Alistair Overeem has beaten four former UFC heavyweight champions and faces another tough test in Saturday's main event against Walt Harris.
Saturday’s main event at UFC Fight Night 172 not only features a huge heavyweight battle that promises to produce fireworks, but it also has a tragic backstory that the favourite, Walt Harris, is trying to overcome against veteran Alistair Overeem.
Harris was scheduled to fight Overeem in early December of last year but pulled out in early November because his 19-year-old stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard went missing in their native Alabama in late October.
It made national news, and tragically she was found shot to death eventually. Blanchard reportedly fought back against her attacker after she was abducted. Ibraheem Yazeed, who had no ties to the family, was charged with two counts of capital murder and kidnapping. At the time of Blanchard’s disappearance, Yazeed was free on a $295,000 bond for charges of kidnapping and attempted murder. Truly sad.
Thus, Saturday surely will be emotional for Harris, who is set as a -170 favourite on the UFC odds board. All 13 of his victories are by KO/TKO. In his wins, the fights average just 0.6 rounds, while in his losses they average 1.7 rounds. Harris (13-7) hasn’t been in the Octagon since a first-round knockout (knee and punches) of Alexey Oleynik in July 2019, earning Harris a Performance of the Night bonus. Harris is a former Golden Gloves boxer as well. He played one season of college basketball at Jacksonville State.
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The 39-year-old Dutchman Overeem (45-18) once had a case to be called the baddest man on the planet because he is a former DREAM, Strikeforce and K-1 world kickboxing champion. In fact, the “Demolition Man” is one of only two fighters to ever hold world titles in both MMA and K-1 kickboxing at the same time.
Overeem has beaten four former UFC heavyweight champions in his career but in his only UFC title shot, he lost to Miocic via first-round knockout at UFC 203 in September 2016. When Harris pulled out of their bout late last year, Overeem fought Jairzinho Rozenstruik instead in December and was knocked out by a punch with just four seconds remaining in Round 5. Overeem was leading by scores of 39-37, 39-37 and 40-36 on the three judges’ cards at the time.
Fights involving Overeem rarely go the distance as he has five wins by decision and three losses that way. He wins 51 per cent of the time by TKO/KO and loses 78 per cent of the time that way. His wins average 1.1 rounds and his losses 1.7. He’s sitting as a +130 underdog on the UFC odds board.
UFC Fight Night 172 Predictions: Overeem vs. Harris
Take Harris by KO/TKO here. While Overeem still his all the tools to compete with the best of the division, it seems like Harris is ready to be a title contender.