He got off to a bit of a rocky start against Tyrone Spong in the quarterfinals, but looked much better in the semifinals against Gokhan Saki, and by the time he faced off with K-1 legend Peter Aerts in the finals, “Ubereem” was in full effect.
Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem has a side job when he is not defending his title as one of professional mixed martial arts’ top heavyweights – he fights. Just for kicks (and punches), Overeem decided a couple years ago that in addition to being one of the best MMA fighters in the world, he wanted to become one of the best K-1 fighters in the world.
And as of tonight, Overeem has accomplished what no other fighter ever has, by holding the K-1 title and a major MMA title at the same time. We often hear how the majority of MMA fighters do not have elite level striking. Overeem shatters that stereotype and has proven to the world he is among the very best in both sports.
There were some moments during his quarterfinal bout with Spong when Overeem seem to have trouble keeping the “MMA Overeem” separate from the “K-1 Overeem”. In K-1, fighters are only allowed to use one hand to clinch their opponent behind the neck when striking, as opposed to MMA where a Muay Thai Clinch (plum position) is commonplace.
The bout was briefly stopped twice as Overeem was warned by the referee to stop striking his opponent while clinching him behind the neck with both hands. Even then, Overeem continued to do it a few times and appeared to have to consciously stop himself in the middle of the technique on other occasions.
He also took some big shots from an aggressive Spong in what was the first fight of the night for both men. Spong seemingly had Overeem rocked early on and it took awhile for the Dutchman to get over it and get to the point where he could start firing back effective shots. Even then, he seemed a bit tentative, his accuracy was not great and his punches lacked their normal heat.
Spong began to slow down in round two as more and more of Overeem’s shots found their target. Spong took round one but Overeem kept getting stronger as Spong faded and ended up taking the bout via unanimous decision.
Gokhan Saki had an amazing quarterfinal bout against Daniel Ghita which moved him into the semifinals against Overeem. Although much smaller than Overeem, Saki’s technique is flawless and his speed is mind-blowing. However, he had a badly swollen eye and took some hard body shots in his bout with Ghita.
It did not take long for Overeem to locate Saki’s wounded mid-section. He focused on it blasting him with knees, kicks and punches and in less than three minutes the fight was stopped and Overeem advanced to the finals to face “The Dutch Lumberjack”.
Practically no one would have guessed 40-year-old Peter Aerts would make it to the finals. In one of the best and most surprising fights of the night, Aerts took it to Semmy Schilt by getting in his face, keeping the pressure on and never giving him enough distance to let him get off with those long limbs.
A first round TKO over Mighty Mo and a majority decision over Schilt put Aerts in the finals standing toe-to-toe with “Ubereem”. It was the old guard vs. the new. Aerts began his professional kickboxing career in 1988 with a decision loss to Ernesto Hoost, another legend of the sport. Since, then Aerts has gone on to win a ton of titles including three K-1 World Grand Prix Championships. They don’t call him “Mr. K-1” for nothing.
However, tonight “Mister K-1” met “Master K-1”. Overeem and Aerts actually met last year at the 2009 World Grand Prix Final 16, where Overeem won via unanimous decision. Overeem then went on to win his quarterfinal bout but was knocked out by Badr Hari in the semifinals.
This year Overeem would not be denied. Having already defeated Aerts last year had to give Overeem an extreme amount of confidence. There was no going to a decision this time around. Aerts brought the fight best he could, but the “Ubereem” had awaken and he bombarded the old man with explosive hooks and crosses to the head and body. The power was too much for the rugged veteran of 128 professional fights and early in round one the referee stepped in to save him as he stumbled around the ring crashing into the ropes.
All hail the “Ubereem”, the Strikeforce heavyweight champion and the newly-crowned 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion!
Check out the full results and details of the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix here: K-1 World Grand Prix Final 2010 live results, commentary.