UFC 141: Lesnar vs Overeem
MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, December 30, 2011, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: pay-per-view
All odds courtesy of Bovada
For UFC’s annual New Year’s weekend show, they have one of the most anticipated cards of the year on tap to close out 2011. Superstar heavyweight Brock Lesnar returns to the octagon for the first time in 14 months, after battling serious health issues that involved surgery to remove part of his intestines. Many people thought Lesnar would never return and certainly not this soon. Lesnar takes on Dutch fighter Alistair Overeem in the main event of the card. Because New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year, Dana White and the other UFC promoters moved this card to Friday so people wouldn’t have to choose between watching this fantastic card or celebrating the New Year at parties or in night clubs. But honestly, I am sure most MMA fans would rather watch this card than drink cheap champagne while wearing paper hats and counting down to midnight.
Here is a look at the fights on the main card including the main event. All odds are courtesy of Bovada.
Nam Phan (-230) vs Jim “The Kid” Hettes (+180) – Featherweight Bout, Three Rounds
Nam Phan is 17-9 in his career as he takes on the 9-0 Jim Hettes Friday night. Phan suffered a bitter defeat in the Ultimate Fighter 12 finale against Leonard Garcia on a controversial decision. However, Phan avenged the defeat at UFC 136 with a unanimous decision. Phan used his hand speed and combinations in the second fight. Phan will likely use a similar strategy against Hettes. Phan, 28 from Garden Grove, California, needs to avoid takedowns, as his ground game isn’t the strongest. Phan does have experience and a strong chin though.
Hettes made his UFC debut in August. The 24 year old from Pennsylvania, has never gone to a third round in any fight. He has 5 submissions and 4 KO’s in 9 career bouts. Hettes is a jiu-jitsu specialist, and will be looking for a quick end to the fight. If it goes the distance, stamina could be an issue for Hettes.
Phan has sometimes struggled in close contact bouts, and needs to avoid getting trapped by the quick Hettes. In his 9 career losses, Phan has never been submitted, and most of his fights go the distance. If he stays on his feet, Phan should be happy to escape with a decision win.
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (-325) vs Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko (+250) – Light Heavyweight Bout, Three Rounds
Matyushenko is 26-5 in his career and 7-3 in UFC as he takes on the 12-1 (4-1 UFC) Gustafsson. The 40 year old Matyushenko, from Belarus is nearing the end of his career. This is his second go around with UFC, and he fought Tito Ortiz for the light heavyweight title at UFC 33 more than a decade ago in September 2001. In his current UFC run, he only has a loss to current champ Jon “Bones” Jones. The knock against Matyushenko is he isn’t that athletic, but he can be explosive. He beat Jason Brilz in 20 seconds at UFC 129. It was a little surprising for “The Janitor” because he is more known for his wrestling skills than the ground and pound that led to the stoppage.
Gustafsson is 24 and from Sweden. He has won 4 of his last 5 fights. His most impressive victory is over Matt Hamill at UFC 133 by TKO. Gustaffson used his movement and speed to avoid takedowns, and will try to do the same against Matyushenko.
Matyushenko will try to get the action on the ground as soon as possible, but Gustafsson’s ground game is underrated. The problem is order for the Belarusian to grapple, he needs to get close to the dangerous Swede, leaving Matyushenko open to strikes from Gustafsson. I think the Mauler wins by stoppage in the third.
Jon Fitch (-260) vs Johnny Hendricks (+200) – Welterweight Bout, Three Rounds
Fitch is 23-3-1 (13-1-1 UFC) in his career as he takes on Johnny Hendricks who is 11-1 (6-1 UFC) in a welterweight bout. Fitch is 33 from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He last fought at UFC 127 and underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. With dominant champion George St. Pierre on the shelf with a torn ACL, the welterweight division is wide open for the first time in years. The winner of this fight could be inline for a title shot in the future. Fitch has never really been the most exciting fighter, and his bland style has kept him from being considered a true contender for the welterweight title.
