K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Heavyweight Champion and now former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem has a big fight coming up as he makes his UFC debut, squaring off against Brock Lesnar. Apparently in one of his past trips to California he ended up plopped down in the middle of a set for a music video for "electro-pop" group LMFAO. If you are like me and are an adult male who has not flicked on the radio in the past ten years, the fact that this music exists can be alarming, disturbing and mildly amusing, but to each their own. Alistair Overeem appears in this video, which at least makes it sort of manly. This is LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" music video which includes men in banana hammocks shaking their stuff. Thankfully Overeem refrains from, to quote Mrs. Bluth, "waggling his pickle."
If this isn't for you, see how it's done for fighters in music videos after the break.
There are a few writers out there who have gotten a bad rap over the past few years, Tomas Rios is one of them, after the whole "Joe Rogan got Rios fired" thread from the Underground Forum happened a few months ago that also involved some poor word choices. The truth is, Rios knows what he is doing, and his new blog is a breath of fresh air when he posts something new.
Rios takes a look at Alistair Overeem's absolutely astounding December where he ripped through top competition in K-1 to become the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion as well as his hilarious dismantling of Todd Duffee, a fighter who was on the "UFC-level" before his bad attitude got him fired. Rios takes a slow-motion, blow-by-blow look at the turning points in each fight and comes to a conclusion that you haven't seen a lot of people wanting to admit; Alistair Overeem is really, really good.
In his last four fights the same storyline has played out -- a single, careless mistake is made and the response is a fundamentally flawless display of pure violence. The X-factor here isn't Overeem's size, strength or anything else that is won in the genetic lottery or gained in weight rooms.
What makes Overeem so singular in combat sports is that he is a 6'5", 260 lb. heavyweight who has the striking technique to dismantle all comers and the kind of cutthroat finishing instincts that can't be explained, they can only be admired. By the way, take another look at the GIFs [included] and something else should catch your eye -- Overeem was doing work from both the orthodox and southpaw stance.
Go and read the full article for a breakdown of each fight and to see just how incredible Ubereem really is.
For some people, going out to clubs is a lifestyle and serves as an integral part of their lives, and Alistair Overeem is one of those people. The former DREAM Heavyweight Champion, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Champion (as well as possible UFC Heavyweight Champion) Alistair Overeem is once again in trouble again. Overeem first stumbled into a world of trouble a few years ago when his big brother, Valentijn Overeem, got into a scuffle in a bathroom in Amsterdam. This resulted in the Overeem bothers dispatching a number of bouncers in short order while Alistair broke his thumb in the process, putting him on the shelf for a while.
The latest incident sounds pretty fishy to me. This morning the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Alistair Overeem was involved in an incident on January 2nd at a night club in Las Vegas. The alleged incident revolves around a 3am shove that one woman claims caused her to stagger backwards. Alistair could face a possible six months in prison or a hefty $1,000 fine in this case if found guilty, but has maintained his innocence in the matter. The woman claims that he "shoved her face" which caused her to stagger backwards, and quite honestly, in the case of Alistair Overeem even a gentle tap could send a full grown man staggering backwards. If Ubereem wanted to legitimately shove someone they'd do a whole lot more than simply stagger backwards.
If you haven't had enough Alistair Overeem rumors, prepare for a new one. Remember the opponent of the week last week? Last week, Bobby Lashley was all-but-confirmed according to multiple websites, with a Strikeforce employee tweeting that Lashley was going to be the man to step up and fight Alistair Overeem. The way that FEG has handled Alistair Overeem is really no different than the way that they handle any other fighter, the main difference is that Overeem holds a championship in a United States promotion, Strikeforce.
This immediately means that any Overeem news garners attention from the media and blogs in the US and the speculation goes through the roof. In a way, it is a severe shortcoming on the part of FEG. FEG has finally found a star that could help them truly break through to a United States audience, but they are treating him like business-as-usual.
