Step-by-Step: JDS vs Brock vs Overeem
In the world of combat sports ‘undisputed’ is a big word. Although the question of who the #1 ranked heavyweight in the world has been answered by Junior Dos Santos, most fighters tend to agree that the first title defense is what solidifies a champion. Over the last 6 years the UFC has recognized 9 different champions in this weight class, so holding on to the belt appears to be easier said than done. Let us not forget that last Saturday was supposed to be Cain Velasquez’s first title defense, now we see Dos Santos in the same position with an upcoming clash against Brock Lesnar or Alistair Overeem. The winner of this bout will almost certainly be the closest to undisputed that the division has ever seen, especially considering that most of the heavyweight talent has never been under the UFC banner. Below we examine my picks on each of these bouts as well as the strategies each fighter will use for a potential fight.
Lesnar vs Overeem
Brock has shown an amazing ability to adapt his wrestling style to Mixed Martial Arts in a very short time. He is known to overwhelm fighters from the outset and in this fight will look to make his way inside for the takedown attempt. On the feet he will throw some good haymakers to set up his grappling. Make no mistake, the game plan is to go for the ground-and-pound at all costs. He won’t waste too much time on the feet and give Overeem a chance to catch him with something big. He will do whatever is necessary to make this fight a wrestling match.
As much as it’s Brock plan to take the fight to the ground, it’s exactly opposite for Overeem. Reem knows he has a huge advantage in the striking area and will attempt to exploit it by use of his reach and leg kicks. Distance is Overeem’s friend in this match and that’s what he’ll use to avoid a takedown, all while putting the jab in Brock’s face. This fight won’t be so much of sprawl-and-brawl as it will be a keep-out-of-Brock’s reach en route to a KO. This is going to be very similar to how he handled Werdum but with consistently more and better striking.
How it will play out:
This match is more than just what you would call the classic ‘wrestler vs striker’ scenario, mostly because both fighters are exceptional even amongst their fellow wrestlers and strikers. The way I see this going is with Brock having a tremendously difficult time bringing his wrestling to bear. Overeem has shown a decent amount of takedown defense and now that he is training at Extreme Couture it’s likely to get even better. Alistair also has to be the strongest opponent Brock has ever faced and is on par with Brock for the strongest guys at heavyweight. In this fight Brock never makes it to takedown range without catching numerous punches and jabs, all of which will break his confidence and lead to a stoppage in favor of Overeem. The only way the bout doesn’t play out this way is if somehow Brock is able to carry the fight into the later rounds where cardio has been an issue for Reem. My guess is that Brock will not have the chin to get that far.
Lesnar vs JDS
Focusing on his strength and his strengths is going to be the gameplan of this fight. Brock is bigger and stronger than JDS and he will look to make him feel it. The takedown is just one aspect, Brock will attempt to push Dos Santos against the cage and grind him out with his 300lb frame. The plan would be to slow Junior down and weigh on him until taking over in the later rounds. Striking would not be an option here except to set up the clinch.
Ideally the game plan doesn’t change from Junior’s fight’s with other super-wrestlers, defend the takedown until he is able to lower the kibosh. There is no reason to do anything different with Brock considering the difference in striking. Classic sprawl-and-brawl except that Junior makes it pretty.
How it will play out:
This fight has the potential to be worse than Brock vs Cain Velasquez. I literally see no upside for Lesnar in this fight. Dos Santos has better lateral movement and will be able to keep the fight standing long enough to end the evening quickly. Lesnar will not be able to close the distance and any attempt to do so will be met with enough uppercuts to fill the pay-per-view. Dos Santos has shown outstanding takedown defense from guys as large as Brock and as technical as Cain. Unless post-diverticulitis Brock is really that much better than the original version, he doesn’t make it out of the first round. This is a stylistic nightmare for Mr. Lesnar.
JDS vs Overeem
Overeem has 3 distinct advantages in this fight, size, strength and legs. The game plan would be a volley of leg kicks followed by a clinch game incorporating knees to the fullest. Junior’s hands are far too good to allow Alistair to take chances with a purely striking game even if he can win it. Overeem’s use of knees is the best in MMA so he will look to impose his strength and size on Junior while mixing in strikes within the clinch. The plan would be to wear JDS’s body down and set up the KO.
Junior will put all his money on his hands in this fight and wager that he’ll be able to get the KO before Alistair does. He’ll use a lot of movement, set up counters and pick his shots. No secret here, the plan is to outbox the kick boxer using his hands. He’ll take a page from the Anderson Silva playbook and counter-box against everything sent his way.
How it will play out:
Right now this appears to be the fight to decide heavyweight supremacy. Two extremely talented fighters who rarely spend time trying to take any fight to the ground will compare striking pedigrees. These are 2 of my favorites and it’s difficult to pick, in most cases I would say this fight is a toss-up but there are some differences that stand out. JDS may have a better chin, he has been hit flush by a lot of the UFC’s best and still hasn’t really been in trouble. On the other hand, Alistair has been knocked out quite a few times and by smaller guys. True enough he isn’t the same fighter he once was, but it doesn’t change the fact that his chin may not be durable enough for Dos Santos. Also, looking at the Werdum fight which was Alistair’s last outing, some people say that he was outstruck by a guy who is considered a submission artist. Although he was injured it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was taking punishment, or that he wouldn’t have lasted 2 rounds if he were fighting Dos Santos instead. Alistair is probably the better striker overall but JDS’s toughness may outlast Overeem’s cardio and/or chin. What we have here is a superior striker in Overeem vs a great boxer with a superior chin in Dos Santos. Almost anything can happen but the odds are favoring JDS due to performances in Alistair’s past. We have a good idea of how well JDS will perform but can only judge Overeem by the Werdum fight, which isn’t a good sign. I predict JDS by TKO if the fight does happen but it could easily go the other way if the right Alistair shows up.
As you can see, I don’t believe Lesnar is able to win either of these fights. No insult to Brock, but being considered the #6 or #7 baddest man in the world is barely an insult anyway. The real fight is going to be Overeem vs Dos Santos and I wouldn’t put money on either outcome. As Brock Lesnar so famously said at last weekend’s UFC on Fox, ‘this heavyweight belt cannot stay in one man’s hands for very long’. Most of the last decade has proven that already and if the trend continues we might see another fighter holding the belt early next year.