Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” In UFC Title Hunt, Alistair Overeem Proves Why He’s a Smart Fighter; Cain Velasquez on the Sidelines
By Joshua Molina
Alistair Overeem has Junior Dos Santos exactly where he wants him.
The UFC Heavyweight Champion Dos Santos recently told ESPN.com that he wants to fight Overeem instead of No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez.
According to the report, Dos Santos told UFC boss Dana White that he doesn’t want to fight Velasquez, but would rather fight Overeem because he’s “a punk,” and that “I want to knock him out.”
Overeem has been trying to angle himself into a title shot since testing positive for elevated testosterone levels. Instead, Dos Santos disposed of a flatfooted Frank Mir.
The UFC has booked Santos to fight on Dec. 29, but MMA’s top brand has not stated who the champ will fight.
Dos Santos has fallen into a trap that great champions should be smart enough to avoid. As the champion he’s calling out the contenders, instead of letting the contenders call him out. The ESPN.com report quoted White quoting Dos Santos saying “I have nothing but respect for Cain Velasquez. I like him as a person and as a fighter and he deserves this shot, but I do not want to fight him.’”
Dos Santos should try saying something like this: “I am the best fighter in the world. I will fight anybody. It doesn’t matter who the UFC puts in front of me. I will knock them out.”
Instead he looks like he is ducking Velasquez, a man he destroyed in 64 seconds. In that same report, Velasquez’s trainer Javier Mendez said “Dos Santos camp has been ducking Cain from start to try and get Overeem fight.”
Think about that. Dos Santos whipped Velasquez in the first fight, yet Mendez is in a position to say that Dos Santos is ducking him?
Dos Santos should be careful what he wishes for. Overeem is 36-11, and has not lost in five years. He is a former K-1 world champion, Dream World Champion and Strikeforce World Champion. The tremendously strong Overeem is also one of the heavyweight division’s smartest fighters, as witnessed in his unanimous decision defeat for Fabricio Werdum, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Overeem also hasn’t lost a fight in five years.
Velasquez, a former two-time All-American wrestler, is 10-1 in his MMA career. In the modern day world of MMA, the UFC is rushing fighters into main event status to capitalize on the sport’s popularity while it is still hot. Fighters are battling for titles far too early in their careers. WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar won the UFC championship in his fourth MMA fight.
Velasquez didn’t know what to do against Dos Santos after he got hit. Overeem likely wouldn’t make the same mistake.
Overeem is already showing how savvy he is by baiting Dos Santos into a war of words.
Dos Santos should sit back and let the UFC, not his emotions, book his matches. He only stands to lose by calling specific fighters out. Look at his choices? He already obliterated Velasquez in 64 seconds. Overeem was suspended for six months after his test results were revealed.
Why don’t Velasquez and Overeem fight each other for the right to fight the champ? Let the contenders prove who’s No. 1. With the exception of UFC middleweight great Anderson Silva, UFC fighters don’t hold titles for very long because UFC paydays while the product is hot, not fighter development, typically is the UFC’s first priority.
Velasquez will only get better with more fights. Overeem should probably have to prove himself one more time after his test result.
In the meantime, Dos Santos isn’t acting like a champion. He’s acting like a challenger, who values the hunt more than being the hunted. And Overeem, is preparing to pounce.