UFC 141: A Look Back
The last UFC event of 2011 saw the rise of new stars and the ends of old legends. Last Friday, Brock Lesnar’s brief foray into the sport of mixed martial arts was laid to rest by the brutal body shots of Alistair Overeem. Some fans of the sport have already taken to questioning Lesnar’s heart. They point to his lackluster offense and lack of visible damage to criticize his performance, when in reality he took severe punishment to the midsection from a kickboxing champion. Before detracting from Overeem’s win and denouncing the validity of Lesnar’s legacy, fans and fighters alike should study the science behind Overeem’s liver shots
The liver shot has a storied history in MMA. From Bas Rutten’s memorable Pancrase knockouts (a promotion that does not allow fist strikes to the head!) to Nam Phan’s fight-ending liver punch on Cody McKenzie in The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, strikes to the liver have been quietly compiling a list of wins for fighters that understand how to pull them off. At UFC 141 another fighter’s name was added to the list: Alistair Overeem.
In understanding the crippling effects of getting hit in the liver, the function of the organ must be addressed. While the liver provides human beings with hundreds of vital functions, perhaps the most well-known function is the act of detoxification. The liver produces bile, a substance that removes harmful wastes from the body. Striking the organ may result in the involuntary release of the substance, causing an energy-depleting, nauseous feeling. In their fight, Overeem landed numerous kicks on Lesnar’s midsection, one of which left the former UFC champion incapacitated on the ground and open to Overeem’s offense.
Overeem had entered the fight with numerous distractions. His mother’s cancer treatments led him to abruptly end his training with Xtreme Couture, pending lawsuits from his former management team caused a judge to withhold his fight purse (which ended up not happening), and drug testing gone awry almost ended the fight before it even began! Somehow the Dutch fighter found the strength to rise against all the adversities leading up to the fight and dominate Lesnar within the first round. Aside from an early cut, Overeem easily handled the former collegiate wrestling champion and ensured that UFC fans would remember his name in the future.
Lesnar’s legacy in the sport is already solidified. In only four short years he has risen to the top of the largest MMA organization in the world, defeated some of the best known heavyweights in the world, won and defended his title twice, and remained conscious after vicious onslaughts from the likes of Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, and now Alistair Overeem. It would be a rare fan that can claim the same accomplishments.
UFC 141 ended a monumental year. Huge television deals were made, organizations were joined under the same umbrella, and the biggest freight train in the game made its final stop. Rather than reveling in the glories of the past or discrediting others, MMA fans should eagerly look towards 2012 with high hopes. 2011 set the bar high, but the future remains largely unknown. A bright new dawn is breaking, let’s look to make it great!