Alistair Overeem lost for the third time in four fights on Friday night at UFC Fight Night 50, suffering a first round TKO loss to Ben Rothwell, but the former K-1, DREAM and Strikeforce champion has vowed to continue fighting.
“Unfortunate turn of events!” Overeem wrote on his Twitter page. “No damage.. And will be back in the gym soon to improve. Spirit is still high. Thanks fans for your support!”
The “No damage” part is certainly up for debate. Overeem was rocked at least twice by Rothwell en-route to being finished, and while he may not have suffered any cuts or broken bones, you have to wonder what kind of toll that takes on his brain.
A TKO loss isn’t the end of the world, but what’s particularly troubling about it in “The Reem’s’ case is that he’s already taken a great deal of brain trauma over the course of his 15 year fighting career.
A quick look at the record books show that he’s been cleanly knocked out seven times over the span of both his MMA and Kickboxing careers, while also suffering an additional five TKO’s. In total he’s been stopped due to strikes nine times in his MMA career alone – the most of any fighter currently under contract with the UFC.
There was a time when when he was getting KO’d even as a light-heavyweight, so a permanent move up to heavyweight in 2007 looked like a risky strategy, but despite a shaky start with a KO loss to Sergei Kharitonov, he did manage to find success there thanks partly to an improved defensive guard to help protect his fragile chin.
However, in the last couple of years his biggest weakness has come back to haunt him, with two knockout defeats in the space of seven months last year being a major cause for concern, while his only victory this year came about by abandoning his traditional striking based game-plan altogether against Frank Mir.
Clearly Overeem still feels he has something to offer though at the age of 34, but it remains to be seen if the UFC will feel the same way.
‘The Reem’ is still a big name in the sport, so there may well be a temptation to keep him on-board despite a 1-3 recent record often being enough to signal a fighter’s exit from the UFC’s roster. The heavyweight star doesn’t come cheap though, pocketing a little over $285,000 even in defeat at UFC Fight Night 50 – a basic salary that would have ramped up to over $400,000 if he won – making him one of the highest paid stars in the promotion.