UFC Fight Night on ESPN 8, belongs to the combat sports icon Alistar Overeem, he's held multiple martial arts titles outside of the UFC. In his professional MMA career, he has an impressive 46 victories and 18 losses, including tonight's victory. Overeem's opponent, Walt Harris, holds an MMA record of 13 wins and 8 losses. Had Walt been victorious, this would have been the biggest victory of his career.
Round One: Overeem lost control of the center of the octagon, fighting with his back to the fence, Alistar was searching for angles to land his offense. He found his opening and launched a spinning back kick that sent Harris backward a few steps. But, Harris recovered and pressed forward. About a minute into the round Walt found his opening to landed a three punch combination (left hook - right hook - left hook) that sat Overeem down to the canvas. Harris was looking to end the fight with a flurry of ground and pound punches, but the veteran Overeem handled the power punches and worked his way back to his feet.
Alistar's face was gashed open, and his lip bloodied as Walt Harris continued to land heavy blows to Alistar's body. As the fight transitioned to the feet, Harris continued to apply pressure. Overeem was impressive how he kept his composure even after being rocked early. The momentum changed in Overeem's favor after Harris threw a front kick aimed at the chin of Overeem but lost his balance, Overeem capitalized and took control of Harris's back. Overeem used firm wrist and body control to limit any offense from Walt. Overeem peppered Harris with punches to the face till the buzzer sounded to end round one.
Round Two: Both fighters started the second round cautiously; the punches came in singles but with accuracy. Walt Harris continued to apply pressure using feint movements to keep Overeem guessing. On the other hand... or foot whichever you prefer. Alistar used the start of the second period to set up a patented head kick. Overeem started leaning in towards Harris, then stepping backward, then Overeem calf kicked Harris. One minute and thirty seconds into the second round, the fight turned in favor of Overeem as he partially landed a kick to Harris's head that had enough power to hear and see the impact it had on Harris. Overeem went back into his Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu bag to control Harris on the ground, landing multiple punches on Harris until the referee decided to end the fight in favor of Alistar Overeem.
Overall, the sportsmanship and camaraderie shown between these two fighters was the greatest takeaway from this event. Walt Harris and his family have gone through a sad and tragic loss, his courage to get back into the world, train and compete in mixed martial arts on this large platform merits our gratitude. Thank you to him, his family, and his loved ones.
Harris came into last night's battle ranked #9, even though he left defeated, the real test I would use to gauge his potential will be after his next fight. Harris left the octagon, telling us, "I'm going to go home and recover, I'm going to heal emotionally and physically, and I promise you I'll be better.
For Overeem, we will be patient to find out what's next for him. UFC President Dana White told reporters that Overeem should get a match-up against someone ranked in the top five of the heavyweight division.