The featured prelim at UFC 225 saw a heavyweight clash between MMA legend Alistair Overeem and exciting newcomer Curtis Blaydes.
There were so many great fights on the main card that a bunch of matches you’d normally expect to be on it were buried in the prelims, including this scrap between two top-ranked heavyweights.
Despite Overeem being ranked 2nd and Blaydes being ranked 4th in their division, they found themselves having to make way for other matchups on the main card. Matchups that included CM Punk vs Mike Jackson.
While some people might have taken that as a snub, Overeem said that he understood the UFC’s decision to put the ex-professional wrestler on the main card.
“People are seeing that as an insult, while I’m just seeing it as there’s probably a business rationale behind that,” Overeem said beforehand.
It also meant that he would be fighting earlier in the evening, which The Reem said he preferred anyway.
“It’s all good with me. To be honest, I perform better the earlier in the evening. If it’s all the way at midnight, I have to fight at midnight, I hate that anyways. If I’m fighting at 6 p.m., that’s perfect for me. Let me fight at 6 p.m. or even 4 p.m. I prefer fighting at 11 a.m.”
The Dutchman praised his opponent’s cardio beforehand, calling him ‘very fit’, but he thought that he could crack the riddle that is Curtis Blaydes.
“Curtis is very fit, he’s going to come with his plan. Personally, I love deciphering people and just studying what they’re doing…I’m confident, I’m ready and let’s get it on.”
With both men ranked so high, the winner here knew that they would be very close to a title shot although Overeem said that he’d need to get a couple of wins under his belt before challenging for the belt again.
“I’m ranked No. 2 in the heavyweights (in the UFC’s official rankings),” Overeem said. “I’m figuring with a couple wins, maybe that title. Couple of wins first.”
For his part, Blaydes was absolutely loving his rise up the heavyweight rankings and said that he was enjoying ‘figuring it all out’.
“It’s fun. Every day’s a new day. I’m still figuring it all out. I never know what to expect,” Blaydes said beforehand.
The veteran Overeem came into this one as an underdog at $2.50 while Blaydes was paying $1.53 to get the win.
It was a cagey affair, to begin with; both men used feints and tried to get their timing. Blaydes secured the takedown after about three minutes and kept him there for the rest of the round.
The Reem began to open up in the second and clipped Blaydes with a couple of good shots. That caused the Chicago native to go back to his wrestling; he secured another couple of takedowns and did just enough to keep the fight on the ground.
Blaydes came out strong in the third, clipping Overeem with a couple of good headshots before taking him down again.
From there, he really upped the intensity and went to work, peppering Overeem with some hard ground-n-pound before finishing him with a series of absolutely brutal elbows.
That win surely puts Blaydes in line for a title shot against the winner of Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier next month.