It surprised many when the UFC moved Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes to the prelim main event of this Saturday’s UFC 225 card on FOX Sports 1.
But regardless of where the fight takes place, what’s in it for Overeem?
The 38-year-old is coming off a first round knockout loss to Francis Ngannou that snapped a two-fight win streak. He was unable to solve the champion in the heavyweight division, Stipe Miocic, in 2016 when the two faced off.
Is this a no-win situation for “The Reem” in the “Windy City” of Chicago?
To an extent, yes it is.
Blaydes is a 27-year-old rising contender in the UFC who scored the biggest win of his career in February when he defeated Mark Hunt. Overall, he is 9-1 with a no-contest, falling only to Ngannou when the doctor stepped in after the second round.
He is a big, strong heavyweight with a background in wrestling. And, Blaydes will be fighting in his hometown of Chicago in his biggest fight to date.
What’s there for Overeem to accomplish with a win? Outside of keeping his standing in the division, not much.
If the former Strikeforce champion destroys Blaydes, many will say “that’s what he should do.” If he earns a decision, most will likely view it as a loss in terms of putting him back in a No. 1 contender match anytime soon.
And if Blaydes earns the victory, Overeem’s days as a challenger to the UFC heavyweight title will be gone like all those heroes in “Avengers: Infinity War.”
For this weekend to be a success for Overeem, he needs to come out, take care of Blaydes in convincing fashion and make a bold post-fight speech in regards to who he wants next.
Anything short of that, and Overeem will be an oversight on a night packed with championship matches and big-name stars.