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Is Alistair Overeem the Lebron James of MMA?

Read ahead as Five Ounces of Pain‘s Nick Halili compares Overeem to James based on not only athletic prowess, but in regards to questions surrounding the success of both…

Freak athlete. Physical specimen. Unstoppable force. These are words often used to describe reigning NBA MVP Lebron James. There is no one in basketball that can match his rare combination of strength, size, skill, and explosiveness. In MMA, the same can be said when talking about 6’5”, 260 lb. powerhouse Alistair Overeem. Once a lanky light-heavyweight back in the heyday of the PRIDE Fighting Championships, the 30-year-old has transformed himself into a comic book superhero come to life and has dominated opponents for the past three years, never once needing to go to the judges in any of these victories.

Just as James does things on the basketball court no other player on earth can do, Overeem does things other heavyweights can only dream of. Who else in MMA can both toss 265 lb. behemoth, Brett Rogers around like a sack of potatoes and also come close to leaping out of the cage while attempting a flying knee to the head of 6’4” James Thompson? What other fighter has both beaten some of the greatest heavyweight kickboxers in the world in K-1 and has also won grappling tournaments at the elite level in ADCC? There can be only one: the man known as “The Reem.” Many MMA fans say that he is the one to supplant Fedor Emelianenko as the greatest heavyweight the sport has ever seen. Bas Rutten has already declared that he is the #1 heavyweight in MMA.

However, like “King James,” there are questions that surround Overeem despite his otherworldly physical abilities. Just as Lebron’s heart has sometimes been questioned when up against championship-caliber teams in the playoffs, fans wonder if Alistair can defeat an elite heavyweight such as Fedor Emelianenko who can put him to the test. During his current dominant run, he has not even gone to the second round in an MMA fight since his victory against Paul Buentello over three years ago, and has not had to show that he can come back from adversity in a fight. As a younger fighter, he had often wilted under the pressure against highly-ranked opponents such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Noguiera.

Overeem’s critics also say that, although he does indeed possess the Strikeforce heavyweight title, he has not truly earned a top ranking in MMA because of the level of opponents he has fought to en route to that title. They assert that his outstanding achievements is K-1 kickboxing, where he recently knocked out legend Peter Aerts to become the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, are not valid in any way when trying to rank him in MMA. These criticisms often mirror those that plague Lebron James. His Cleveland Cavalier teams have often crushed lesser teams and consistently had one of the best regular season records in the league. However, when faced with elite opposition in the playoffs, he has faltered. And just like Lebron’s scoring titles in basketball, Overeem’s kickboxing titles display a skill that is only one facet of MMA.

Ultimately, is it an insult or a compliment for “The Demolition Man” to be compared to “The Akron Hammer”? At this point, it is too soon to tell for either athlete. Both have the raw physical ability to be the best in the world in their respective sports. However, both have yet to possess the actual achievements to validate their incredible potential. At the highest levels of sports, it has been said that the difference between the very good and the champions is mental. Do either of these awe-inspiring athletes have the mental toughness to truly make them the greatest? Only time will tell. But for both of them, that time may be coming soon.

  • bigbadjohn says:


  • Niv says:

    I don’t really know about the comparison. The long list of accomplishments that AO has in fight sports is amazing. The K1 Championship, ADCC and MMA success is amazing, how he can still be doubted is beyond belief.

    I think he is without a doubt one of the best HW’s on earth and could beat anyone on any given day, though I still think Fedor holds that crown for the moment still.

    I don’t know anything about basketball so I can’t say too much other than it’s a team sport so you can only blame one player so much.

    I hope we get to see Overeem vs Fedor, and Werdum this year. Those would be epic fights, but I know regardless of how any of those fights go, none of those guys will be given their due. There’ll be a three page list explaining how each guy cancels each others achievements out and how they need to step up to the big league.

    No winning on this issue.

  • Rece Rock says:

    I think Overeem can beat Fedor… matter of fact i think he could TKO Fedor.

    Not a big Reem fan but I think if there’s any SF HW who should hold the strap it’s him. Just wish he would defend more often. After the destruction of Rogers he should have been in the cage again 2 mos. later. Whose to blame though?? SF ? him? Fedor? they all are to blame for this circle jerk.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Only if Lebron is juiced to his eyeballs.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    the only ego that could compete with Lebron in MMA is Dana. Fighters more or less are humble. Alistair, from all accounts, is likeable and relatively quiet in person.

  • LiverPunch says:

    Perhaps he is the Tiger Woods of MMA. Only because he keeps screwing everyone. He screws Strikeforce, the fans and possible opponents out of fights. Just fight top opponents more often and then I will consider you the meaningless comparison to a guy in an entirely different type of team sport in the USA.
    Is Lebron James good?.
    Don’t see how you can blame Fedor Rece. Overeem didn’t want to fight in Strikeforce and instead fought in K1. Where you got Fedor was to blame is a mystery. The reason Overeem fights randomly and against who he does is entirely his fault. He turns down fights in SF more often than Joe Rogan tweets.

  • Outstanding read and one that brings up some good questions. Sadly they’ll never get answered cuz of his unwilligness to fight in mma in the us more than once every 2.5 years. and Niv Overeem and Fedor can be debated about, but if nothing else Werdum got KO’d back to the stone age by JDS only a couple years ago and knocked out of the big league

  • cocoonofhorror says:

    he is the Arnold Schwartzenidiot of MMA

  • Jak says:

    At first i was going to freak out about the title with a roll of the eyes.

