Alistair Overeem kept his name in the hat for another shot at the UFC heavyweight title with a majority decision win over Fabricio Werdum at UFC 213 tonight (July 8), but did little to suggest he might one day be capable of avenging his loss to Stipe Miocic.

In a rubber match that failed to ever really get going, Overeem mostly befuddled Werdum, a man he has faced twice before, with a series of looks and poses and feints and occasionally combined this posturing with some sharp single counter punches or leg kicks. This approach was enough to take round one, because Werdum failed to match his movement and action, no matter how inconsequential, and seemed content to wait and bide his time. It also, according to two of the judges at least, saw him get the nod in round two, a round some believe Werdum shaded.

Certainly, Werdum, 39, was getting more active in round two. Overeem, 37, as is his tendency, started to tire, struggled carrying his bulk around the Octagon, and was becoming more and more flat-footed and hittable as the contest went on. This rang true in round three when Werdum finally achieved a breakthrough in the form of a flurry of punches, which momentarily stunned Overeem, and a knee to the face, which scrambled the Dutchman’s senses and seemingly had him ready for the taking.

Curiously, though, Werdum chose not to follow up with punches, elbows, knees or kicks. Instead, he decided to use Overeem’s unsteady base to secure a takedown and then proceeded to work him over from inside his opponent’s guard.

An exclamation mark of sorts, for it showed Werdum on top and in the ascendency, it nevertheless seemed an odd choice when the Brazilian was lighting Overeem up with strikes on their feet and was perhaps only a few more away from forcing a stoppage. As it happened, Werdum found himself contained in Overeem’s guard and was unable to successfully pass or ground-and-pound Overeem to finish. In fact, so feeble were Werdum’s attempts to do either, there’s every chance he felt he already had the fight in the bag and was, by initiating a takedown, simply adding the cherry on top of the cake.

He was wrong. Despite a strong third and final round – one that arguably deserved some 10-8 recognition on the scorecards – Werdum could only watch in horror as Overeem, 43-15 (1 NC), received the win from the judges after fifteen minutes.

More than just a case of too little, too late, Werdum, 21-7-1, will be kicking himself for not capitalising on the moment when Overeem appeared spent in round three; for assuming he was en route to victory; for assuming the judges were on his side. In MMA, assumption is a cardinal sin.


Full UFC 213 results:

Robert Whittaker defeated Yoel Romero via unanimous decision (48-47 x3)

Alistair Overeem defeated Fabricio Werdum via majority decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Curtis Blaydes defeated Daniel Omielanczuk via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Anthony Pettis defeated Jim Miller via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Rob Font defeated Douglas Silva de Andrade via second round submission (4:36)

Oleksiy Oliynyk defeated Travis Browne via second round submission (3:44)

Chad Laprise defeated Brian Camozzi via third-round TKO (1:27)

Thiago Santos defeated Gerald Meerschaert via second-round TKO (2:04)

Belal Muhammad defeated Jordan Mein via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Cody Stamann defeated Terrion Ware via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Trevin Giles defeated James Bochnovic via second-round TKO (2:54)