Last night, Todd Duffee posted on his Facebook page that you can watch him vs. "Overeem" on HDnet on New Year's Eve. So now there is a post on Sherdog that the fight is "50-50." At this point, Duffee has signed his cotract and the money has been hammered out between his camp and FEG, he simply needs to attain a short-term visa and everything is a go, right?
I feel like a grandfather trying to talk to his teenage grandson about the time he got the clap in Korea while all the kid can think about is getting laid. Everyone is so excited for the prospect of Overeem finally having a fight that they are missing the fact that this feels familiar. Last week Dave Meltzer, the most reliable reporter in the business (I know, Helwani does cool backstage videos, I know) said he was certain of the Lashley fight happening. Last year Andrei Arlovski's camp applied for a temporary work visa and had signed a contract, too.
No matter who the source, how certain they are, until the ink is completely dry and FEG announces it, Overeem does not have an opponent.
UPDATE: According to sources close to the situation, Todd Duffee has agreed to be paid $60,000 to fight Overeem and has not been training for a fight at all, this was completely last minute. Official announcement expected the 27th.
Alistair Overeem could very well be done with the world of K-1 for now. A lot of people have been sleeping on this factor, but this could be the fallout from Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce and the fact that many fighters will be offered Zuffa contracts from Joe Silva and Co. almost immediately to lock them in. To say that a fighter like Alistair Overeem wouldn't be on that list would be to not know who he is. Overeem is the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, and with his desire to fight in the United States and Zuffa currently owning the US MMA scene and FEG not paying him, it would be difficult to assume that he'd turn down a Zuffa contract.
Fight Game, Golden Glory's Clothing and All-Encompassing brand put up a new interview with the Champ where he discusses a few reader-asked topics. We also note that Fight Game has a US-based store now, so if you want one of those bad ass Overeem or Golden Glory shirts you see on all of those K-1, Ultimate Glory, It's Showtime and Strikeforce shows, you now can. Oh, and there is a US-based distribution center, so the shipping is dirt cheap. So head on over there and grab some stuff after you listen to Overeem.
Lion Fight 10 was the big story of this weekend in the world of Kickboxing and Muay Thai in the Western world, but there have been some interesting things going on in the world of Kickboxing of late, namely centered around GLORY's big push into the United States. There has been talk for a while now about some fighters and even gyms either moving over to the United States or having some gyms open "branches" here in the United States. This could be the beginning of something much bigger here, as there has been confirmation of Murthel Groenhart training in Florida with the Jaco Fight Team/Blackzilians in preparation for his GLORY 10 fight against Davit Kiria.
This is, what we assume to be, the tip of the iceberg for this sort of stuff. We've heard rumors of a lot more going on, with GLORY possibly helping fighters to find gyms in the United States to train at, as well as some gyms looking to move some operations to the United States. This means we can expect a lot more going on here in the US over the next few months.
Badr Hari cannot escape his violent past, even while partying it up in the Amsterdam ArenA with his celebrity girlfriend, Estelle Cruyff, in a VIP box. As we reported earlier, at a Dutch dance festival in Amsterdam, Badr Hari was present and in his VIP box a 38 year-old man was brutally assaulted, with his leg and face badly damaged.
It looks like the victim is multimillionaire Koen Everink, and that the damages to his person might be so severe that he might never be able to walk properly again. The police have not ruled out Badr's involvement in the assault yet, although he and his lawyer claim he is innocent. From the reports that we are hearing he will give a statement to the police either today or tomorrow and hopefully this can be cleared up.
Even if innocent, this is far from the first run-in Badr has had with the law over violent assaults, the most recent in 2010 that hindered Hari from participating in the K-1 World Grand Prix, which was won by current UFC Heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem.
The sport of kickboxing is one that has been around for a while under different rules, names and appearances, but has gone through periods of interest and disinterest alike. Without a doubt kickboxing was at its highest point in Japan from the mid-90’s through the late 2000’s under the K-1 banner. K-1 was an undeniable force in combat sports that wowed fans all over the world and kept up its level of mystique. K-1 was a monolith in the combat sports world, a Japanese organization that seemed to always have a small stable of fighters that it promoted while rarely swapping them out for newer, younger talents.
