees to get the fight down? The sheer bulk of the men, who may cut weight to weigh in at the limit of 265, means the answer will come before the end of the first.

A second bout with diverticulitis has had Lesnar out of the octagon since October 23, 2010, and history shows octagon rust after long layoffs is a fact. He’s hardly had any fights to begin with, and was gifted a title shot at 2-1 back in 2008 due to his sheer drawing power.

Overeem, on the other hand, has had many more fights, but in PRIDE, K-1, DREAM and Strikeforce. He has faced decent  opponents, like Paul Buentello,  Todd Duffee and Fabricio Werdum, but none of the current elite MMA fighters, unless you count Werdum. In spite of the inherent weaknesses these former specialists have, both are upper-echelon heavyweights, and whether or not there are more deserving fighters to challenge dos Santos, the winner gets to fight for the title in 2012.

Overeem’s overall grappling has improved dramatically over the last few years, which allowed him to defend against submissions against BJJ ace Werdum, but Overeem does not possess enough pure wrestling to overcome Lesnar’s control on the ground. The only fighters to give Lesnar fits are the high-level wrestlers, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez.

Look for Lesnar to get the Dutchman down and feed him fists till the ref shows compassion, by round two at the latest.

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