“The Reem” has given mixed martial arts some of its greatest highlights over the years. Though he’s found great success at kickboxing and MMA, he’s also wound up on the wrong end of many knockouts.
This is what happened when he stepped into the octagon against hard-hitting Francis “The Predator” Ngannou at UFC 218. Most fans figured the fight wouldn’t find its way to the judges’ scorecards. The question was which of the two knockout artists would land first.
Ngannou connected with a mammoth left hand that separated Overeem from his senses and sent him crashing to the canvas. These types of scenes become harder to watch as fighters age and the damage they’ve taken accumulates.
Overeem attributes his longevity in the sport to proper training and regular massages. He’s got a 10-4 record in kickboxing, first entering that sport as a pro back in 1999. He started MMA the same year, and has fought 60 times since. As the 37-year-old moves on after his most recent knockout loss, many have expressed the desire for him to retire.
The effects of concussions on the brain are starting to be understood more thoroughly. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a condition that many professional athletes have encountered as they got older, especially those with backgrounds in combat or contact sports.
But Overeem has already put a stop to any petitions or requests urging for him to step away from the sport he loves. He may be ranked in the top five (and has stayed there for years), but the UFC heavyweight title is still the one prize that has eluded him. Overeem shot down retirement talks when asked about who he thought would win the upcoming clash with Ngannou and Miocic.
“I don’t really have a favorite so may the best man win and for all the people that are telling that I should retire. Sorry guys I’m already in the gym!”
Overeem fell short in his bid to win the title from Stipe Miocic, getting the champ in trouble early on but succumbing to ground and pound later. Overeem has beaten a number of former UFC champions, including Fabrico Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, and Junior dos Santos.
Originally starting his career at light heavyweight, Overeem added significant mass to his frame later in his career. Coupled with his long-time dedication to kickboxing, the result was a high-impact knockout artist who had everything from accurate strikes to a great ground game.
Overeem has encountered a few disappointing skids in his career. He’s always managed to come back from disappointing defeats, piecing together some impressively long winning streaks in one of MMA’s most dangerous weight classes.
As for what could be next for Overeem, nothing is official so far. He and former champion Cain Velasquez have never faced off. With Velasquez set to return in 2018, it could be time for a dream matchup to finally take place – and the winner would undoubtedly move toward a title shot against either Miocic or Ngannou.