Throughout the years K-1 earned some scorn and derision from fans and insiders, claims of corruption, fight-fixing and organized crime ties behind the scenes would eventually tear the organization apart, yet fans still came out in droves right up until the final gong. Now here we sit, just shy of five years after FEG’s K-1 imploded and we are watching organizations like GLORY, K-1 Global, K-1 Japan, Enfusion and SuperKombat struggle to gain traction in their respective markets. To many, it is a mystery to mull over why brands like GLORY haven’t caught on with more fans, but it seems clear as day what the key differences were between K-1’s glory days and the current marketplace is; creativity.
If you go back and watch the first K-1 World Grand Prix that was won by Branko Cikatic you can see the roots of what would become the K-1 that we knew and loved, yet something was missing. Branko was a fine fighter, but he wasn’t the type of fighter that the Japanese audience would fall in love with or be featured on television like many future K-1 champions would be. Everything from the lighting to the stage setup and presentation was good but not quite there yet. Then professional wrestling god Akira Maeda helped K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii to meld professional wrestling ideals into the sport and everything changed.
Looking back at K-1’s list of champions and fighters that endured the passage of time as icons you’ll always find something to latch onto about these fighters. A young Peter Aerts was called the Dutch Lumberjack, entering the ring wearing a flannel vest and hat. Ernesto Hoost was called Mr. Perfect because of his immaculate technique and lived up the gimmick whenever he was on camera as the perfect fighter. Andy Hug was the karateka with a profound love and admiration for the Japanese culture so he was always seen in his signature gi in promotional videos and so on.
What I’m trying to say is that K-1 had characters. These characters were of course real-life fighters and maybe just small exaggerations of the fighters’ personalities, but each fighter that K-1 sunk considerate amounts of time and energy into marketing had a larger-than-life personality that when placed on a large stage was able to enthrall fans. Many have written off such things as simply “Japanese” and that they wouldn’t work anywhere else, but a cursory look around the world at the legions of fans of K-1 and those fighters shows just how effective that was.
I’ve heard the arguments as to why this current crop of kickboxing stars can’t be presented in that way, everything from “well, they aren’t as charismatic” to “fans want real, not manufactured hype,” but the proof is in the pudding. Chi Lewis Parry has been one of the fighters that GLORY has been heavily marketing in part due to just how much he can talk. When Chi Lewis Parry opens his mouth people listen, which is part of the magic of Chi Lewis Parry. I’m not sure that he’s ready for Rico Verhoeven just yet, but he’s found himself an audience much like Chael Sonnen did years ago and how Conor McGregor has done in the UFC recently. Chi Lewis Parry’s talent hasn’t been nurtured or curated, though, just thrust at the screen once discovered without much thought put into it.
A large part of what made K-1 so successful has to be on the shoulders of Kazuyoshi Ishii, who had the vision and talent to find these personality traits in his fighters and to amplify them. Peter Aerts was nowhere near the level of a talker as a Chi Lewis Parry or a Conor McGregor, yet he made a ton of money for K-1 and became a world famous personality off of being the “Dutch Lumberjack” and later “Mr. K-1.” In fact, Aerts is rather soft-spoken and is one of the kindest guys that you’ll ever talk to who enjoys laughing and not taking himself too seriously, yet fans were always invested in Aerts.
That was the magic of K-1. You didn’t need to be Bob Sapp to become a star. In fact, while fighters like Bob Sapp who could talk and looked imposing did great business for K-1, they wouldn’t last because of the lack of talent. Where K-1 really shined was finding legitimately talented fighters and building them into something special. In fact, there was one great project near the end of K-1’s run that deserves special attention; Alistair Overeem.
Overeem was a moderately successful MMA fighter with an imposing physique, vicious knees and a great standing guillotine that never seemed to really catch on with fans. Yet, somehow, in 2008 after wins over Paul Buentello, Mark Hunt and a draw against Mirko Cro Cop he was brought into K-1 to fight their golden boy Badr Hari on New Year’s Eve. Badr Hari was coming off of a rather embarrassing display where he essentially imploded under the pressure during the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals against Remy Bonjasky and got himself disqualified, so K-1 thrust him into a New Year’s Eve freakshow fight to defend the honor of K-1 against the MMA world’s Overeem. The thing is, Overeem knocked Badr Hari out and all hell broke loose.
