The UFC has started to announce some of the bouts for UFC 160, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. The card is headlined by Cain Velasquez‘ defense of his heavyweight title against Antonio Silva. The UFC announced another Heavyweight match that in many ways is more intriguing than the title bout, and that is Junior Dos Santos facing off against Alistair Overeem. Dos Santos is coming off the loss of the Heavyweight title to Velasquez in his last outing, and Overeem is coming off a loss to Silva, who was a big underdog heading into the match. Two top contenders both come off losses and needing redemption.
The key to this match up will be the mental state of Dos Santos. Dos Santos always had a confidence about him that was a positive, but the belt and the trappings of fame turned it into a negative. The stories prior to the Velasquez match were about big entourages and things of that nature, which just is not where Dos Santos comes from. There were articles in the media interviewing Dos Santos where he said things like ‘I can beat Wladimir Klitscho in a boxing match. Really?
What Dos Santos needs is a Rocky-like get back to the beginnings and your roots and find the hunger again.
Overeem has different baggage, as he will have to always face the spectre of PEDs (was he flat against Silva because he didnt juice?) and potential question about his chin, heart and ability to take damage in a fight. He needs a new invigoration for his career a well.
One other factor in both men looking for themselves is that Dos Santos was just beginning to taste being the champion and it is gone now. It can be very motivating to want that all back. Overeem, with his multiple titles in other groups and his K-1 kickboxing titles has also tasted being around the top, and he has been there for the better part of a decade.
Physically, Dos Santos is a bit more compact than the sprawling Overeem. Overeem is a good kickboxer with big punches and KO knees, and he could conceivably take Dos santos out. More likely is that the tough Dos Santos will whether that rush of Overeem’s. Dos Santos will look to and need to make this a gritty fight, where Overeem has traditionally not faired that well. The longer the fight goes, the better for Dos Santos as well, since he weathered a beating for 5 rounds against Velasquez, and also had a gritty fight with Roy Nelson that went the distance. Dos Santos also has a lot of potential to end it early, as he is a lethal puncher in the opening minutes. As long as Dos Santos has his head on straight.
When the lines open, we should see Dos Santos come in as a favorite. Betting Dos Santos is the way to go here, especially if the lines is close.