by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Alistair Overeem (24-8) vs Ricardo Arona (12-4)

At the 2005 Pride middleweight tournament, Alistair Overeem compiled victories over Vitor Belfort and Igor Vovchanchyn in an impressive run to the semi-finals. Overeem came up short when he was stopped by Chute Boxe fighter Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at Final Conflict. The “Demolition Man” rebounded from his loss with a victory over heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov at Pride 31. The win was the biggest of his career and earned him a spot in this year’s Absolute tournament. Since that fight, Overeem would go 2-2. The Dutch fighter is coming off of a loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute last July.

Ricardo Arona, who is currently the #4 light heavyweight fighter in the MMAWeekly Rankings, is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a member of Brazilian Top Team. Like Overeem, Arona had much success during the 2005 middleweight tournament. Ricardo made it to the finals, defeating Dean Lister, Kazushi Sakuraba, and defending Grand Prix champion Wanderlei Silva along the way. After upsetting the champion, Arona would be stopped by Mauricio “Shogun” Rua later that the evening. At Pride Shockwave 2005, the Brazilian fighter lost a very close decision in a rematch with Wanderlei Silva. Arona is looking to rebound from two straight losses.

Overeem, who is the #9 light heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, came into his last fight with a neck injury, and his corner was forced to throw in the towel after a flurry of punches by Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Unhappy at first by their decision, Alistair soon realized it was in his best interest. Overeem now faces another member of Brazilian Top Team and a much more difficult opponent.

As I watch more of Alistair’s fights, his striking seems less and less impressive. On the other hand, Arona isn’t known as a remarkable striker. However, what he lacks in technique may be compensated for with his underrated punching power. Overeem’s chin has proven to be suspect and a clean punch could change the dynamics of the fight very quickly.

Overeem has a decent sprawl but has never been tested by a takedown artist like Arona. It’ll just be a matter of time before Ricardo imposes his physical strength and brings the fight to the ground. The “Demolition Man” has had success with his guillotine choke but the likelihood of Alistair securing one on Arona is slim to none. Although Ricardo’s fights aren’t always entertaining, there’s no denying the Abu Dhabi submission wrestling champion’s skills on the ground.

It’ll be interesting to see if Overeem has fully recovered from his neck injury and how it may have affected his preparations for this fight. Obviously, Alistair needs to keep this fight standing and utilize his reach and knees.

Look for Arona to take the fight to the ground and control his opponent. The Brazilian Top Team fighter will utilize his wrestling skills to control Overeem on the mat and attack inside the Dutch fighter’s guard.

Typically, an Arona fight would end via a decision. However, I think Ricardo will be more aggressive in this match than usual. Midway through the final round, an exhausted Overeem will feel overwhelmed by Arona’s strength and succumb to a kimura.

Prediction: Ricardo Arona submits Alistair Overeem RD3