Overeem (36-12-1) was a heavy favorite when he stepped into the fight. "Bigfoot" Silva (18-4), a previous upset winner over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Travis Browne, was comfortably ensconced in his angry-underdog role.
For a while, everything unfolded the way it was supposed to. Overeem did not appear to be quite the irresistible force he had been in some of his previous fights, but he was still controlling the action. He landed knees, pulled off a take down, worked some solid side control and ground-and-pound and absorbed no substantial damage from "Bigfoot."
But a funny thing happened on the way to Cain Velasquez. Overeem started taunting a little. Then he started taunting a lot. Nothing silly or exaggerated, but a lot of smirking. A lot of scoffing (and seriously, when was the last time you saw a fighter actually scoff in a cage). A lot of dropping of the hands. A lot of, I don't know, loafing. And it all followed on the heels of a week of disrespect shoveled Silva's way by The Reem.
The script began to deviate from the center line in the waning moments of the second round. Referee Herb Dean stood Silva up as Overeem stood over him throwing half-hearted leg kicks. Bigfoot capitalized, landing a big knee from the clinch just before the horn. At the start of the third, Silva kept the momentum swing going, finding a home for a few short rights. As they slammed in, Overeem appeared almost stunned. Silva whooshed forward. A head kick led to a right hand. The din of the crowd began to rise. The right led to an uppercut, then another uppercut. Each blow was more vicious, more flush than the last. Twenty seconds into the barrage, it was over. Dean stepped between them, called the KO and ushered Bigfoot away. And the crowd goes wild.
But Bigfoot still needed some icing on that cake. He came back. Silva tromped back over to Overeem's crumpled body. He stood over that mohawked mountain of muscle and mahogany. And in his booming, unrefined baritone, the giant shouted some stuff down at him. Some angry stuff. Some stuff that, in its volume if not actual syllables, wondered where the smirk went. Did The Reem respect him now?
It was a moment of catharsis as much as elation. Silva had to let it out. Then he let Dean carry him back away, and contented himself by climbing to the top of the cage to soak in the deafening roar of the hard-to-please Las Vegas faithful, who were never louder at any point that night.
By the time Silva's lovable, broken-English post-fight interview with Joe Rogan was complete, he had a new fan. And when I say that he had a new fan, I mean myself. I'm now a fan of yours, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.
I have no doubt that Silva delivered both the Knockout of the Night (he did win, for the record) and the story of the night. Sometimes, the headline writes itself: Giant Beats Down Bully. Sometimes, in glorious settings like MMA, life really is as simple as a matter of good over bag.
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