Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight knockout artists Alistair Overeem and Sergey Pavlovich will collide this Saturday (Nov. 24, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 141 inside Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China.
Overeem’s last two fights have both ended in brutal knockout losses for Heavyweight legend, adding onto a long career of damage that’s a bit uncomfortable to talk about. In fact, you probably have to go back to his 2016 victory over Andrei Arlovski to find an Overeem fight that — win or lose — he was not badly rocked or dropped. Nevertheless, Overeem continues, and he does so as a Top 5 Heavyweight. Because of those losses, Overeem will receive a step back in competition against Pavlovich, but it’s unclear just how far back a step it is. The Russian wrestler is undefeated as a professional, a decade younger than his opponent, and his finished nine of his opponents via knockout.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 43-17 (1)
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 213, Strikeforce: Overeem vs Werdum), Junior dos Santos (UFC on FOX 17), Brock Lesnar (UFC 141), Mark Hunt (UFC 209, Dream 5)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 203), Francis Ngannou (UFC 218), Curtis Blaydes (UFC 225), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 50)
Keys to Victory: Overeem has gone through many phases in his lengthy career, differing up his style based on opponent and his own ever-shifting size. The last couple years saw the rise and fall of “Econo-Reem,” a man who ran about the cage avoiding the pocket and looked to catch opponents off-guard as they chased.
After his consecutive losses, however, Overeem has changed camps (again) to Elevation Fight Team in Colorado, training with Curtis Blaydes, the last man to beat him (who is also featured in Saturday’s main event). It will be very interesting to see how Overeem changes his style as a result. At any rate, Overeem faces a straightforward challenge here. Pavlovich is a dangerous wrestler with heavy hands and a solid amount of aggression behind him. Nothing Overeem hasn’t seen before, but also something that has definitely knocked him out.
Pavlovich is not an amazing striker: he stands square and has no real distance offense, simply pushing forward behind power shots. As such, Overeem should be able to do major damage with his range kicks, and any snap kick to the torso should push Pavlovich far off him. When Overeem can control the distance, he wins fights, and he should be able to do so here.
Key Wins: Kirill Sidelnikov (Fight Nights Global 79), Mikhail Mokhnatkin (Fight Nights Global 68)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Pavlovich is a serious prospect for the Heavyweight division. He’s young, capable on the feet and mat, and can push a solid pace for a big man — that probably already places him in the Top 15. In addition, much of his experience comes against quality competition in Fight Nights Global, a promotion where he held the belt.
The biggest key to defeating Overeem is really patience. There’s no doubt who the more durable man is or who a one-to-one exchange of punches favors. The flaw many of Overeem’s foes make is trying to rush their way into an exchange, at which point Overeem snipes them before they ever get to land their share.
Overeem’s defense lapses. If Pavlovich can calmly stalk him, keeping his eyes open both for the hard strikes coming from Overeem and his own opportunities to land, the odds are high that Overeem will at some point walk himself into the fence or over-extend. Pavlovich only needs to connect a couple times, so he should pick his moments to explode carefully.
Bottom Line: This is an excellent fight hidden on an obscure card.
I don’t want to call this Overeem’s last stand — Arlovski has proven that UFC will let its established Heavyweights lose a dozen times with little consequence. Nevertheless, Overeem is too deep in his career to be losing three-straight, particularly if he’s on the wrong end of another knockout loss. At some point, something has got to give, and each fight makes it more and more likely that Overeem’s long-term health is that “something.”
Nevertheless, expect UFC to throw Overeem in the cage with a Top 10-ranked foe if he wins.
As for Pavlovich, this is still a major opportunity even if only a handful of people see it. Overeem is currently ranked sixth in the world, so for Pavlovich to defeat him in his debut would be huge. It would instantly jump him into the Top 10, and Heavyweight is so desperate for new blood, he’d be within a win or two of the UFC title.
At UFC Fight Night 141, Alistair Overeem and Sergey Pavlovich will square off in the co-main event. Which Heavyweight will score the knockout?