Skip to main content
Athletes

The 10: Alistair Overeem's Greatest Hits

'The Demolition Man' Returns February 6 Against Alexander Volkov. Get Ready With Some Vintage Performances.

Alistair Overeem was just 23 years old, a light heavyweight, wielding a big wooden hammer before every fight as “The Demolition Man.” But even then, as a 16-3 prospect on the rise getting ready to face Chuck Liddell in PRIDE’s 2003 205-pound Grand Prix, his philosophy on fighting was one he carries with him to the present day.

“To win a fight is awesome on its own, but to finish a fight before the official time limit by way of KO is indescribable,” he said back then. “I’m a true believer that a fight can be decided by one punch, one kick or one knee. You just have to be patient, wait for that right moment and of course have the abilities to do so.”

Watch Overeem vs Volkov February 6 With Your ESPN+ Subscription

Nearly two decades since that comment, Overeem has gone on to move to the heavyweight division, win the Strikeforce and Dream heavyweight titles in MMA and the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix in kickboxing, and on February 6, he will step into the UFC Octagon for the 20th time as he continues his quest for more championship gold against Alexander Volkov. It’s been quite a ride so far, as you will see below.

Alistair Overeem Entering the Arena during Pride Grand Prix 2005 - Final Round - Match - August 28,2005 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Saitama Super Arena, Japan. (Photo by Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images)
Alistair Overeem Entering the Arena during Pride Grand Prix 2005 - Final Round - Match - August 28,2005 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Saitama Super Arena, Japan. (Photo by Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images)

Vitor Belfort I – April 23, 2005 – PRIDE Total Elimination 2005

Result – Overeem Wsub1 

Following a knockout loss to Liddell in 2003, Overeem won two fights outside of PRIDE before returning to the promotion in 2004 with a TKO of Hiromitsu Kanehara. Four months later, he would drop a decision to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, putting his PRIDE slate at 3-2 and making him the perfect foil for the return of Vitor Belfort, who was fresh off a five fight stint in the UFC in which he won and lost the light heavyweight title against Randy Couture. Overeem didn’t play along though, and he was far from rattled by the level of opposition or the magnitude of the fight. Instead, he showed off solid striking, good defense off his back, and after rocking “The Phenom” with a knee, he fired off a series of ground strikes before sinking in a guillotine choke and forcing a tap out. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Badr Hari I – December 31, 2008 – Dynamite 2008

Result – Overeem KO1

Having periodically dabbled in kickboxing since 1999, Overeem began to take it more seriously in the latter part of the last decade, and his first major bout in that realm of combat sports was against one of the most feared men in the game, Badr Hari. And if you want to talk about statement making wins, this was it. Confident from the start, Overeem sent Hari down for the first time with a lightning-fast left knee followed by a short left hook that you will miss if you blink. Hari made it back to his feet, but a second left hook finished him off, and now Overeem wasn’t just dangerous in MMA, he was about to make some serious noise in kickboxing.

Alistair Overeem (white shorts) and Brock Lesnar (red shorts) struggle against the Octagon fence during the UFC 141 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC)
Smashing Lesnar in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC)

Brett Rogers – May 15, 2010 – Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery

Result – Overeem TKO1

Despite Overeem’s wins over top-notch talents like Belfort, after three consecutive PRIDE losses to Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, it was clear that for him to truly make a mark in MMA, he would have to do it as a heavyweight. In 2007, he made the full-time move to life among the big men and celebrated in November of that year by defeating Paul Buentello for the first Strikeforce heavyweight title. That San Jose bout was the last Stateside fans saw him in for two and a half years, so when he came back to face Brett Rogers in St. Louis, expectations were high, especially since the raw but heavy-handed Rogers gave Fedor Emelianenko a solid fight before getting finished in the second round. Rogers wouldn’t be so lucky against Overeem, who needed just 3:40 to send “The Grim” packing. Now the speculation would begin in earnest about how Overeem would fare in the UFC. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Peter Aerts II – December 11, 2010 – K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final