Alistair Overeem is a relatively quiet, soft-spoken guy. In fact, he’s a pretty nice dude for a guy who is as muscular and scary in the ring as he is. The cocky Badr Hari who had just earlier in the month lost the K-1 World Grand Prix via disqualification was there to get his win back, to get back on track and regain face after his in-ring meltdown, but instead a new star was born in Overeem. Overeem tried his hand against the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion of Remy Bonjasky a few months later and looked scary, but ultimately lacking experience against a tactician like Bonjasky and dropped a decision. That wasn’t the end of Overeem in K-1, oh no, not by a longshot.
The K-1 marketing machine quickly went to work with Overeem, producing perhaps one of the most amazing hype videos that I’ve ever seen for a fighter leading into the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. This video showed Overeem on the streets of Holland with his signature mallet that he used to bring to the ring with him smashing a bike into pieces. It encapsulated the fury that we saw in the ring from Overeem, the raw power and emotion that he brought into fights without him having to cut an eloquent interview. After smashing a bike and a camera tripod he pointed to the camera, took a few deep breaths and uttered “Everybody’s gonna die.”
It was beautiful. I remember seeing it at the time and just being awestruck by it. Alistair Overeem held a victory over Badr Hari and nearly defeated then-champion Remy Bonjasky and was going to fight the legend Peter Aerts in the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16. Overeem was being billed as the outsider, the invader who was looking to usurp the throne that was always held by the best kickboxers in the world for his own. It was a simple, effective narrative that was only exacerbated when he defeated Peter Aerts in the Final 16, securing his spot in the K-1 World Grand Prix.
K-1 did a series of vignettes with Overeem leading up to his entry into the K-1 World Grand Prix, focusing on his raw strength and his crazy, unorthodox training in Holland. While all of that was good, perhaps what was the most effective was showing him eat. Sounds weird, right? But Alistair Overeem is a huge dude who needed a lot of protein and when they sent a camera crew to show him cooking his own food and talking about how he ate horsemeat for its protein value, well, everyone went nuts. Alistair Overeem filmed inside of a tiny Dutch kitchen that he could barely fit inside of cooking horse steaks to prepare for the K-1 World Grand Prix was an image that endures to this day as one of the defining moments in the career of “Ubereem.”
His first fight was to be against the Kyokushin fighter from Brazil that was popular in Japanese karate circuits in Ewerton Teixeira. Teixeira was always a skilled guy who wasn’t the most exciting fighter to watch, but he connected well enough with fans and filled an important role for the organization by representing Kyokushin. The video package that they created leading into that fight hammered home their narrative of Overeem being an “invader” from MMA, showing highlights from his fights with Badr, Remy and Aerts. The visual of Overeem literally bullying around the K-1 legend Peter Aerts and tossing around Remy Bonjasky was a powerful one, so was the interview footage of Badr Hari talking about his loss to Overeem. They also sowed the seeds of Overeem vs. Badr Hari meeting again in the tournament in a rematch for the ages, which played a big role in the 2009 K-1 World Grand Prix.
Overeem scored an absolutely brutal knockout on Ewerton Teixeira with a clinch knee, which helped to lead to the legend of the UBERKNEE and only made Overeem look that much stronger heading into the semifinals against Badr Hari. The rematch with Badr Hari was the story of the show, by far, which overshadowed what would become another Semmy Schilt victory. The real story of the show was that Alistair Overeem’s stock was on the rise and that it was part skill and talent and part marketing and narrative-building. This fight was the culmination of a lot of work and storytelling where a lot of credit should go to Michael Schiavello’s absolutely brilliant narrative-driven call throughout this event.
