In the final bout of the evening to effectively cap off three action-packed UFC events across nine days, the heavyweights took center stage for a matchup that feels like it was originally announced months ago. The circumstances that surround the prolonged postponement of this matchup are, to anyone that is even remotely in touch with news around the sport, well known at this point. A moving tribute surely enough, and what is certainly an incredibly emotional return for Harris. Would ‘The big ticket’ be able to notch the biggest win in his career in honor his daughter, Aniah? Or would the man known simply as ‘The Reem’ make it 3 wins out of 4, in his 64th professional bout?
The quiet before the proverbial storm is always an unnerving process when world-class heavyweights begin to stalk their prey, and the opening moments of this main event felt no different. Patiently waiting to pick their shots, both men circled waiting for a moment to pounce. Overeem began pumping out low kicks to the calf of Harris, with Harris returning fire Overeem’s way with a snapping jab. In the blink of an eye, Harris suddenly connected with a big one-two combination that sent Overeem to the floor. Overeem badly cut, and facing a familiar type of adversity early on as Harris looked to pile on a fight-ending flurry of ground and pound. The fight was dangerously close to being stopped. Fortunately for Overeem, the action would ultimately resume and in a split second, would begin to change.
Overeem, with the help of a timely kick off the body of Harris, provided a timely opportunity to escaped out from underneath and back to the feet. Overeem, busted open above the left eye and already leaking considerable amounts of blood, had survived the early storm, or so it seemed. Overeem would use this opportunity in a scramble to almost reverse the same position Harris was pouring on shots from just moments prior. With nearly half the round to work, the Dutch Kickboxer would begin to start softening up Harris with consistent punches from behind. Harris, while making a solid effort to get his body is close to the fence as he could, offered very little resistance from underneath Overeem. He would spend most of the entire latter half of the round crunched up against the fence, seemingly waiting for the horn to send each guy back to the stool.
In round two, more of that early fight patience was exerted on both sides. Both guys having moments of near fight-ending ramifications, just one round prior– the mental chess match was on as to who would make the first move. Harris began to pump out a light jab, and in the blink of an eye a head kick from Overeem connected, with a follow-up right hand on the back and that sent Harris back to the canvas. From that point forward, Overeem would seemingly struggle on his preferred method of victory, pondering the submission and even looking to lock in a choke multiple times with Harris flattened out underneath him. Ultimately, Overeem would decide to go the Technical knockout path, pounding Harris out with enough unanswered shots to prompt the referee’s intervention. A huge win for Alistair Overeem, just a dozen or so minutes before the clock would strike midnight for his 40th birthday.