Alistair Overeem isn’t done yet.
Video Credits: UFC
On Sunday, the one-time UFC heavyweight title challenger sent that message to the rest of the division, leaving the bloodied husk of rising young contender Augusto Sakai sprawled on the octagon floor.
Overeem claimed a fifth-round TKO win via ground and pound against Sakai in the main event of UFC Vegas 9, weathering an early storm to pick the 29-year-old Sakai apart in the late rounds. Sakai out-struck Overeem by almost double through the first three rounds, throwing at volume particularly when he was able to back Overeem up against the cage. Overeem maintained a tight guard and took the shots, and picked his spots to return fire.
The experience of Overeem came to the fore toward the end of the third round as Sakai, who had not been in a five-round UFC fight before, began to tire. Overeem scored an easy takedown in the third, and that was the same avenue he took to close the fight out. A takedown in the fourth gave Overeem almost three minutes in top control and he battered Sakai with a barrage of strikes from above. Sakai was able to see out the round, but immediately ended up in the same position in the fifth round and, after just 26 seconds and two calls from referee Herb Dean to fight back, the fight was over.
Overeem moved to 6-3 since he challenged for the title in 2016, with his losses coming against Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik – who are ranked 1, 2, and 3 in the division respectively. At 40-year-old, Overeem has accepted the fact that the curtain is slowly coming down on his career. However, he remains adamant that he can earn one last shot at the title in what is now a wide-open division and could now be just one win away – likely needing to be against one of the three names above – to get one last shot at the gold.
In the co-main, perennial light heavyweight contender reminded everyone he’s more than a submission artist with a walk-off knockout of Alonzo Menifield. Saint Preux planted Menifield with a counter left hook late in the second round and seemed to know the moment it landed he wouldn’t need to follow it up.
Video Credits: UFC
It was Saint Preux’s first stoppage with his fists since he knocked out Patrick Cummins in April 2015. The win earned Saint Preux one of four performance bonuses handed out on the night alongside Brian Kelleher (vs Ray Rodriguez), André Muniz (v Bartosz Fabiński), and Michel Pereira (vs Zelim Imadaev) who all won their respective bouts via submissions.
Full results for UFC Vegas 9:
Alistair Overeem beat Augusto Sakai via fifth-round TKO
Ovince Saint Preux beat Alonzo Menifield via second-round KO
Michel Pereira beat Zelim Imadaev via third-round submission
André Muniz beat Bartosz Fabiński via first-round submission
Brian Kelleher beat Ray Rodriguez via first-round submission
Viviane Araujo beat Montana De La Rosa via unanimous decision
Hunter Azure beat Cole Smith via unanimous decision
Thiago Moisés v Jalin Turner and Marcos Rogério de Lima v Alexander Romanov were canceled after Moisés and de Lima tested positive for Covid-19.