I’ve heard many a fan decry Schiavello, Sefo and Kogan’s call during that match, or their celebration on-camera after the fight as “cheesey” or “unprofessional,” but the reality was that they were genuinely excited and engaged in the narrative, as was the entire crowd. That finish still gives me chills to this day because of just how perfect of a moment it was. The thing is, I’ve heard a lot of people say that narratives in combat sports are “impossible” because of the unpredictable nature of people getting hit in the face, but the truth is that a deft storyteller will find a way to weave a complex narrative that can be altered along the way to be just as effective.
Due to Badr Hari once again losing his cool in the ring in 2010 he was on a bit of a sabbatical from the sport, leaving the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix wide open for new blood. The tournament saw a lot of top names involved, including newer names like Tyrone Spong and Gokhan Saki becoming dark horses to win the entire tournament and to bring new blood into the K-1 lineage. K-1 continued their push for Overeem, though, pushing the narrative of Overeem more focused than ever on K-1, but still slightly arrogant and the outsider heading into the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix.
They focused on his raw strength as one of his selling points. We know in combat sports that raw strength and physique aren’t what makes a fighter “good,” but by pushing this narrative they kept building up Overeem as a larger-than-life character, even having him talking about how he grew up watching Hulk Hogan in WWF.
Overeem, of course, would go on to win the K-1 World Grand Prix, becoming one of the most famous fighters in Japan. His stock also rose within the United States as well, with more and more fans calling for him to step back into the Strikeforce cage to defend the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship, maybe even go to the UFC and challenge Brock Lesnar in a dream match. In fact, Overeem now had an aura about him when he stepped into the ring. He was the K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and that not only meant something, it meant everything at the time.
Regardless of your opinion of Alistair Overeem, K-1 took a fighter that was talented and driven and helped to push him beyond the level that he was at the time. They helped to make him a star and a featured attraction that they were drawing money off of up until scandal struck and the company lost their television deal and ultimately disintegrated.
Alistair Overeem is simply the last example of starbuilding that K-1 did and how that work that they did on pushing Overeem’s larger-than-life character was able to carry over after his K-1 career and help to build him up to be a living legend in combat sports. Anything that happened after is immaterial, of course, but he was still elevated in part by K-1’s huge push that endeared him to fans across the world. If you were to ask me what is missing from modern kickboxing that K-1 was able to do the answer is simple; they built stars. They made fans care about their fighters while transforming them into characters and building narratives around their fights.
It didn’t matter if these characters won or lost, they were still verifiable draws for K-1 and vital parts of the K-1 ecosystem. Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Jerome Le Banner, Andy Hug, Ray Sefo and many other fighters won and lost in the K-1 ring but it never mattered because they’d come back and get another chance. They’d get another chance and K-1 would weave stories about these fighters and their upcoming fights that made fans genuinely interested in seeing what came next. These narratives didn’t need to be perfect, they just needed to exist.
That doesn’t exist today. Instead we get training footage, cut-and-dry interviews and a focus on who won and who lost, not the humanity behind who won or lost. Not the story. If you treat a fighter who lost like a human being and tell their story the chances of fans being interested in their next fight is only going to increase. This is why fighters like Aerts and Hoost could have thirty year long careers that included crushing losses but still attract fans to this day.
The sport of kickboxing drew on not just the physical aspect of the sport, but it drew and thrived off of the creativity of the sport. Kickboxing thrived not just by having a good, rock ‘em, sock ‘em product, but by molding fighters into larger-than-life characters that played off of their personalities. It thrived by created narratives for each and every fight to appeal to fans and didn’t rely on fighters to sell their own fights. Kickboxing helped to build these fighters into box office and television attractions and was never left with cards that delivered in action but drew no eyes.
So my answer to the question that is floating around right now as to “Why aren’t fans attracted to kickboxing?” Simple, nobody is doing anything to make fans care.
On March 6th, Daniel Ghita will take on Hesdy Gerges in the main event of It's Showtime Sporthallen Zuid. This is the second in a two-part series where I will lay out the keys to victory for each fighter. Today, we'll look at Hesdy Gerges. You can find the first part of this series here.
