UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem – Preview & Event Coverage
By Justin Bolduc
The UFC closes out 2011 with a major heavyweight match-up between former UFC champion Brock Lesnar and former Dream, Strikeforce, and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem. The bout features another time shift for the promotions pay-per-view schedule, returning to the 10 pm EST time slot after a recent decline in pay-per-view revenue. Additionally the event will feature preliminary bouts on Spike TV for the last time before the last time.
While the main event is expected to determine the next heavyweight contender, the event is strong all around. In the co-main event The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner Nate Diaz faces former WEC contender Donald Cerrone in PDG’s Match-Up of the Night. Additionally, welterweights Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks look to inch up the welterweight ladder while veteran Vladimir Matyushenko faces fan favorite prospect Alexander Gustaffson. The opening bout of the main card will feature TUF finalist Nam Phan against undefeated Jim Hettes.
On the Spike TV preliminary broadcast TUF winner Ross Pearson faces Junior Assuncao in the Brit’s featherweight debut. Also on the television broadcast is a lightweight showdown between Anthony Njokuani and Danny Castillo.
The remainder of the preliminary card will air live and free on the UFC’s official Facebook page. Dong Hyun Kim tries to bounce back from the first loss of his career against Canada’s Sean Pierson, while Efrain Escudero makes his UFC return against Jacob Volkmann. Fan favorite Matt Riddle meets Luis Ramos, while Manny Gamburyan and Diego Nunes round things out in an exciting featherweight scrap.
Brock Lesnar (5-2) vs. Alistair Overeem (35-11, 1 NC)
Main Event – Number One Contender
Brock Lesnar‘s (4-2 UFC) professional mixed martial arts career is short, but already rich. After winning his pro debut by first round TKO over Min Soo Kim at the K-1 HERO’S Dynamite USA event, the former WWE champion joined the UFC ranks. Lesnar lost his promotional debut to former UFC champion Frank Mir by kneebar, but rallied with a dominant decision over Heath Herring. Lesnar then claimed the UFC title by knocking out Randy Couture before successfully defending it by TKO against Mir and submission against Shane Carwin. Most recently Lesnar lost the UFC title to Cain Velasquez by first round TKO.
Alistair Overeem (UFC debut) first made a name for himself in PRIDE as a light heavyweight, but in recent years has made a shift to heavyweight where he has become one of the world’s most captivating fighters. Overeem enters Friday’s bout having won ten of his last 11 bouts, and a no contest in the other. During that span he also won K-1’s World Grand Prix and earned MMA victories over Fabricio Werdum, Brett Rogers, Paul Buentello, Gary Goodridge, Todd Duffee, and Kazuyuki Fujita.
UFC 141 Main Event Breakdown:
The key for Lesnar in this bout is to score the takedown early and keep Overeem on his back. Lesnar’s biggest strength going into this bout is his conditioning, whereas Overeem has been known to tire. Scoring takedowns and grinding away with ground and pound will keep Lesnar in a more safe location – away from Overeem’s punches, kicks, and knees, and will tire-out the Dutch fighter.
On the other side, Lesnar has shown an inability to take hits which is exactly what Overeem is aiming to do. With strong punches, brutal kicks, and devastating knees Overeem needs to get off early and often. Despite a strong submission game, the key to victory for Overeem is to keep the fight standing and keep the pressure on Lesnar.
Nate Diaz (14-7) vs. Donald Cerrone (17-3, 1 NC)
PDG’s Match-Up of the Night
Nate Diaz (9-5 UFC) enters Friday’s bout coming off a submission win over former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi in his return to lightweight. Prior to the win Diaz suffered a two-fight skid against Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, prompting the return to lightweight. Diaz holds ten wins by submission and three by TKO, including stoppages over Melvin Guillard, Kurt Pellegrino, Rory Markham, Junior Assuncao, Joe Hurley, and Alvin Robinson. Donald Cerrone (4-0 UFC) enters his bout with Diaz on a six-fight win streak, including four in the UFC. After avenging a previous loss to former WEC champion Jamie Varner, Cerrone won his last WEC appearance over Chris Horodecki by submission. Since joining the UFC, Cerrone has earned impressive wins over Paul Kelly, Vagner Rocha, Charles Oliveira, and most recently Dennis Siver.
Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 1 NC) vs. Johny Hendricks (11-1)
Jon Fitch (13-1-1 UFC) has been inching and fighting tooth and nail to get back to a title shot. Despite one of the most impressive records in the UFC, Fitch’s fighting style has worked against him. Entering his bout with Hendricks coming off a draw against former UFC champion B.J. Penn, Fitch was previously on a five-fight win streak over Thiago Alves, Ben Saunders, Mike Pierce, Paulo Thiago, and Akihiro Gono. Fitch owns additional career victories over Brock Larson, Luigi Fioravanti, Shonie Carter, Diego Sanchez, and Jeff Joslin. Johny Hendricks (6-1 UFC) enters the biggest fight of his career on a two-fight win streak over T.J. Waldburger and Mike Pierce. Prior to losing to Rick Story, Hendricks won his first four UFC appearances over Amir Sadollah, Ricardo Funch, T.J. Grant, and Charlie Brenneman.
Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (12-1)
Vladimir Matyushenko (8-3 UFC) steps in after a pair of first round stoppages over Alexandre Ferreira and Jason Brilz. “The Janitor” has competed professionally since 1997 and is 4-1 since rejoining the UFC in 2009, losing only to current UFC champion Jon Jones. Matyushenko owns notable career victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Jason Lambert, Tim Boestch, Pedro Rizzo, Yuki Kondo, Travis Wiuff, and Anthony Ruiz. Alexander Gustafsson (4-1 UFC) has quickly risen as a fan favorite and highly-touted prospect. Entering Friday’s bout on a three-fight win streak, the only loss on Gustafsson’s resume is to undefeated prospect Phil Davis. In his UFC debut Gustafsson Jared Hamman. On his current run, Gustafsson earned a pair of rear naked choke submissions over Cyrille Diabate and James Te Huna before most recently stopping Matt Hamill with punches and elbows.
Nam Phan (17-9) vs. Jim Hettes (9-0)
Nam Phan (1-2 UFC) earned notability competing internationally and against some of the world’s best, but didn’t truly make his mark until appearing on The Ultimate Fighter. After losing a controversial decision against Leonard Garcia, Phan was then out-pointed by former WEC champion Mike Brown. On the verge of the UFC cut-list Phan won his most recent bout against Garcia, avenging the earlier defeat. Phan holds career victories over Hideki Kadowaki and Saad Awad. Jim Hettes (1-0 UFC) is undefeated in nine professional appearances, including his UFC debut where he submitted TUF alum Alex Caceres with a rear naked choke. All nine of Hettes’ victories have come by submission, including four by rear naked choke. He has finished six opponents in the first round and the other three in the second round.
UFC 141 Fight Card
Main Card (PPV):
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem (Main Event)
Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone (PDG’s Match-Up of the Night)
Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Nam Phan vs. Jim Hettes
Preliminary Card (Spike TV):
Ross Pearson vs. Junior Assuncao
Anthony Njokuani vs. Danny Castillo
Preliminary Card (UFC Facebook):
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Sean Pierson
Jacob Volkmann vs. Efrain Escudero
Matt Riddle vs. Luis Ramos
Manny Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes