In February of 2014, Alistair Overeem faced Frank Mir in a matchup of two highly paid fights that could have been released with another defeat. Overeem lost previous fights against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne in brutalizing fashion. The aura behind a once-dominant heavyweight had vanished. A convincing performance against Mir secured his spot in the UFC. The victory proved to be a crucial first step in his recovery. It took a more patient approach and strategic game plans to rebuild one of the most decorated strikers in MMA history.

After getting knocked out by Ben Rothwell, Overeem bounced back and won four consecutive fights. Training at Jackson Wink MMA Academy made him a more cerebral fighter. It helped him overcome notable weaknesses such as his questionable chin and conditioning. He nearly beat Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title, before getting overpowered.

That forced him to get back on the road to redemption. Facing an enraged Mark Hunt and suffering from food poisoning made this journey even more difficult. As the Dutch superstar proved once again, he is capable of beating the odds and coming out on top in remarkable fashion.

Well-executed game plan

Despite his sketchy record, Hunt presents a tough matchup for every heavyweight on the roster. The Super Samoan possesses world class striking, a career altering left hook, improved takedown defense, and incredible durability. This was going to be a daunting task for Overeem. How is he going to fare against the hardest hitter in the Heavyweight Division?

A combination of frequent leg kicks and timely clinches benefited the former Strikeforce champion. To keep Hunt from finding a rhythm, Overeem showed excellent movement and landed a plethora of different kicks.

When Overeem fought at kickboxing range, he was in complete control. It became apparent that his coaches emphasized a more conservative Game Plan to cope with Hunt's scary power.

Responding from adversity

Not everything went smoothly. Hunt landed a devastating counter elbow that nearly ended the fight. Overeem admitted to being wobbled in the UFC post-fight press conference. Unlike in previous fights, he showed excellent poise to stay upright. That allowed him to regain his composure and continue wearing down Hunt.

Overeem didn't waste time in the third round. Trying to stay in boxing range wasn't ideal. He needed to get back to his roots of clinching and throwing those notorious knees. Nobody throws better knee strikes than Overeem. He controlled Hunt against the fence, before landing one knee to earn the knockout victory.

Legacy

On a lackluster night, Overeem's fantastic performance deserves more recognition. To vomit profusely the night before and fight at a high level is remarkable. He face planted one of the most durable fighters in MMA history.

No other heavyweight can claim that achievement.

In an era of heavyweights pulling out of major fights and failing drug tests, Overeem remains as one of the few reliable top-level fighters left. Transitioning from a hulking, menacing one-dimensional destroyer to a leaner, more calculated striker has been very beneficial. Opponents can't rely on him gassing out or becoming overconfident any longer. Overeem is finding different ways to win in jaw-dropping fashion. It's one of the main reasons why his once-tarnished reputation is nothing more than a blemish on a Hall Of Fame career.

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