Alistair Overeem is joining several other fighters in gambling on himself this weekend, fighting Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 17 on the final fight of his current UFC deal.
According to a report from Wednesday’s UFC Tonight program on Fox Sports 1, Overeem is looking to test the market after the fight, rather than re-signing with the UFC in advance. His value to both the UFC and other organizations will then hinge on his performance against the former UFC Heavyweight Champion in Orlando.
Overeem’s UFC career started well with a win over Brock Lesnar in Dec. 2011, but a suspension kept him out all of 2012, and he was knocked out in consecutive fights upon his return. Since then, he’s won three of four fights, including his last two straight into this matchup. A win over dos Santos would be the best of his run, and would set him up for a significant payday from either the UFC, or anyone else willing to pay him should the UFC fail to offer him something acceptable during their exclusive negotiating period.
Penick’s Analysis: An Overeem win over dos Santos would be huge for his career. It’s still likely he’d remain with the UFC in that scenario, because he’d be a potentially deserving title challenger, and he’s a name that could be valuable to other organizations as well. If he loses, the UFC probably wouldn’t have too much of an issue cutting ties with him, as he’s already been on the higher end of their payscale since they signed him. With that said, he’s doing what most fighters in this situation should be doing. Some may wind up in worse negotiating position if they lose, and could potentially wind up being cut and fighting for less outside of the UFC. However, if they’re a top end competitor, and could be a contender even with a loss, they’re valuable to an organization like Bellator or WSOF or even others worldwide. Overeem’s absolutely in that camp, and a win here will help him maximize his earnings.
[Alistair Overeem art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]