Most Satisfying Beatdown of 2013: Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva vs. Alistair Overeem

UFC-156 There were some vicious beatings dished out in MMA cages and rings this past year, but none of them were as satisfying to watch as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s brutal beatdown of Alistair Overeem in the third round of his fight at UFC 156. Prior to the fight, no one gave Silva a chance to win, with everyone assuming that Overeem and his hulk-like physique would stroll into the Octagon and take out the Brazilian’s big head in devastating fashion. In fact, the fighter formerly nicknamed “The Demolition Man” was so confident leading up to the fight that he said he barely watched any tape on “Bigfoot,” but that he still expected to knock him out easily. As well, Overeem was also extremely rude to reporters in the lead-up to the fight, refusing to answer any questions on his PED bust the year before, basically exemplifying all the stereotypes of a big, cocky jock. He made himself very hard to like, but by looking at his muscles and considering his power and Silva’s questionable chin, everyone assumed he’d get an easy win at UFC 156. Everyone, including Overeem himself. Big mistake. Although Overeem was able to control “Bigfoot” for the first two rounds with takedowns and fence clinching, it became obvious heading into the third round that “The Reem’s” gas tank was depleted and that he would have to grind out the last five minutes to get the victory. Sure, he wasn’t likely to get the highlight-reel KO that everyone expected of him leading into the fight, but a win over “Bigfoot” via any method was going to guarantee him a title shot at UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Unfortunately for Overeem, all his cockiness and lack of respect for “Bigfoot” cost him dearly. As soon as the third round began, Silva – sensing that Overeem had run out of gas – stormed across the Octagon, hit Overeem’s chin with some brutally-hard punches to rock him. He then swarmed on Overeem with his giant fists some more to finish the job and pick up the shocking upset knockout victory. Not only was the KO sweet vindication to “Bigfoot,” who had been given little respect by Overeem, the fans, and even the media heading into the fight, but it also earned him a $50,000 bonus check for “Knockout of the Night” as well as a title shot against Velasquez at UFC 160. But perhaps what I remember most about this knockout isn’t even the brutal barrage of strikes that downed Overeem, but what happened moments afterwards, with referee Herb Dean having to restrain an angry Silva from going after a stunned Overeem on the mat. The image of the smaller Dean holding back Silva from inflicting even more damage on an unconscious Overeem is, to me at least, maybe even the MMA image of the year. But even if you don’t think it was image of the year, you have to admit this was the most satisfying beatdown of the year. Not only did “Bigfoot” gain a hell of a lot of respect from everyone in the MMA world after taking out Overeem, but Overeem learned a lesson of respect himself, admitting afterwards that he had been way too cocky heading into the fight and that losing to Silva was a shock to the system that he needed, because his head became way too big after he had taken out a slew of opponents in Japan and in Strikeforce while at the top of his “horse meat diet.” Although Overeem came back after the loss to Silva at UFC Fight Night 26 and lost via KO to Travis Browne, he showed his opponent in that fight more respect than he ever had before, and I believe that the loss to “Bigfoot” and the positive way that Overeem dealt with the loss actually earned him many of his fans back, as many of them had left after he was flagged for elevated testosterone levels in a random drug test in early 2012. Even me, personally, I kind of felt like Overeem was just a jerk, but after his two losses, he seems to be very humbled and that can only help him as he prepares for a fight with Frank Mir at UFC 169, a fight that UFC president Dana White has already confirmed is a “loser leaves the Octagon” match. As for “Bigfoot,” he parlayed the win over Overeem into a title shot against Velasquez at UFC 160, and although he lost that fight in devastating fashion himself, he then followed it up with an amazing “Fight of the Year” candidate against Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33. Unfortunately, “Bigfoot” himself tested positive for elevated testosterone levels after the Hunt fight, and that taints that particular fight in a negative light for sure, but he was clean at UFC 156 (as far as Nevada’s drug tests go, anyways) and that positive test after UFC Fight Night 33 doesn’t take anything away from his win over “The Reem.” Back in February, at the height of Overeem’s seeming invincibility, nothing was sweeter than watching him get knocked out cold by the underdog “Bigfoot,” especially in the fashion it happened, with “The Reem” controlling the first two rounds with wrestling only to gas out and get smashed in the third. An awesome KO — one of my favorites of the year in general – and, for my money at least, definitely the most satisfying beatdown of the year in mixed martial arts.

Written by Adam Martin.

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