You can find tape from Alistair OvereemThe professional MMA debut online if you want to see it – though you don’t expect to see it in high definition. It was October 24, 1999. Overeem was 19 years old and was facing a very muscular older opponent named Ricardo Fyeet, also known as “The Animal”, in Haarlem, the Netherlands.
When the opening bell rang, Overeem’s first move as a professional teenage fighter was a dead sprint over the ring into a flying knee.
The knee missed about 5 feet, but in retrospect what a fitting way to begin a career in MMA. More than two decades and 65 fights later, Overeem is 40 years old and about to retire – it is him Recognized many times lately that his career is almost over – but possibly right before a UFC title shot.
The UFC returns as in action at the UFC Apex on February 6th Alistair Overeem (ESPN’s # 6 heavyweight) and Alexander Volkov (# 7) compete for a chance to improve their heavyweight standing. Overeem has won four of their last five, while Volkov took one win in October Walt Harris.
UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Volkov
• Saturday February 6th, Las Vegas (UFC Apex)
• Primary Ticket: 8pm ET on ESPN +
• Preparations: 5:00 pm ET on ESPN +
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Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) faces Alexander Volkov (32-8) at the UFC Fight Night Main Event on Saturday at the Apex facility in Las Vegas. And just like this 19-year-old boy who went up in flames his pro debut weapons (he would win the fight in the first round, by the way), Overeem remains fearless, confident, and unmistakably upbeat.
Two and a half years ago, Overeem had suffered devastating losses Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. It seemed like a fair time to wonder how his career would end. And when Overeem decided to still talk about winning a title, it felt a little like a delusion. It just didn’t seem like that was still on the cards for him.
Ultimately, it couldn’t be. Overeem fell short when challenging Stipe Miocic in 2016, and time will tell if he can even make it back to a title fight.
But Overeem’s willingness to fight anyone – he refused to pick high-profile opponents even at this stage in his career – and his ability to still make big wins have him at least on the verge of the cover picture. If he wins on Saturday he could be just one more win away.
It’s rarely the case that a 40-year-old fighter can realistically discuss pursuing his first UFC championship and his upcoming retirement at the same time. Overeem’s self-titled #onefinalrun quest is definitely worth seeing.
By the numbers
ESPN statistics and information
66: End of career of these two fighters together. Overeem had 42 placements (25 Ko, 17 submissions) in 47 wins. Volkov had 24 placements (21 KOs, 3 submissions) in 32 wins. A night off for the judges?
4: Seconds between Overeem and a winning streak of five fights. In his December 2019 fight with Jairzinho RozenstruikOvereem was ahead on all three scorecards in Round 5 when Rozenstruik scored a one-punch knockout at 4:56 a.m. – four seconds before the bout was scheduled to end.
9: Knockouts in Overeem’s UFC, putting him in fourth place among the heavyweights. The leader is Derrick Lewis, at 11. Overeem, aptly known as “The Demolition Man”, has won in its four most recent wins and seven of its last eight knockout games.
4-1: Volkov’s UFC record as betting favorite. He is the favorite of -190, with Overeem as the underdog of +160 (as of Tuesday).
Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats
Five against five
The latest results from Alistair Overeem
Victory: Augusto Sakai (TKO5, September 5, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Walt Harris (TKO2, May 16, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Loss: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (KO5, December 5, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Alexei Oleinik (TKO1, April 20, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Sergei Pavlovich (TKO2, November 24, 2018)
The latest results from Alexander Volkov
Victory: Walt Harris (TKO2, October 24, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Loss: Curtis Blaydes (UD, June 20, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Greg Hardy (UD, November 9, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Loss: Derrick Lewis (KO3, October 6, 2018)
Victory: Fabricio Werdum (KO4, March 17, 2018)
And the winner is …
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“This is going to be an extremely tactical game of chess between two seasoned fighters,” says veteran MMA coach Din Thomas, a former UFC fighter. “The more tactical it is, the cheaper it is for Overeem because he is fighting the best he has ever fought in his career.”
UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith imagine another scenario. “I think we’re going to see a typical Volkov fight: stay long, attack the body, and be very precise,” says Smith, who acts as an analyst on UFC shows. “I really love seeing this guy strike.”
Watch as these and other experts break up Saturday’s heavyweight main event Here.
How to watch the fights
Watch the fighting on ESPN +. If you don’t have ESPN +, Get it here.
There are also FightCenter, Here you can find live updates for every UFC card.
Saturday’s battle card
ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET
Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov | Heavyweight
Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar | Men bantamweight
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel cape | Men’s flyweight
Cody Stamann vs. Soldiers soldiers | Men’s featherweight
Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush | Light
ESPN +, 5 p.m. ET
Michael Johnson vs. Sound guide | Light
Mike Rodriguez vs. Danilo Marques | Light heavyweight
Timur Valiev vs. Martin Day | Men’s featherweight
Justin Jaynes vs. Devonte Smith | Catchweight (160 pounds)
Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards | Women bantamweight
Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio | Women’s flyweight
Seungwoo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal | Men’s featherweight
Ode ‘Osbourne vs. Denys Bondar | Men bantamweight
Four More Things to Know (from ESPN Stats & Information)
1. Frankie Edgar fight for that second time in bantamweight when he stands Cory Sandhagen in the co-main event as a 3-1 outsider. Edgar won his £ 135 debut against Pedro Munhoz In August, he became the fourth fighter in UFC history to win lightweight, featherweight, and bantamweight bouts. Edgar, Manvel Gamburyan, Lucas Martins and George Roop are among the 13 fighters who have won three UFC weight classes.
From Monday to Friday, host Pablo Torre gives you an inside look at the most interesting stories at ESPN, told by the best reporters and insiders in the world. listen
2. The main map opens with Diego Ferreira – No. 10 in the ESPN lightweight rankings – his six-fight winning streak on the line against Beneil Dariushwho has won five in a row. This marks the sixth fight in UFC lightweight history with both fighters claiming five or more wins, and the first since then Khabib Nurmagomedov (nine wins in a row at that time) became champions in 2018 by Ende Al Iaquinta‘s streak at five in a row.
3. In the title of the preliminary round, Sound guide will be the eighth fighter in UFC history to play 30 fights in the Octagon when faced with a 23-fight UFC veteran Michael Johnson. Their 52 combined bouts put them in a tie for the second most common combined bouts entering a UFC matchup. The record is held by Guida together with Jim Miller (59 combined UFC bouts will start in August 2019).
4th Mike Rodriguezwho is facing Danilo Marques, returns to the octagon for the first time since a controversial loss in September Ed Herman – in which the referee mistakenly paused a fight, Rodriguez seemed ready to win because he believed there had been a groin blow. After recovering from break, Herman took a submission win. Rodriguez is 2-3 with a no contest in the UFC, but he holds the light heavyweight record for highest shot accuracy (60.7%) and highest shot rate among active 205 pounders (5.28 per minute).
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this bout preview.