By Zach Arnold | December 27, 2011
So, our friends at FightHub.tv posted this video with one fighter saying that Alistair Overeem will get exposed like Bob Sapp did. I remember the moment Sapp got ‘exposed’ and that was in March of 2003 at Saitama Super Arena. Sapp had been pushed to the moon by Kazuyoshi Ishii as his big pet project — so much so that Ishii himself was a special guest referee for one of Sapp’s fights. Mirko Cro Cop was the man who shattered the image of Bob Sapp and shattered his eye socket, too. People made fun of Sapp for turtling up and screaming but I don’t blame him. Mirko 2003 was something fierce and soon we would end up seeing Mirko vs. Fedor, a program that will always age well because of just how great that fight was promoted.
Will Alistair fold up like Bob Sapp did? Who knows. Fabricio Werdum was able to tag him pretty well and Brock Lesnar’s got a powerful punch. He’s also got terrible striking defense and Alistair is great at what he does. We know what the stakes are for this fight — winner gets Junior dos Santos. But what about the loser? If Alistair loses, he’ll still be fighting because that’s what does and it is in his DNA. If Brock wins, he has the table set up to make a ton of cash in easy fashion. Cash is king and so is not having to slave labor to make it. He loves to train all the times anyways, so getting paid millions of dollars to keep training is great if you can get it.
Overeem is a -140 favorite heading into the fight. For a prop bet, you can get +400 odds if you think Alistair will win by submission.
But what if Brock loses? Sure, there are some sporadic fights left for him (against Nogueira, against Mir… again). However, will he have any desire left to hit the comeback trail? Brock often likes to move onto different challenges when he thinks he’s plateaued or has just gotten plain old bored. He did that with WWE, he did that when he tried out for the Minnesota Vikings, and he pulled that routine as well when he was given everything on a silver platter by Antonio Inoki and New Japan. He won the IWGP belt in a 3-way match over Masa Chono & Kazuyuki Fujita in maybe the worst-ever attended Tokyo Dome show (a feat that may be eclipsed by the upcoming 1/4 Tokyo Dome show headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki), was given what he wanted in terms of last-second travel itinery, booked in the same formulaic title matches, and then… he just quit. He didn’t even bother losing the title belt.
So, yeah, Brock has a proclivity of shutting down when he decides enough is a enough, no matter how logical or illogical it is. Given that he is currently UFC’s #1 PPV drawing attraction by a country mile, losing him would be a big blow for Zuffa. The company still relies on PPV sales so heavily to finance everything else. With Georges St. Pierre on the sidelines, Lesnar’s value over everyone else is exponentially important. Jon Jones is starting to develop a following but it’s only maybe half of what a typical Lesnar fight can bring in at the box office.
The other big NYE fight is Fedor vs. Satoshi Ishii. The Inoki card at Saitama Super Arena has tons of fights on it (both wrestling and MMA), but for all intents & purposes this is a one-fight card in terms of how it has been promoted. Most of the value goes to Fedor, believe it or not, as Ishii has really been kept away from the press sans a couple of interviews with outfits like Nikkan Sports newspaper. Shinya Aoki has been doing the media rounds with Antonio Inoki, which has been quite the visual to see. In his Nikkan Sports interview, Ishii said that he views himself in ‘desperation mode’ right now and that he’s come to accept him as a Mixed Martial Artist… although very few people are sure of what he really wants in life mainly because he has no clue himself. He’s been training at Reign (Mark Munoz’s gym) with Ed Buckley, the Muay Thai coach of Team Quest. Everyone who has ever been in the gym with Ishii (like our friend the Hawaiian princess) will tell you that he’s always in beast mode and yet when it comes to fight time he’s OK but not overly dominating.
If Ishii beats Fedor on NYE, I’m not sure where it leads him as far as his career. His career is still managed by Inoki forces and yet he has wanted to fight in UFC. I’m still doubtful we will ever see him with Zuffa given how much Inoki wants to maintain his power. I suppose Ishii will continue getting booked on DREAM cards or maybe even a spot on a One FC card in Singapore. If Ishii loses to Fedor, few people will be shocked and the experiment will probably combust if the fan reaction gets pretty ugly fast. At that point, Ishii’s only hope to salvage his career would be to make a U-turn into pro-wrestling.
If Fedor loses to Ishii, is this the end for him? The fight scene in Japan is not getting any healthier. Sooner or later, M-1 is going to run out of money marks to pay them to book Fedor. Where do you go then? Would Fedor even care about fighting if he lost to Ishii? If he beats Ishii, at least he can plausibly continue to fight on and just hang around for a few more paychecks. But if he loses, it’s entirely possible that he could announce his retirement after the fight.
So, which fighter in your estimation is more likely to retire after a loss this weekend, Fedor or Brock?