What happens tonight when more than 500 pounds of muscle and might meet in the Octagon is anyone’s guess—and really guessing is about the only way to breakdown UFC 141’s main event between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem at the MGM Grand.
Sure there’s the known tangibles that the former UFC champ Lesnar, a 6-foot-3, 266-pound NCAA champion wrestler, will try to get the fight to the ground, while the outstanding Dutch kickboxer Overeem, who is 6-foot-5, 263-pounds, is much more comfortable on his feet.
But whether those contrasting fight styles play out or the significance, if any, of the unusual storylines that have built up to the UFC’s end-of-the-year event, makes this main event as compelling as any of the other stellar match-ups from 2011.
“It’s definitely going to be more complex than that, but maybe not,” said the 31-year-old Overeem (35-11 MMA record) of whether his UFC debut will be decided by Lesnar’s wrestling or his own striking.
“Maybe it’s going to be simple. You’re just going to have to wait and see.”
The stories leading up to tonight’s top contender match (the winner gets champ Junior dos Santos) have been anything but straightforward.
The 34-year-old Lesnar (5-2) hasn’t fought in 14 months after a second battle with diverticulitis sidelined him, and eventually forced a foot of his colon to be surgically removed.
But Lesnar, whose last outing in the Octagon saw former champ Cain Velasquez pick him apart with punches at UFC 121, promises he’s completely healthy and ready for the powerful striking Overeem.
“I feel the greatest I’ve felt in a long time, and I’ve actually just sat and just pondered about how good I feel and how fortunate I am just to be back here,” Lesnar said.
“(Overeem) has worked and fought in other organizations that can’t hold a candle in the wind against this organization. This organization is the only organization out there with legitimate athletes in it, so he’s going to discover that. (The MGM Grand Garden) is my house, too. That Octagon is my home.”
The last three months haven’t been a picnic for Overeem, either.
He’s had a very public falling out with his former Golden Glory team, had to quickly return to Holland to care for his ailing mother, and missed a pre-fight drug test that nearly jeopardized the bout before finally satisfying the Nevada State Athletic Commission requirements earlier this month.
Yet Overeem—the former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 kickboxing champ, who hasn’t lost a bout since September 2007—said none of those distractions have hindered his training and predicts a fast finish.
“We’re not the type of guys that want it to go to the second round,” said Overeem, who all week has predicted he will win via a first or second-round KO.
“Judging from his character and his previous fights, he’s going to come in for the kill, and so am I. One plus one is two.”
The co-main event could be equally or more explosive as the Lesnar-Overeem bout considering Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s dislike for Nate Diaz, who in addition to providing a ton of trash talk during the promotional tour flipped off Cerrone’s custom-made cowboy hat during Wednesday’s public press conference.
“Let’s see if he’s brave enough to swat my hat off on Friday,” said Cerrone, who is looking for his fifth victory in 2011. “Let’s see if he even comes close. Friday, I’m gonna make him pay.”
Top welterweight Jon Fitch returns from a 10-month absence to take on two-time NCAA champion wrestler Johny Hendricks on the main card.