Alistair Overeem can get back on track with a win over Travis Browne at UFC Fight Night 26, but he'll need more than that to earn a crack at the UFC heavyweight champion.
Considering Overeem's extensive MMA career and international fame, it's easy to see why the UFC would love nothing more to insert him into the title picture right away. Dana White and Co. put him into a high-profile bout with former champion Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut, and the card turned out to be the No. 3 pay-per-view of the year per MMAPayout.com Blue Book.
Not only did it launch "The Reem" into the public conscious, it also showed off his skills in the Octagon as he easily dispatched of Lesnar in devastating fashion.
From a sheer marketing standpoint, Overeem is a precious commodity as a potential star.
At a sculpted 6'4" and 255 pounds, Overeem looks much closer to a comic book character than a mere mortal. Throw in his background as a K-1 kickboxer and penchant for finishing fights (15 (T)KO's and 19 submissions), and he's easily one of the most physically imposing fighters in the sport.
The problem with throwing him in a title fight if he defeats Travis Browne on Saturday night in Boston is the fact that he really hasn't proven anything in the Octagon against the current top fighters in the division.
While his knockout victory over Lesnar was praised as a sure sign that he was ready to take over the heavyweight landscape, we'll never know how much Lesnar had in the tank. After getting demolished by current champion Cain Velasquez and losing to Overeem, he headed off to the lucrative and safe pastures of the WWE.
That leaves his only other fight—against a current UFC employee—against Antonio Silva. That outing couldn't have gone any worse for the former Strikeforce champion.
Coming off a nine-month suspension for having elevated levels of testosterone, Overeem was placed in a title eliminator against fellow Strikeforce veteran Silva. Many expected it to be a mere formality before Overeem took on champion Cain Velasquez.
Instead, it was Silva who embarrassed Overeem and claimed the title shot with a third-round knockout victory.
As if the blow to Overeem's title hopes wasn't bad enough, Velasquez demolished "Bigfoot," making it clear that the challenger was nowhere near his level.
Now Overeem is tasked with resurrecting his hopes for a UFC championship, and that starts with Travis Browne. While Browne is a tough out with a record of 14-1-1 and more than enough ability to stun Overeem, it's simply not a big enough fight to make fans forget about the Silva debacle.
After Browne's impressive knockout victory over Gabriel Gonzaga in his last bout, he's ranked as the No. 8 heavyweight fighter in the organization. Overeem is No. 5. If he wants to prove he's ready to take on the elite fighters of the division, a win over a top-five opponent is the way to do it.
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