The UFC will stage its third event in eight days at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. on May 16. The card features Walt Harris’ return to action against heavyweight legend Alistar Overeem as both top-ten athletes look to move up the rankings.
Unfortunately for Overeem, he seems to be on the decline. Despite Jairzinho Rozenstruik getting taken out by Francis Ngannou in 20 seconds at UFC 249 last Saturday, the fight that put Rozenstruik on the map was his last-second KO of Overeem that left him with an ugly lip injury. Before the finish, the contest was, well, far from a contest.
Overeem has lost three of his last five bouts, going 4-4, including the last time he fought for the belt in a loss to Stipe Miocic in 2016. He has gotten KO/TKO wins over Sergei Pavlovich and Aleksi Oleinik but when it comes to title contenders or rising talent like Ngannou or Curtis Blaydes, Overeem keeps coming up short in those bouts as well.
As FanSided reported, Walt Harris “is unbeaten in his last four fights and two straight victories where he’s earned a Performance of the Night bonus. After finishing Sergey Spivak in 50 seconds at UFC Ottawa in May, Harris scored a 12-second knockout of Aleksei Oleinik at UFC San Antonio in July.”
UFC Fight Night Betting Tip: Will Harris Continue Overeem’s Slide?
We’ve got to go with Harris although Overeem leads in nearly every stat category. This fight could come down to Harris’ power and a very unfortunate, very public, x-factor.
Dan Kuhl of Combat Press said, “The x-factor for Harris is the recent loss of his stepdaughter. In October, she went missing, which caused the cancellation of Harris’s November 1 battle with Overeem. Later that month, her body was discovered, and her murderer was caught and charged. Due to these tragic circumstances, Saturday will be the first time Harris has been in the Octagon since last July.”
We have to agree with Kuhl’s assessment that 10 months out of the Octagon to deal with these issues isn’t too much of a concern. Harris knows he’s a finisher. This bout will be a question of if he will remain composed enough to go for a finish when it’s opportune or go for the finish immediately and “blow up” or “gas.”
However, we need to give Harris the benefit of the doubt and call his situation motivation like no other. Aside from that, he has only lost by KO/TKO twice in seven defeats over a roughly nine-year career while “The Demolition Man” has suffered 14 (78% of his losses over a 21-year career.)
It’s not going to be a case of Harris putting him away in a minute like in other fights, but at 39, maybe Overeem’s chin is fading. He still has power in his own right, but we see him finishing his career about where he is now if not in the middle of the pack of the division.
Prediction: Walt Harris def. Alistair Overeem by way of KO/TKO