Result – Overeem KO1

A month before the Rogers bout, Overeem put all his cards on the table and began a journey not many believed he could complete – competing in and winning the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix. Yet by December, wins over Dzevad Poturak and Ben Edwards landed him in the final leg of the tournament. To win, Overeem would have to win three times in one night, and amazingly he did just that, decisioning Tyron Spong, halting Gokhan Saki, and then capping off this unlikely run with a 67 second stoppage of kickboxing legend Peter Aerts. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Alistair Overeem (C) of the Netherlands celebrates after his third-round knockout of Mark Hunt of Australia in a heavyweight bout during UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena on March 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Alistair Overeem (C) of the Netherlands celebrates after his third-round knockout of Mark Hunt of Australia in a heavyweight bout during UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena on March 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Todd Duffee – December 31, 2010 – Dynamite 2010

Result – Overeem KO1

You figure three K-1 fights in one night would have earned Overeem a nice holiday break. Uh-uh. Instead, he accepted a New Year’s Eve bout against UFC vet Todd Duffee for the Dream heavyweight crown. He described his December to remember earlier this year before his Strikeforce win over Fabricio Werdum.

“We fought in the final 16 in October, came back home, took a week off to recover, then we went back to Japan in November to do a media tour, which was like 10 days,” said Overeem. “Then we went back home, before going to Thailand for a two-week training camp, then from Thailand to Japan for the K-1 finals, won three fights, and then there was a lot of media stuff afterward, a lot of television shows. Then a new opportunity came to fight for the Dream heavyweight title and we grabbed it with both hands. That was December 31. I was gone for six weeks, I came home with two belts, four fights, and a lot of new experience.”

Yeah, he won that fight with Duffee, needing only 19 seconds to do so.

Brock Lesnar – December 30, 2011 – UFC 141

Result – Overeem TKO1

The expectations were high for Overeem’s UFC debut against former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, not just from the fans, but from the man himself. “This is the biggest fight ever and I can only be excited,” he said. “Brock is a dream match, I think the fans will agree on that, and I never thought the fight would be possible because I was outside of the UFC, and now that I’m in the UFC, I’m just so excited.”  Overeem didn’t stick around long, though, as he halted Lesnar in a little less than two and a half minutes. “The Reem” has arrived. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Alistair Overeem punches Junior dos Santos in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Amway Center on December 19, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
At war with JDS, December 19, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Junior Dos Santos – December 19, 2015 – UFC on FOX

Result – Overeem TKO2

Originally scheduled to meet in 2012, the bout with JDS instead wound up taking place in late 2015. It had been a wild ride in the meantime for Overeem, as the win over Lesnar was followed by a run in which he only managed a 3-3 record in the Octagon. A second-round TKO of Dos Santos truly got him back on track, and after one more victory over Andrei Arlovski, he would be in with heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Mark Hunt – March 4, 2017 – UFC 209

Result – Overeem KO3

A loss to Miocic was disappointing for Overeem and his fans, but six months later he was back in the hunt, pardon the pun, as he made it two for two over “The Super Samoan,” stopping Hunt with knees in the third round. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Alistair Overeem (L) of the Netherlands consoles Walt Harris of the United States after their Heavyweight bout during UFC Fight Night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 16, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
An emotional night vs Harris, May 16, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Sergei Pavlovich – November 24, 2018 – UFC Fight Night

Result – Overeem TKO1

Back-to-back knockout losses at the hands of Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes in 2017-18 had many wondering if Overeem’s best days were behind him. But after a change of training scenery put him in Colorado, where he worked with former foe Blaydes and the Elevation Fight Team, he got the call to face unbeaten Sergei Pavlovich in China. Well, reports of Overeem’s demise were greatly exaggerated, as he took less than a round to hand Pavlovich his first loss and put himself right back where he needed to be. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Walt Harris – May 16, 2020 – UFC on ESPN

Result – Overeem TKO2

It didn’t look good for Overeem last May when he got rocked and nearly stopped by Walt Harris early in their bout in Florida. But with veteran resilience, Overeem got out of trouble and then smoothly took control of the bout, ultimately scoring a second-round stoppage of “The Big Ticket”. (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)