Athleticism - Hesdy is the taller and slimmer fighter and he'll have to use that to his advantage against Daniel. Gerges doesn't carry the kind of knockout power that Daniel does in his hands or kicks so he will have to rely on his ability to put combinations together and move in and out of Ghita's range to avoid his big punches and leg kicks. There are times in the past where Daniel has tired in the later rounds of a fight so that's somewhere Hesdy can capitalize if his stamina keeps up.
Range - When a fighter has a reach advantage and has the ability utilize it to their advantage, they often control the standup and dictate the pace. This is an area where Gerges can really control Ghita if he can enforce his will. If Hesdy can keep Ghita at the end of his jab, straight right, and leg kicks, it will pay big dividends as the fight progresses.
Kicks - Though not as devastating as Ghita's kicks, Gerges' kicks are effective and have won him fights in the past. Daniel's legs are like mighty Redwood trees and very durable but well placed kicks will have negative effects on any fighter if they are landed repeatedly. With Ghita relying on his kicks as much as he does, if Hesdy can slow them down even a little bit, that's a big plus for him.
Size - It sounds odd to list size as a weakness for the taller fighter but Gerges doesn't carry a lot of mass. Mass that can go a long way in absorbing the brutal body kicks and punches that Ghita brings to the table. We saw what those dangerous strikes did to Gokhan Saki in the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Quarterfinals. Saki's body was so wrecked that he could not continue for more than a moment against Alistair Overeem in the semifinals. This makes Gerges being able to stay out of Ghita's range even more important.
Complacency - When you have nearly half of your wins by way of decision, it can be argued that you should place a bigger emphasis on finishing a fight. Of course, there are a lot of tough fighters out there and you can't finish every fight by brutal KO, but allow a fighter of Daniel Ghita's caliber to hang around and it can cost you in a big way.
Keys to Victory:
For Hesdy Gerges to go home victorious on March 6th, he'll need to use his reach to stay outside of Daniel's range, pepper him with shots, and wear him down. A knockout is always a possibility in kickboxing but with Ghita only being finished by KO once in his career, I wouldn't rely on that. Hesdy needs to avoid Ghita's leg kicks in the early stages of the fight when Daniel is fresh and carrying big power in his legs.
If Hesdy Gerges can apply this gameplan against Daniel Ghita, I believe he can be victorious on March 6th.
Who are you picking to win? Leave me a comment and explain why.
UFC 141 kicks off on Friday, December 30th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. In a fight that will setup the #1 contender for Junior Dos Santos's heavyweight title, Brock Lesnar takes on Alistair Overeem in the main event of the evening. Several online sites, including Ladbrokes Poker, have released odds on this fight for those looking to place a few wagers on the fights.
Lesnar is coming into this fight as a huge underdog. Overeem has two inches in height and nearly seven times the fight experience of his opponent. Overeem is almost a more well rounded fighter. Bookmakers are taking this into consideration as all of them betting on Overeem. Bodog currently has the best odds out of the three coat -190 for Overeem and +155 for Lesnar.
The only other fight to receive any line action on the card is the light heavyweight battle between 26-5 Valdimir Matyushenko and 12-1 Alexander Gustaffson. Gustaffson has 5 inches on his opponent and is much stronger in his submission game. While not as experienced a fighter as Matyushenko, odds makers are giving Gustaffson the advantage. Online poker room Ladbrokes Poker has him at 1/3 to win with Matyushenko at 12/5. Gustaffson is -290 on BetOnline vs Matyushenko at +245.
While the lines may not have much action on the other fights, the undercard on this one has some solid match-ups. Lightweights Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone battle in an attempt to jockey for position to face Frankie Edgar for his lightweight title. Johnny Hendricks puts his 11-1 record on the line against 26-3-1 JonFitch. Nam Phan broke a three loss losing streak in October and looks to improve his 17-10 record against undefeated Jimy Hettes.
On December 30th, Junior Dos Santos will find out whether he will defend his title against Brock Lesnar or if Alistair Overeem will get his shot at heavyweight gold. Don't miss this one. It should be a helluva night of fights.