Alistair Overeem defeated Augusto Sakai in the headliner of the UFC on ESPN+ 34, after a TKO, 26 seconds into the last round. Yet the way the match went on in the first three rounds, just a few could foresee the Dutch’s victory.
“Augusto is a tough guy, and an up-and-comer. We kind of knew that he’d take the punishment. But we did it, at 40 years of age,” said Overeem.
Overeem (47-18 MMA, 12-7 UFC) was under constant pressure from the Brazilian rival who was trying to hurt him in all sorts of ways. Sakai (15-2-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), the undefeated in the UFC up until this point, didn’t have any respect towards one of the MMA legends, and was trying to find a crack in rival’s defense. He was searching for clinch situations, pushing the opponent back to the fence.
And over the first three rounds, he did make an advantage according to the scorecards but didn’t preserve his energy for the most important part of the match. Overeem would accelerate in the fourth, exposing Sakai, who was looking tired and out of gas.
In the final part of that round, the Demolition Man took down his opponent, unleashing several massive strikes that would eventually damage Sakai a lot. The 29-year old survived this moment, but as soon as the final part of the fight started, it was clear that he doesn’t have any chance of reaching the end.
Overeem once again took Sakai down to the canvas, and as soon as he did that, hurt him with some nasty elbows. It was the signal for the referee in the ring, Herb Dean, to interfere and stop the fight. Overeem stated that he had a plan to submit the rival, but after seeing that his striking tactic gives results, he didn’t want to change anything.
“I was actually focused on maybe a submission. But I kind of saw that the damage was kind of substantial with the ground-and-pound. I was like, ‘Oh well, this is working. Let’s stick with this,'” he said.
This is his fourth win over the previous five fights, with the note that all of them came via KO. That one loss was against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in a wild match in which Overeem had everything in his hands until four seconds to go, once Bigi Boy’s desperate punch knocked him out.
Overeem wins via fifth round TKO. What a comeback win for the Reem. He could be on a five-fight winning streak, if not for that very late loss to Rozenstruik. The man just keeps on ticking.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 6, 2020
The veteran is after another title shot, still hoping to win the UFC belt, which would definitely make his legacy unique.
“I love fighting,” Overeem said. “It’s been my passion for 23 years,” indicating that he expects more fights in the near future.
There were some talks that he might get a title-eliminator after this event, and wait to see what happens with Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. The Predator anticipates his rematch after putting up a nice run following his two consecutive defeats against Miocic and Derrick Lewis. According to Dana White, Ngannou is the next in the line for meeting Stipe, and there is no way for any other combination.
As for Sakai, who had just one loss in his entire MMA career, this is a valuable lesson. He has a lot to learn in order to reach the elite group of heavyweight fighters. With 29 years of age, the future is ahead of him, but it is obvious that right now, he doesn’t have what it takes to challenge the best in this division.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.