Hendricks is 28 and from Ada, Oklahoma. Like Fitch, he is a former collegiate wrestler. Fitch wrestled for Purdue, and Hendricks attended Oklahoma St. Hendricks was a 4 time All-American and two time national champion for the Cowboys. Both Fitch and Hendricks have wins over Mike Pierce, another wrestler. Both of those fights were close, and the Fitch-Hendricks bout could be as well. Both fighters defeated Pierce by decision.
Fitch will try to force clinches, and use the cage to try to force Hendricks down to the ground. Fitch isn’t the best athlete but he will wear down opponents with his determination, almost like a bulldog. Ironically, Hendricks best bet for this fight might to stay up, despite how good a wrestler he is. If he tries to grapple, Fitch will wear him down on the ground. Fitch isn’t that quick on his feet, and Hendricks can get in some strikes. I think Fitch will just keep attacking, and win a close decision. Hendricks has never faced an opponent as relentless at Fitch.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (-325) vs Nate Diaz (+250) – Lightweight Bout, Three Rounds
Donald Cerrone (17-3 overall, 4-0 UFC) goes for his 5th win of 2011 as he takes on veteran Nate Diaz (14-7 overall, 9-5 UFC). This has the potential to be a very entertaining fight. UFC gives out bonus checks on every card to the fighters who put on the most entertaining fight. These two have won a combined 10 “fight of the night” awards. A win for Cerrone, 28 from Colorado, would put the Cowboy in line for a title shot against lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.
Early in his career Cerrone would start out slowly, and it would cost him fights. Now, he has learned to be aggressive from the start, and hasn’t lost since he came over from World Extreme Cagefighting in late 2010.
Nate Diaz is 26, and from Stockton, California. He has competed at both the lightweight and welterweight divisions, but is probably better at 155 pounds. Nate has improved his style and has copied the style of his more successful brother Nick . Nate Diaz now mainly throws strikes at a rapid pace and stays a safe distance away from his opponent. However, Diaz isn’t afraid to get in close if he has to. Cerrone is the same way. Neither Cerrone or Diaz has ever succumbed to strikes, so this could be a slugfest. Cerrone is a Muay Thai national champion and Diaz is a jiu-jitsu specialist. I think Diaz will keep it close, But Cerrone simply has too much. It will got eh distance though.
Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem (-150) vs Brock Lesnar (+120) – Heavyweight Bout, Five Rounds
Though Lesnar is getting most of the mainstream media coverage, because of his popularity, he is actually the underdog in this fight. Lesnar is 5-2 in his career, and 4-2 in UFC. Lesnar is 34 years old, but diverticulitis has taken away two years from his career. In his last two fights, Lesnar panicked when he got hit. That isn’t good since he is facing one of the best strikers in MMA in Overeem.
Alistair Overeem is 35-11 in his career and is making his UFC debut. He has won 10 fights in a row. However, besides a June bout against Fabricio Werdum, he hasn’t faced any real competition during the streak. Overeem looked tentative at times against Werdum but escaped with a lackluster decision. Overeem is a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. A misunderstanding with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, led to Overeem going back to the Netherlands before giving a urine sample for drug testing. Overeem didn’t know it was mandatory. He submitted a sample later, but it didn’t meet the requirements. He submitted another sample on December 20 in the UK and it was clean, so the fight will go on as scheduled. However, the distraction can’t help his training regimen.
If Lesnar is healthy, he can be dominant, especially if he can get Overeem on the ground. Lesnar, a former WWE world champion, is freakishly athletic for a such a large man. He is also deceptively quick. Overeem actually has the reach advantage as he is 6’5″ and Lesnar is 6’3″. If they get in close Overeem can do damage with his strikes. Besides the Werdum bout, Overeem hasn’t seen the second round of a fight since 2007. He has 33 stopapges in his 35 career wins. Lesnar will keep in pressure up to attempt to tire his opponent, and stamina could be an issue for both fighters if the fight goes 4 or five rounds. I don’t think it will though, as Overeem will wait for Lesnar to make a mistake. Overeem will win by a stoppage in the second or third.
It should be a great card in Vegas Friday night as we say prepare to say good bye to 2011 and hello to 2012.