Saturday night's fight between heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir was considered the equivalent of an old school pro wrestling "loser leaves town" match.
So there was something strangely appropriate about Overeem calling out a pro wrestler after he easily dispensed of Mir in an across-the-board 30-27 decision at UFC 169 in Newark's Prudential Center.
Overeem had words for former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the man he sent running back to the WWE in 2011.
"I heard there's word that Brock Lesnar is about to come back to the UFC. Well, I'll be here waiting for him," said Overeem (37-13, 1 no-contest).
Of course, that's not something that's going to happen in the near future. While Lesnar, whose last fight was his first-round stoppage loss to Overeem at UFC 141, did recently chat with UFC president Dana White, Lesnar is also making plenty of money over in the land of make-believe and doesn't need to come back and take a real beating to earn a paycheck.
"Brock Lesnar is not coming back," White said at the UFC 169 post-fight news conference. "Brock Lesnar is not going to fight [Overeem]. Does he want to come back? It's something we've talked about, him wanting to come back. He wasn't 100 percent while he was here and he feels like he sold himself a little short. But there's no deal with Brock Lesnar and he's not coming back any time soon."
With that settled, back to Saturday night's events inside the Octagon. There was little doubt when this fight was made that it was set up for someone to salvage his UFC career. Overeem entered the fight on the wrong end of a pair of knockout losses. Mir lost three consecutive fights, two via knockout. They also come with hefty price tags: Overeem made disclosed pay just north of $285,000 for each of his two losses; Mir made $200,000 for each of his three losses. Either fighter's one-day payoff is enough to cover a couple fight cards worth of $8,000 to show/$8,000 to win-level fighters.
White, for his part, didn't seem terribly enamored with Overeem's performance in the decision victory. The UFC boss has seemed cranky since losing Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva in successive months, and Overeem wasn't spared his wrath. White told FOX Sports 1 late Saturday night, "He comes out with a crappy performance, then he calls out a guy who doesn't fight anymore. Not a great night for Alistair."
Fair point on Lesnar, but as to the rest, one has to wonder what fight White was watching. In his 2013 losses to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne, Overeem dominated. Right up until the point he ran out of gas, that is, whereupon he was on the wrong end of two of the year's most memorable finishes.
On Saturday, Overeem rocked Mir from the get-go, scoring gigantic knees in the clinch. He was willing to go to the ground with the most dangerous jiu-jitsu heavyweight the UFC has ever seen. Not only was Overeem not finished by Mir on the floor – a second-round choke was Mir's only real highlight of the fight – but when the duo was stood up after a third-round ground sequence, Mir's face resembled ground hamburger.
Overeem did everything except actually finish Mir, but that wasn't enough to please the boss on a night which featured a UFC single-event record of 10 fights which went to a decision. The fighter, though, understood what he accomplished.
"Frank is one of those fighters, he stays dangerous until the end," Overeem said. "And you know, I was searching for a submission or something, and that is his strength. He goes down, you think you've got him, and suddenly, you're in a leglock. So, that's why I also kept it a little bit under control."
As for Mir, the writing is on the wall. White might be sentimental toward the Las Vegas native, who is the longest-tenured fighter on the roster, having been with the UFC since 2001. But in the course of his four-fight losing streak, he's been viciously finished by Junior dos Santos and Josh Barnett, and been blown out of 30-27 decisions against Daniel Cormier and Mir.
"We're going to have to sit down and talk," White conceded. "It's one of those tough things."
As for Overeem, well, that Brock Lesnar rematch obviously isn't happening any time soon. A bout with former champion dos Santos seems to make sense at this point in both fighters' careers. After all, Overeem was slated to challenge then-champion dos Santos at UFC 146, before Overeem's failed out-of-competition PED test, which derailed Overeem's career for so long.
For now, Overeem isn't thinking about such things just yet.
"Every fight in the UFC is interesting for me," Overeem said. "It's holiday time, then we'll sit together as a team, and we'll figure it out."
White, though, finally heard something he liked about Overeem.
"That's a good fight," White said about Overeem-JDS.
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter @DaveDoyleMMA
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- Brock Lesnar
- Alistair Overeem
- Frank Mir