This Friday night at UFC 141 history will be made. Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem provides not only an interesting clash of styles, but an interesting clash of championships and ideologies. Brock Lesnar’s background is of course American wrestling, but he is most well-known for his tenure as a professional wrestler. Lesnar brings an unprecedented amount of personality, intensity and fanfare to his fights compared to other fighters in the UFC. On the other hand, Alistair Overeem represents Dutch Kickboxing and is one of the few holdouts in the world of International MMA who has been considered “the best” without being under a UFC contract.
In a way, for a lot of fans it seems to be a classic case of the pro wrestling dichotomy of “heel” against “face,” or bad guy against good guy. What is funny is, for different fans there seems to be differing opinions as to who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. For many, Brock Lesnar, whose professional careers have been marred by indecision and lack of passion, Lesnar is ironically a symbol of modern MMA. He is a company man and a representative for the modern UFC fighter. Lesnar went to the UFC as soon as he could in his career and has been facing competition that is without a doubt considered the very best in the world. These people view Alistair Overeem as another Fedor Emelianenko figure; a fighter who many fans believe to be one of the best in the world, but chose to compete outside of the UFC for as long as possible, thus he remained unchallenged against UFC’s crop of fighters.
The other side of the fence tends to view Lesnar as the professional wrestler who invaded MMA and has brought along his antics, attitude and pro wrestling fans. Alistair Overeem, on the other hand, is the two-sport champion who has seen success not only in Mixed Martial Arts but within K-1. Alistair Overeem in 2010 won the K-1 World Grand Prix, one of the striking world’s most prestigious tournaments, then went ahead and won the DREAM Heavyweight Champion. All the while, he was the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. What decorates Overeem even more is when he defeated Fabricio Werdum in Strikeforce this year he won the mythical Linear Heavyweight Championship. The Linear Championship is not sanctioned by anyone or recognized, but for fans it dates back to when UFC first established a Heavyweight Championship. Randy Couture lost this title to Enson Inoue in 1998, and since then the title has been outside of the UFC. Overeem’s first fight in the UFC will bring back that Linear Heavyweight Championship, and the winner of this fight will possibly unite that championship with the current UFC Heavyweight Championship.
The point here is that Overeem has accomplished as much as he possibly could outside of the UFC, and him joining the UFC signifies his willingness to take that next step. For many, Alistair Overeem is a symbol. Overeem existed outside of the societal norm that was the UFC and began stacking up accolades and crushing everyone that was set before him. Alistair Overeem is literally one of the last heroes in the Mixed Martial Arts world who has yet to be tested within the UFC.
Not only will this fight have serious ramifications on the current UFC Heavyweight title picture, but for history it pits the former pro-wrestler-turned-UFC Champion against the man who conquered the world of Kickboxing as well as the non-UFC world of MMA. This fight brings the Linear Heavyweight Championship back to the UFC for the first time since 1998 and also will be the only time in history that the current K-1 World Grand Prix Champion has stepped into a UFC ring.