    But then i thought about it, and it is somewhat correct, for all Lebron’s potential he’s never actually beat the best of the best, crushes crappy opponents and makes it look easy, and is considered the best without the actual resume to go with it. :)

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Again I have to point out that you are falling victim to a myth or just simply believing what you want to.
    Fabricio Werdum was 2-2 in the UFC winning against 2 guys that were top 10 UFC HWS and had both also fought for the UFC HW title in their previous fight. He lost to Arlovski when Arlovski was a top 5 in a boring decision and JDS after he was caught early with an upper cut that was heard around the world. THEN… even though he had 4 fights left on his contract the UFC demanded they renegotiate his contract, thats right, the UFC, like it often does, demanded that his contract be renegotiated and offered him half the money he had signed the contract for originally. He refused and the UFC said bye bye. A lot of you give M1 shit for renegotiating contracts but the UFC is far worse as was shown here. It happens all the time when the UFC has the upper hand, usually after a loss or poor performance. They have you by the balls and will give a little squeeze whenever they see the opportunity. Anyway I thought I would just point out that superdave.
    Back to the real topic here, I don’t think Overeem can even be considered a top 5 ranking really because he fails to fight top opponents such as Fedor, Barnett, BigFoot, Sylvia, Arlovski, Cormier, Monson and has loses to other top non-UFCers Werdum and Kharitonov. He has a few notable wins such as Rogers, Buentello, Fujita and Hunt but on stats and victories over top opponents that does not get him far up the ranks. Having said that I do think he is good enough to be the best but he hasn’t proven anything.
    So in conclusion. If Lebron was unable to play against half of the NBA and only played in it every 2 years against a few mid level teams whilst having a career in baseball in between, I think the comparison would work.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Alistair Overeem is the Steven Seagal of MMA. he might not be in the big-time flicks very often anymore but when he works a small show he rocks the shit out of them.

  • Wow…never seen so many people disagree with me. Oh well… As far as things go Logic, I know what you’re saying but Werdum had ZERO drawing power until he did what he did this last year. (stopping Fedor) He’s a good fighter for sure, but Gonzaga was owning him until he gassed, Brandon Vera’s stoppage was one of the worst in history and when you say he got caught by JDS you make it sound as if he was being competitive and just got clipped coming in. When what really happened is Jr came in and knocked him out cold with minimal effort. Werdum like others wanted to renogotiate for what he wasnt worth and in turn was canned. It sucks but it happens. And I will say this for both m1 and the UFC, at least they pay up, whereas Dream has a tendency to put the check “in the mail.”

    Awesome comparison on the article logic. Truly.

  • MCM says:

    I would give AO props for beating Werdum and Fedor, hell, I’d give him props for beating Big Foot. The guy does have all the talent in the world but still fights cans. Right now, I wouldn’t put Overeem in the top 10 in MMA, top 3 in K-1, but not MMA. Werdum, Fedor, Big Foot, possibly Barnett (although he’s debatable) are top 10 or 15. Duffee is not.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Oh no, not again.

    “I lost that fight against Cigano and everything changed,” Werdum explained. “I had a UFC contract, but lost it cause I refused when they wanted me to take a pay cut and there was no deal,”

    “When I first heard the rumors, I didn’t know anything,” Werdum told “I had four more fights left with [the UFC] on my contract, which ran to 2010. But they demanded to renegotiate my existing contract by cutting my pay in half.”

    Do you really think after he got Koed he thought it was time to renegotiate?. Come on Dave. The UFC offered him around half what he signed for after he lost. Yes Dos Santos KOed him with ease but Sokoudjou KOed Nog and Arona with ease too and Mercer KOed Sylvia with his first punch. What is your point?.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Hey liver punch – the reason I bring up Fedor is because in many interviews Reem has said M-1 and Fedor wee on the fence about facing him soo he decided to enter the K-1 tourney after he announced his participation is when Fedor & M-1 decided to say they would fight him… Sounds like ducking to me?!? I know there’s 2 sides to every story but I Sony ever believing anything M-1 or Fedor say ever… Shit they can’t even stick to legal contract what makes u think there word is any good.

  • LiverPunch says:

    Perhaps you should read the post above you where it talks about how the UFC “can’t even stick to legal contract” and tried to offer Werdum half what they signed him for. Funny that you never have trouble believing them. Perhaps when you twitter your mate Dana you could ask him why he did that.
    Overeem gets offered fights against other fighters besides Fedor and refuses them. Fedor is not involved but somehow in that brain of yours you find a way of blaming something you don’t like. Bravo sir. How the fuck can it be Fedor’s or M1’s fault that Overeem turns down fights against other fighters and Fedor like Bigfoot?.
    You are just one eyed to the max.
    No the reason you bought up Fedor is because you don’t like him, M1 or SF and try to blame them for anything that goes wrong even if it has nothing to do with them.
    So offering Overeem a fight in SF is ducking him? Hmmm I see. Perhaps Overeem could have fought Fedor instead of fighting Duffee Rece or maybe he could have fought his 2nd fight against a top 15 HW fighter ever instead. Just a thought. Since he said he didn’t want to fight anyone coming off a loss and then he does and against another lowly ranked fighter like Fujita, Thomson, Sylvester, Goodridge, Hyun and Hunt ,ya know all those top ranked fighters he has said yes to recently. Notice a pattern?. He said he didn’t want to fight Fedor when the fight was offered, he didn’t say yes but in Jan or Feb. He said no. Now that sounds like ducking too Rece. See it the way you want to but until Overeem mans up and fights more than 1 top 20 guy every 2 years and takes fights against top 10 guys when offered I think it is up for debate.


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